I have a child with severe, life threatening allergies.  He is allergic to Dairy, Nuts, certain vegetables like bean sprouts, soy (what kind of chinese kid is he?) as well as having asthma and environmental allergies.  In his very short life span of 2.5 years, he has been stabbed with the Epi-Pen Jr (6) times and been to the ER almost a dozen times related to his allergies.  We are extremely cautious around him, living in a dairy-free household and short of putting him in a bubble, he is often the child that gets left at home because it is the most controlled situation he can be in.

It’s not just what he eats.  We have walked into a grocery store and his peri-oral area will start to swell, his eyes too, sometimes he gets hives all over his body.  Just from walking into the grocery store.  Sometimes we walk into a grocery store and… nothing.  He is perfectly fine.  We have walked in a park we walk all the time and just one time, he will begin to have an anaphylactic reaction.

In the past three months we have had to use the Epi-Pen Jr 3 times.  Once on vacation with very limited medical access. Each time we have learned very valuable lessons.  Lessons I want to share with you.
[quote]Have a medical plan when traveling abroad.[/quote]

  • Call your insurance to notify them of your travel plans.
  • Find out what your options are, especially if you’re going abroad.
  • Pack a FIRST AID kit with all medications.
  • Have prescriptions written for emergency use ie. Epi-Pen Jr.
  • Carry a 2-pack of Epi-Pen Jr.
[quote]Push it![/quote] One of the major lessons we learned recently was knowing when to push the Epi-Pen Jr.  It’s terrifying.  I’m a nurse, and the first time I had to push it, I was hesitant.  More than hesitant, I didn’t when I really should have.  Unbeknownst to me, my ever together husband was equally scared, if not more.  He also could not pull the trigger when he really should have.  I can’t believe I am saying this, but… we were incredibly lucky both times.  But you should never go by luck.  My husband adequately murmured my thought, how many more chances are we going to get.  When you know your child has a severe allergy, at the first sign of a reaction, PUSH IT!

And before that… [quote]learn to use it.[/quote]  Carry around the practice pen, that comes in every kit, with you.  Teach everyone who spends a significant amount of time with your child how to use one.  I save each and everyone one of the practice pens and plan on passing it on to his daycare (if we ever let him out of our sight again), his teachers at school, etc.,

Reactions include:

  • Wheezing or Trouble Breathing
  • Horse voice and/or coughing
  • itchy hands and roof of mouth
  • warm, reddened skin
  • skin rash or hives
  • swollen eyelids, lips, tongue, hands, feet or genitals
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • fast or irregular heartbeat

What’s in our medical kit?  We got an awesome one, blazing red, with a medical alert symbol, from our favorite spot, Target.  It goes with him everywhere.

  • Bandaids, alcohol wipes, bacitracin
  • Bottle of Benadryl
  • A couple of 5cc (5ml) oral syringes
  • Bottle of prednisolone
  • 2-pack Epi-Pen Jr
  • Juice boxes (my kid loves to spit medication in our face, how about yours?)
[quote]and then call 911.[/quote] That was the biggest lesson of our last close call. I shot the epi-pen jr and put the baby into the car. I needless to say, drove recklessly. I sped, I ran stop signs, I ignored lights. I looked both ways, but barely paused to stop. I sped on the highway with hazards on, zooming in and out of lanes while constantly checking my rear view mirror to see how he was doing. When his mouth swelled again and he whispered mommy, I started crying and begging him to talk to me. When he past out, I completely lost it and drove faster. I again ran lights off the exit to the hospital and weaved around cars, honking on the hospital property until I made it to the ER door. I ran out of the car, unbuckled the baby and ran into ER leaving the car running and doors opened.

I was in no condition to be driving.  Next time I will call 911. They will have all the equipment ready with them and I can sit with him while someone else does the driving.   The biggest thing?  I can actually be of some comfort to my child in what I can imagine, not being able to breath, as the worst feeling in the world.  You will never be able to drive fast enough and you can’t be driving as recklessly as I was while worrying about your child. 

It’s scary when your child is having a reaction as severe as anaphylaxis.  But being prepared is your best defense.  It took a lot of second chances for us to get it right and I hope you will take our lessons learned to heart and BE SAFE.