|After an allergic reaction.|
Monday evening didn't get off to a great start. I had returned from the conference, but the house hadn't recovered from my absence. My husband's car was in the shop, so he took mine to work and I had walked the kiddo home from school, only to get caught in the rain halfway back.
After making it home I tossed him into a warm bath and gave him a cozy set of sweats that he could wear to bed later. Then we ploughed through his homework and I made dinner. It was a stir fry with rice, turkey sausage, bok choy, carrots, green onions and a handful of snow peas. Afterward he had a frozen fruit bar, his usual glass of soy milk and his meds.
About an hour after he went to bed, my son wandered into the living room complaining that his tummy hurt and that his throat and tongue were itchy. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I let him sit up with me. Although I was tempted to give him Benadryl, I held off, since I've learned it can mask the symptoms of a worsening reaction. (Now I only use it to treat hives from skin contact.) Within half an hour my child's lips started to puff, his voice became slurred and he complained that his throat felt like it was getting tighter.
This was clearly the moment of decision. Still, I hesitated. I didn't want to use the Epi-Pen. If my son needed CPR I wouldn't question the necessity for a second. Why didn't I want to use it? Was it because I didn't want to admit the life-threatening nature of my son's reaction? Was it because I dreaded calling an ambulance to go to the hospital?
At the conference, one of the presenters had described several scenarios in which children had symptoms of anaphylaxis and yet parents, including physicians, had hesitated to give epinephrine. After listening to each case, the room full of allergists and nutritionists, advocates and bloggers, would groan. I imagined this room full of people dedicated to keeping allergic children safe hearing a description of my son's symptoms. Then I got the Epi-Pen.
Using the Epi-Pen was easy. Deciding to use it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I called 911 and described what had happened with a shaking voice. By the time the firefighters arrived at my messy home, we were ready to go and my son was bouncing around the living room, all symptoms gone. They checked his vitals and chatted with him about snakes. (There was a book about Florida reptiles and amphibians sitting on the coffee table along with hundreds of Lego's.)
The ambulance crew arrived and whisked us off. My son had a great time in the back of the ambulance, asking about the functions of all the machines. At the hospital he was checked again and put under observation. My husband met us there and I finally started to relax.
About an hour after we arrived, my son's tongue and throat started to itch again and he was treated orally with Benadryl and prednisone and we waited some more. In talking with the nurse, I discovered that I was not the only one nervous about using the Epi-Pen. She said that many people who came in for an allergic reaction were actually holding it in their hands, but hadn't used it.
The next day we recovered and my detective work began. Almost everything my son had eaten the night before came from packages of food that my son had eaten from previously without problem. The only exception was the new bottle of soy sauce that I had opened while making the stir fry.
I checked the Kikkoman website, then sent the company an email. I received a phone call back from them literally within minutes. After a short conversation I discovered that the Less Sodium Soy Sauce is manufactured on the same line as the Garlic Teriyaki Sauce. (My son developed an allergy to garlic about a year ago.) Other sauces with milk and shellfish are manufactured on different equipment in the same facility. So the soy sauce is my most likely suspect as the probable cause of the reaction.
After the incident with the bread, I'm starting to wonder if I will have to stop using all processed foods. I've been reading tomato sauce labels with dismay, since all the brands at the store have garlic in them, which makes me question whether I can safely use any other tomato products from the same companies. I feel like I'm heading down the rabbit hole and my cooking is going to be even more restricted.
We saw the allergist yesterday, and just like everyone else, he said that I handled the reaction correctly. My son doesn't seem to be the least bit traumatized, and other than the reaction itself and being stuck with the needle, enjoyed the adventure tremendously. I'm still a bit shaky and owe a huge debt of gratitude to the AANMA and to Mylan for sponsoring the summit and giving me the tools I needed exactly when I needed them.
Disclosure: I attended the USAnanphylaxis Summit as a guest of the AANMA. All opinions are my own.