Use the Epi-Pen and call 911

Posted on August 8th, 2017 by Alison | Posted in Food Allergies | Read 4 Comments - Add Your Own »

Use the Epi-Pen and call 911 — that is the title of my post. That is what you are supposed to do when your child has an anaphylactic reaction caused by a food allergy. This is what I did 1 week ago.

My almost-13-year-old was hungry and she asked me to make her some food. I decided to make a new pasta that has pea protein in it. There are a lot of gluten-free products with pea protein added as it provides texture that gluten-free products lack. My daughter had avoided pea protein in the past because she suspected that it didn’t make her feel good, but it had been years and we both shrugged it off. She is allergic to peanuts and lentils, and chickpeas make her throat itch (bad sign — needs to get tested for that too). These are all legumes and so are peas, though she ate peas as a child, and she eats pinto beans and black beans with no problem.

That particular day, she ate the pasta with pea protein. After she finished her pasta, she went upstairs to her bedroom, and within 5 minutes, she began to wheeze. I asked her if she was okay. She was trying to be okay, but I could tell that she was having trouble breathing. She took a Benadryl. Then a single hive appeared on her chin, and she began clearing her throat. I knew from an egg challenge she did in the doctor’s office 7 years earlier, that once the throat was affected, it was serious. She still felt pressure in her chest, and the throat clearing was getting worse.

I asked her if she wanted the Epi-Pen. She said yes. “Should I do it myself?” she asked. “I can do it,” I replied. I had actually never given her an Epi-Pen before. The only time she had required the shot outside of the doctor’s office was three years ago but my dad did it (you can read about that experience here). So, there we were — I gave her the shot in her thigh, and held it for 10 seconds as the instructions state.

I waited for her to get better. I expected her to get better. We would go to the hospital, as you are supposed to do after you give the Epi-Pen, but I thought that we were being over-reactive. We were just following the rules, being on the safe side. We got in the car for the approximately 12-minute drive to the hospital, and I realized that I was stressed when I discovered that I forgot to grab my phone on the way out the door. Oh well, we wouldn’t need it, I thought.

Part way through the drive, I looked at my unusually-quiet daughter and asked her if she was ok. She had taken on a very pale-green color in her face. She didn’t want to talk. I suddenly remembered stories about kids in anaphylactic shock who had fallen unconscious in the car on the way to the hospital, and died. “Do you want me to pull the car over and call 911?” I asked her. “Yes,” she replied. We called from her phone since I didn’t have mine (thank goodness this time for phone-addicted teenagers!).

A fire engine and ambulance appeared on the side of the road where I had pulled over. They examined her while she sat in the passenger seat. “You did the right thing,” they said, about giving her the Epi-Pen. And then, one of the men said to me, “I’m so glad you called. Please don’t hesitate to call 911 in the future because with food allergies, when it goes south, it goes south quickly.”

They took her in the ambulance, with me following in my car. They told me that they felt she would be fine but that they would monitor her along the way. They did not turn on the sirens. We arrived at the hospital, and she emerged inhaling albuterol for the wheezing. She was admitted, given an IV of Benadryl and prednisone, and released 3.5 hours later, with instructions to take prednisone tablets for 3 days to prevent recurrence of anaphylactic shock. After 72 hours, the doctor told me, there is no chance if it recurring.

My daughter is fine. I am fine (sort of). This was a reminder to all of us that this S*%# is real.

I write this as a public service announcement to anyone dealing with food allergies. Please remember the following:

  1. Carry an epi-pen with you at all times. Your allergic child should carry an epi-pen everywhere he/she goes.
  2. Know the signs of an anaphylactic reaction — people may experience these symptoms:
    Respiratory: difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, or wheezing
    Skin: hives, swelling under the skin, blue skin from poor circulation, or rashes
    Gastrointestinal: nausea or vomiting
    Whole body: fainting, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, dizziness, or flushing
    Also common: fast heart rate, feeling of impending doom, itching, tongue swelling, difficulty swallowing, facial swelling, mental confusion, nasal congestion, or impaired voice
  3. If there is a reaction, especially to a known or suspected allergen, use the epi-pen. In young, healthy people, there is very low risk of problems from the epi-pen, and the needle doesn’t really hurt (according to my daughter).
  4. Call 911.

And life goes on for us. Thankfully.


