“The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them. This act of faith frees you from resentment and frees Me to work My ways into the situation, so that good emerges from it. “
This was the quote my mother had sent me the morning after we had to inject our son with an Epi-Pen and had to rush him to the ER on what was meant to be a beautiful family vacation. My mother had no idea what we had been through the night before, she sends us inspirational quotes each day. This one was a message that I heard loud and clear. This message about looking at unwanted situations to learn and see the good in them is the exact reason I’m writing this post today. It’s not to tell you about food, the dangers of stress or sugar. It’s to tell you about a huge life threatening mistake yours truly made. You know the one. The Certified Holistic Health Coach, the Author of an award winning book about food allergies and health? The one that has a blog that gives other people information about allergies and what to do about them? Yes, that’s me…I’m the right one you are thinking of and I hope you can understand how important talking about my mistake is and that if you in fact have a child with allergies you hear me LOUD AND CLEAR!
More and more often I read these horror stories of children dying of anaphylaxis. They scare me to death and I wonder many times why the person didn’t carry his or her Epi-Pen. If only they had one they could have saved their child. So there I was in paradise with my son’s Epi-Pen locked and loaded at all times accompanied with the right dosage of Benadryl. I called the resort to make sure they were close to a hospital. I met with the head chef every couple of days on vacation to plan EVERY meal and snack to assure that we would have a safe and fun vacation. I think I had a false sense of security. Maybe I was tired of all the planning, maybe I knew my husband would be giving me an eye roll upon asking the server. One evening after a carefully pre-ordered meal, the children wanted ice cream. I ordered it. I didn’t ask, I didn’t make sure the ice cream wasn’t contaminated with another flavor. Did I finally give in to the question other friends and family had asked so many times before? “Is it really that likely that just a touch of a food containing a nut could hurt him? “
Then came the second mistake I made that night. My son is 11 and a half years old. At this point HE needs to be the one speaking to every server about his allergies, not me. He needs to be well versed in making sure everything is safe for him to eat, not me. It’s not that he wouldn’t, it’s that I still sometimes step in when I need to stay quiet and observe to make sure he has this down. So we all ate our ice cream, watched my husband do a funny dance as he got called up on stage and we laughed and laughed…..for 10 minutes. That’s all it took, and believe me, it can take less than a minute. My son later told me his stomach began to hurt right away but he didn’t want to say anything. This can be the first sign of a serious allergic reaction. The show ended and he told me in a panicked way that he needed to get to a bathroom right away as his stomach was now killing him. We ran to our room and then he said his breathing seemed off. I told him we needed to use the Epi-Pen as I administered the Benadryl. He said, “Mom I’m fine it was just because we were running here.” He later told me how petrified he was of using the Epi-Pen. I kept asking him about his breathing, this was a third mistake. When in doubt, USE THE EPI-PEN!! Do not be scared of it. He finally said, “Mom I think I need it”. At this point a resort employee rushed to our room to alert us that the Doctor was gone for the day but the nurse was on her way. My son actually reached out for his hand as I stuck him. This next line could be the most important one I write. His response to getting this life saving medication was the following and I quote, “That’s it? That didn’t even hurt.” He felt better almost immediately. His leg was affected. It became a little numb but not painful. That was it, from that moment on we both knew if there is EVER a doubt just use it. What a gift to learn this now and not when he is alone or in college. The nurse arrived and said that we had to go to the ER since we administered the medication and for observation. So there we were in the middle of Turks and Caico’s on the way to the hospital. We waited, Chris was drowsy from the Benadryl which was a bit nerve wracking because it resembled someone passing out. He looked at me and said, “Mom I think it’s wearing off.” Then I started to get really scared and spoke to a nurse who finally got us into a room. They gave him prednisone to assure his airways would stay open. Each time he went to sleep I worried it was because he wasn’t feeling well not that he was completely exhausted from what he had just endured. A mother’s mind tends to wander in these situations into places that are dangerous. We were finally discharged and I slept next to him that entire night, unable to sleep for fear of the reaction coming back. An anaphylactic reaction can come back as long as 72 hours after the initial reaction.
The next day he was tired and his leg still sore but he was fine. We were all a little wiser, more experienced and thankful for the time we had left together as a family on vacation. Why weren’t we one of the families that weren’t so lucky? What if I waited longer because he was scared to use the shot, what if the Epi-Pen medicine was expired as they only last a year (that said, you should still use an expired one over not using one). What if the hospital was two hours away? I believe the answer is in writing this post. Many of you know our back story of healing and where we started and how far we have come and I think this is just another reminder that there’s always more work to do. I think God gives us just enough to handle but the deal is that we must share our knowledge, our mistakes and ultimately our hope. My son was once so allergic to eggs he had an anaphylactic reaction to having a bite of gluten free pizza dough that contained egg. It’s now his favorite pizza. It’s time to refocus, it’s time to continue to improve and heal more and research to assure we are doing everything we can with his existing allergies. Food allergies have risen 50% between 1997 and 2011. Every three minutes someone is sent to the ER due to a food allergy. This is NOT the norm, our children should not be dying from eating food that is God given. Something is awfully wrong and Chris and I wont stop learning, investigating and ultimately I pray healing. We will keep you posted along the way with the good AND the bad. We learn so much from both.
For more information on the causes and potential cures of the growing epidemic of food allergies and chronic illness in children, please watch the video below and keep checking in with The Dish!