In case you’re wondering why I keep talking about food allergies...and why I always include a little bit about intolerance and the fact that it is quite different from food allergies and anaphylaxis in there too, it is largely in part to the 4 ER visits (with epinephrine administered) that we have experienced with our 4 year old daughter.
I haven’t written or spoken much about our nightmare that happened just a few days before Thanksgiving because the images of that night still haunt me from time to time.
We were eating dinner on the Monday before Thanksgiving. The kids were both so excited because we were going to decorate the Christmas tree and watch Home Alone, as we do every year, right after our meal. During dinner Amery got a few hives on her face which is not uncommon with food allergies. Hives happen on a weekly basis - we give Benedryl and get on with whatever it was we were doing. Of course we wondered why she had hives since there were no known allergens at the table that night. But we figured all would be well.
The kids decorating the tree.
Our house was high energy as we proceeded to decorate the tree. Everyone in good spirits as the kids giggled as we reminisced about all of our ornaments. Soon after we were finished, Amery told us that she had to throw up. “Ok,” I thought. “This is possibly a 2nd system happening here...” With food allergies and anaphylaxis we are told to administer epinephrine when any two or more systems are reacting (hives and vomiting, hives and swelling, vomiting and coughing or wheezing, etc...). Typically Amery reacts within 0-30 minutes after coming in contact with an allergen. Because a little bit of time had passed since the hives, and they had cleared up, I wasn’t 100% on what to do, so I figured we would watch her and see for a few minutes.
Now, she had some prior reactions to something new - we didn’t know what yet - so we had been keeping a food journal for her allergist with plans to test again soon. So I began to jot down every single ingredient in the journal in the kitchen while Amery sat on the couch. I was writing for just a few seconds then went and sat beside of her. When I looked at her, the girl who just a few minutes earlier was giggling and dancing, sat pale with her head slumped over and her eyes closed. I picked her up so she would wake up and look at me, but she wouldn’t look at me at all. Her eyes kept rolling back in her head as she would mumble “I’m... just... so... tired.” I was telling her in a “happy” voice to look at Mommy, but she just couldn’t do it. My husband and our eight year old son were also in the room. Chip (husband) had his phone in hand telling me to take her to the ER right away. However, I knew that she was fading. She was not responding and unable to keep her eyes open. I knew in my gut that I had to give her the epi pen shot right then and there. Chip ran to get me an epi pen and I proceeded to give it to Amery. Our son, still there watching all of this, later told us that when everything was happening he knelt down to pray for his sister to be ok. He is the most amazing kid.
As I gave her the shot, doing everything we had been trained to do, I was crying and whispering in her ear that everything would be ok. Chip was emotional, but at this point was already calling 911 to get an ambulance. This is where is gets tricky.
The 911 operator asked Chip if we wanted an ambulance or if we wanted to drive her ourselves. In the panic of that moment, we decided we could get to the hospital faster if we just left our house and drove on our own. The four of us hurried out of the house barely making it out with shoes on. Amery was still white as a ghost and not responding - which wasn’t right since the shot typically (the previous 3 times) perked her up and stopped the reaction within a minute give or take.
Amery in her carseat, was vomiting and still unable to properly respond or look at me. I was freaking out inside for a few reasons.
- In our hurry out of the house, I forgot the second shot. I knew deep down she needed another dose, and I didn’t have it.
- When I looked at her head falling from side to side, saw her face so lifeless, when I asked her questions and got no response, when her eyes would not stop rolling back into her head, I knew she was dying. Wow. That is even hard to type. I had no control over anything that was happening, and my little girl was barely hanging on.
I was multi-tasking as I talked to the 911 operator who had notified police not to stop us and told the ER to expect us, I was trying to keep talking to Amery begging her to look at me, talk to me... do something to let me know she’d be ok, and I was in constant communication with Jesus on the inside. Praying over my little one to be alright.
After more meds and staying most of the night in the ER, she was ok. She was ok! Thank you, Jesus. She was ok.
Amery and me lying on the bed in the ER.
The images from our living room, and even more so the car ride to the ER are forever burned into my brain. They’ve woken me up at night, haunted my dreams... but I am thankful that Amery is ok. She is alive and well. Her big brother, who is so strong, watched everything and was with us in the ER the entire time, thought to pray in the midst of the chaos Chip and I were experiencing. He is so very special.
Food allergies and anaphylaxis are completely lame. I hate them. I want the world to know as much as possible about the true dangers of anaphylaxis so that kids like Amery can be as safe as they can. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and other posts.
Oh, as for what caused that reaction? Carrots. Yep. A veggie she ate all the time, all of a sudden caused an anaphylactic reaction.