First time using the Epi-Pen and the Anxiety that has followed

Posted on January 18th, 2015 by Alison | Posted in Babies & Kids, Emotions, Food Allergies, Peanuts/Nuts Allergy | Read 9 Comments - Add Your Own »

epi pen injectionI finally used the Epi-Pen on my daughter after eight years of managing her food allergies. I used it because I had to. I used it because she asked me to.

We were in Mexico, at a place we visit every year. My daughter is extremely responsible about her food allergies, and carries her “kit” (containing two Epi-Pens, Benadryl and asthma inhaler) with her everywhere she goes, even to the pool. I also had an extra Epi-Pen with me on the trip, so we had three in our possession. The story of BJ Hom is always in the back of my mind when we travel to Mexico — it was there that this young man had an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts but the family did not have an Epi-Pen with them (he had only suffered from hives in the past so they didn’t think it could get more serious than that). We are prepared for an accident in case our vigilance about reading labels, asking questions, and avoiding uncertain foods fails.

On that afternoon at the pool, she selected a popsicle out of a popsicle cart. It had ingredients on the label, both in English and in Spanish. It was a coconut popsicle, containing coconut, cream, milk, sugar, and some additives. Nothing she hadn’t eaten before. Within minutes she came to me and told me that she didn’t feel right. As she was telling me, a large hive appeared on the skin in the lower corner of her mouth. I knew this wasn’t good. Her face had lost its color and dull, dark streaks appeared under her eyes. She said her throat felt “bumpy.” We pulled the Benadryl out of her kit and she took one, and then another. Hives popped out on her stomach, and then on her back.

That day, by our good fortune, my father was hanging out at the kid pool with us. He is a retired pediatrician and I was so glad he was right there at that moment. I showed him the hives. He suggested we head back to the room where he had prednisone in his medicine bag. Prednisone is a corticosteroid that can help reduce swelling caused by allergic reactions, but it is not an immediate treatment since it comes in pill form and takes a little while to have an effect. When we arrived at the hotel room, he gave her a dose of prednisone, but as she held on tight to her epi-pen kit, she said to me, “Mom, I want the shot.”

I looked at my dad and he and I both nodded – let’s do it.

Now, I have to admit that for all of these years I have had a fear of giving the Epi-Pen. I know my allergy mom friends have done it, I know it saves lives, my pediatrician has scolded me for not giving it in a couple of close-calls… I have no explanation for my anxiety about putting this shot in my daughter’s leg. (Perhaps I was scarred by the giant epinephrine shot scene in Pulp Fiction? But it did save Uma Thurman’s character’s life, so…)

I asked my dad to give her the shot. I sat on a bed next to my daughter, while he was on the other side of her and stuck the Epi-Pen in her leg. She was looking at me, away from the shot, and said, “That was it?” It felt like barely a pinch to her. Within minutes, the hive on her face disappeared, her color came back and she was breathing easy. She was a little worried about her rapid heart beat, but we assured her that it was the medicine taking effect and that was normal.

Normally when you give an Epi-Pen, you are advised to go to the hospital or call 911. Sometimes one Epi-Pen isn’t enough, or it is given too late to reverse the symptoms. According to the Epi-Pen website “Get emergency medical help right away. You may need further medical attention. You may need a second EpiPen Auto-Injector should symptoms persist or recur. More than two sequential doses of epinephrine for a single episode should only be administered by a healthcare provider.”

Because we were in Mexico, and we had another Epi-Pen, and my dad was there, and she already had prednisone and benadryl in her system, we monitored her at the hotel. And she was fine. And then I let myself cry.

Since then, her anxiety has risen to a new level. She abstained from eating dinner, even a bowl of rice, while our family was out at a restaurant with friends one night. She refused to go to a volleyball tournament because I was not the one driving the carpool and I wouldn’t arrive until later. Luckily, the mom driving the carpool was a trained nurse and carries an Epi-Pen, but even that almost didn’t convince her. So, this is a new chapter in our lives — the Anxiety Chapter. She strives for independence and freedom, but is weighed down by her fears. I wonder how long this chapter will last.


How to Get $0 Co-Pay for Epi-Pen or Auvi-Q

Posted on January 11th, 2014 by Alison | Posted in Food Allergies, Saving Money/Sales | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

Did you know that you can get your Epi-Pens or your Auvi-Q (new brand of epinephrine auto-injector) for free? Both companies are offering a $0 Co-Pay program. I wasn’t aware of these programs until a friend told me – before that I was paying over $100 each time I needed to get a refill, which adds up when you need one for school, one for home, and one more to be safe! Plus, they expire every year, so you are forced to get new ones and dump the old.

