ANAPHYLAXIS: We’re All at Risk

Marcus, Age 2, Hospitalized for Anaphylaxis

There has been a lot of focus on anaphylaxis in the news thanks to Mylan’s NOT recent, but gradual price hikes to a shocking approximate $750 per prescription. While that is horrifying and a reality for many families, I am fortunate enough to work for a wonderful healthcare system which covers my 2 sons’ prescriptions.  Between the 2 of them, we always have on hand 4 prescriptions at any given time. Given Marcus’ history alone, with his over 2 dozen life threatening reactions that have required the use of the epi-pen jr, it’s heartbreaking to know that this start of the school year is a very scary one for some families who cannot provide this life saving medication for their child(ren).

Putting that all aside, I think the residual benefit of this recent news focus on allergies and anaphylaxis is a gentle reminder to us allergy families to remain on alert.

If you have a few minutes, I beg of you to take the time to read this story. I’ve read it many times over the years.  Each time it has brought me to tears.  So many aspects of this story was my son Marcus. I want this story to continue to pop up on my feed in the years to come, because it’s a great reminder to myself and every other allergy family, not to let our guard down.

Emily’s Story: A Life Lost to a Food Allergy and a Parent’s Wish

Parents Magazine – September 2016

There are (3) things I want everyone to take away from this story:

  • Your once mild allergy can quickly become a severe allergy. 
  • Each allergic reaction is an INDEPENDENT event.  It does not predict your future reaction to the same allergen, whether minor or more severe. Let me clarify, you can have a severe reaction one time, a minor the next and then have a severe reaction again.
  • ALWAYS be prepared. Never let your guard down. Carry that Epi-Pen (Jr if relevant) with you every where, even if you think it’s just a quick stop to a place that’s safe, doesn’t have food, etc., There is such a thing as contact allergic reactions and where ever a hand has touched before can now have touched many other places.

I feel this father’s pain 1000 times over. Marcus is lucky enough to have survived many many anaphylactic reactions and I am forever grateful for that and will hopefully never take that for granted, but we do. We get complacent, comfortable. Of late, I’ve found my husband and I, both saying, Marcus is so mature and aware of his allergies (just like Emily was).  We have our safe restaurants and places we frequent.  We (think we) don’t hesitate to remove a SAFE place if it becomes unsafe. He knows when he’s been in contact with an allergen, he’s very aware of what to tell people around him, with him.  At restaurants, he’s often the first to question IMG_0118and ask if a food is OK to eat. All just like Emily. He can recognize when things just don’t feel right.

But he’s 6! Yes SIX years old and my husband and I were letting our guard down. Taking for granted that he hasn’t had a severe reaction requiring hospitalization in almost a year we thought to ourselves. The frightening reality is that it’s been less than a year since THIS and we’re already letting our guard down! If we were truthful, even when he has a minor reaction at a safe place, meaning a few hives that go away with some Benadryl, it takes a few times of this happening before we really say, you’re NOT SAFE anymore.

I’ve been in Emily’s father’s place, picking apart each of Marcus’ many allergic reactions, trying to understand what is going on in his body down to a scientific level. It has always amazed me how different each incident and reaction is. And yet, it’s so easy to let our guard down. Let this story be a reminder of how quick and swift an allergic reaction can be and how it can rear it’s ugly head any time it wants to.