Here’s how it works:

The Epi-Pen $0 Co-Pay Offer:

What is it?

It’s a savings offer that you can print or store on your smartphone. The EpiPen® $0 Co-Pay Offer helps eligible patients save on out-of-pocket costs for up to $100 per each EpiPen 2-Pak carton. It will cover up to 3 EpiPen 2-Pak cartons per prescription fill. Just present your card at the pharmacy each time you drop off or refill your prescription.

Use it again and again.

Your EpiPen $0 co-pay card is reusable for each prescription through December 31, 2014. It’s good for up to three EpiPen 2-Pak or EpiPen Jr 2-Pak cartons at a time, so you can have several EpiPen 2-Pak cartons available in different locations.

Patient Instructions*: Present your card along with a valid prescription for EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors 2-Pak carton or EpiPen Jr (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors 2-Pak carton. Maximum benefit of $100 per EpiPen 2-Pak® carton where applicable. This offer may be used on up to three EpiPen 2-Pak cartons per prescription. This offer can be used an unlimited number of times until the offer expires on 12/31/2014.

For more information, visit the Epi-Pen Co-Pay Offer page.

The Auvi-Q $0 Co-Pay Offer:

Eligible Patients: Maximum benefit of $100 per two‑pack of Auvi‑Q, up to a maximum of three two‑packs per prescription. This offer can be used an unlimited number of times until 12/31/2014. Prescriber ID# required on prescription. This offer is not valid for prescriptions covered by or submitted for reimbursement under Medicaid, Medicare, or similar federal or state programs including any state medical pharmaceutical assistance program.

Patient Instructions: If prescription is covered by insurance, you may need to notify the insurance carrier of redemption of this copay card. Patient not eligible if prescriptions are paid in part or full by any state or federally funded programs, including, but not limited to, Medicare or Medicaid. In order to redeem this card you must have a valid prescription for Auvi‑Q.

For more information, visit the Auvi-Q Co-Pay Offer page.


New Summer Camp for Kids with Food Allergies

Posted on January 29th, 2013 by Alison | Posted in Babies & Kids, Camp, Food Allergies | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

I am happy to announce that there is a new summer camp in Oregon for kids with food allergies. As far as I know, it is the only one of its kind. When I told my daughter about how she wouldn’t have to worry about the food if she went to a camp like this, she said wide-eyed, “It would be like I didn’t have food allergies!” Yes, my love, it would. I don’t think she’s quite ready for sleep-away camp this year (she’s 8), but I want to support this wonderful camp so that when she’s ready, she has this option.

Here is the email I received about the camp:

I am happy to let you know that Camp Blue Spruce, a worry-free camp for kids with food allergies, is now accepting campers for its 2013 session, August 18-23. Loads of fun activities and OregonÂ’s great outdoors will make Camp Blue Spruce the highlight of the summer for children with and without food allergies.

We are excited about holding our first session this summer. Camp Blue Spruce will be like any other summer camp EXCEPT the food will be prepared without any of the top 8 food allergens, gluten or sesame. Up to 56 kids will be able to sit down at the table and eat all the foods that are being served — a simple gift for these children, who are rarely able to eat what everyone else is eating.  Kids attending Camp Blue Spruce will have a true camp experience without the worry and anxiety they experience daily with their food allergies. Camp Blue Spruce parents can be worry-free, too!

There are a few things you can do to help make this summer a success:

  1. Register your child for camp. Visit www.campbluespruce.org for the application. Registrations are arriving already, so sign up today!
  2. Encourage your friends with and without food allergies and sensitivities to register. We have reduced the cost for 2013 to make thecamp available to more kids.
  3. Let us know if you can leave postcards at your doctorÂ’s office, naturopath, favorite food store, bakery, library or school. If you have other ways to spread the word, please let us know.
  4. Make a charitable contribution to Camp Blue Spruce. We cannot launch this camp solely with camp fee revenue. Your tax-deductible contribution will do three important things – promote the camp, provide scholarships to campers who are unable to pay the entire camp fee, and help cover essential camp costs. Donations can be mailed to: Camp Blue Spruce, 3519 NE 15th, #225, Portland, OR 97212.

Thank you for your interest and support of Camp Blue Spruce! Please call or email if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Louise Tippens
Camp Blue Spruce Board President
503-726-8886
info@campbluespruce.org

I really hope this camp is a success!