Saturday, December 16, 2006

Being vigilant

ER at Brackenridge Hospital

When I grew up, I had never heard of food allergies and apparently, in my family we had none. For some reason, and people attribute it to food processing, food additives, the environment or genes, there are so many more food allergies around that food items have to include a content label with a warning of what potential allergen could be included. So when you or your family member have an allergy, it's label reading time and you look not only for the list of ingredients, but you look straight to the bottom of the list that could say "may include traces of..." or "was processed on something that included...". Well, yesterday was our day of reminding us to be vigilant even though it wasn't really 'us' but my son's teachers who unwittingly thought that there would not be anything allergenic in the cinnamon streusel birthday muffin a mom brought to class. WRONG!

Yesterday afternoon when I picked up my son from school, we were supposed to bring a class mate home for a playdate. As I arrived, the teacher's assistant came out (where they let out the kids) and told me that my son had reacted to a birthday snack that he ate 10 minutes prior. His lips were swollen and they gave him benadryl. I tried to get through to his allergist right away but couldn't so I called his pediatrician instead.

After I told her what happened and that I did not know what he ingested (the mom made cinnamon streusel muffins but could not remember whether it was a Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. The mom wasn't going to be home and couldn't look on the box and said she would call me that night when she'd get home. She might have called me on the cell, it did not look as if she called home last night.)

Anyway, the nurse at the pediatricians' said to watch him for 20 min. after he'd taken the benadryl to see if he would get worse because I'd have to administer the EPIPEN and call 911. Christmas traffic already started up before 3pm so she did not want me to get stuck in traffic with him in case something else happened. My son seemed ok so I called her and she told me to come over to the office. When we got to the office, they checked his O2 SAT level of course and wanted to keep him for an hour. The doctor also called his allergist buddy who gave him a list of meds to take and told him to keep him at the office longer because of a possible delayed allergic reaction.

Sure enough, he started to get restless and complained he wanted to go home and he started to lean against me saying he wanted to sleep. Then he started to yawn and burp and I figured he was about to 'urp'. So I quickly went to the nurse to tell her what I expected him to do and she was about to give him Orapred but figured he wouldn't be able to take it orally. He had dry heaves for a bit and when he was 'done', (nothing came out I wish it had) then they gave him a neb treatment and after that, inspite of his oxygen level being normal, he started to look a bit worse.

buy an epipen

His pediatrician had talked to our pediatric allergist in the meantime describing his symptoms and she told him he was going through anaphylaxis so he had to have an epipen shot and then he had to be taken to the hospital for an IM prelone. Well, the epipen was a first for him and it startled him but he said it didn't hurt. He started to feel much better after that and soon after the EMTs came. My daughter and I drove with him in the ambulance to the children's hospital (I almost got sick from the bumpy, sitting sideways ride!) and I had already called my husband to meet me up there at the ER. Well, during the ride he was fine and his oxygen was fine too so you guessed it, he wasn't bad enough to be helped right away even though his allergist had talked to an ER doctor. We got there about 6:30 and he did not get seen until 9:30!

It was busy with people without insurance (for the most
part illegal immigrants by the looks of it although that said anyone with a lowpaying job would not have insurance or some medcare type insurance). The waiting room was freezing and when we finally got taken back to a room at 9, we could at least warm up and play 'I spy with my little eye'. We were pretty bored and tried to stay clear from all the germs in the waiting room. (the free clinics close at night which is very unpractical) My son was pretty patient the whole time and his ER doctor was pretty nice. She apparently interned under our allergist and spoke very highly of her. Oh and when he got registered and they took his vitals etc and processed his info on the computer, we found out he had broken out in bumps all over his back and arms (somewhat less) and his chest.

ANY way... he got one more dose of benedryl before we left the hospital and my husband in the meantime had gone to get my car at the doctor's place with the help of a collegue's daughter and then he took our daughter in the truck home to get the meds and my son came with us. We went straight to a McD's for take out and finally got home at 10:20! As my husband had gone to get my son's meds from the pharmacy he
called me that the prelone wasn't there so I called the nurse on call who
said that they expected the hospital to administer the prelone IM which they
decided not to so..for the 70cts worth, my husband had to first go home to bring our daughter home who had finally pooped out and then had back to the pharmacy to get the 70cts worth of prelone since What a day!

But, I told my son, well, unless someone can tell us exactly what is in a birthday snack or how it was made or bring the package, we have to say no and be more vigilant.

At his school, since it's not a public school, they don't have the rules as they do in public school so I am going to compose an email (that will be distributed) to explain that regardless, do not give any food unless absolutely sure!

When someone is allergic and has had an allergic reaction again, each progressive next allergic reaction will be worse.
So advice from our pediatrician; when someone with an allergy has a reaction,
immediately administer the epipen and call 911. It is better not to take
any chances. So read labels and just say no!


Blogger Mary said...

What a nightmare! My daughter has been having food allergies too for the last year. So sorry. Glad he is feeling better.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Granny said...

We had almost no allergies (except the usual hay fever) when I was a kid or even when my own children were young.

Now it seems they're everywhere. Makes me wonder, not so much about the actual food, but about what it's being grown in or what is being added.

I'm so glad your little guy is okay,

4:10 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Dear Mary, it's a learning process when you're faced with food allergies isn't it? That's why I figured I'd write about it because if (and hopefully we'll never have to) we have to deal with this again, I would immediately use the epipen and not the benadryl. It's par for the course being a parent these days isn't it? Although you have your share of worries and then some with your son in Iraq (I'm remembering that correctly I hope? I don't want to get my blogger friends confused with one another!!)'re so right. But the more I learn and read, I think it's not just what's added, but what we're deprived off. A diet that's anti-inflamatory (like the Mediterranean diet touted by Andrew Weil) seems to be the key because it has to do with immunity as well and who knows how our genes/dna is being altered by the stuff that is added to our food without our knowledge! Think bioengineered food crops supposedly to ward off bugs but in the meantime, they do add some serious nasty things in those seeds!
Yes, Dirk is doing quite well now but we're watching him closely still..
have a great weekend guys!

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food allergies? Believe it or not, my oldest cat has them. Iams dry food is the only one I can feed him unless i want to see him throwing up around the apartment.

I'm glad your son is doing better. Let's hope nothing like this happens again.

3:51 AM  
Anonymous heathlander said...

Glad your son is OK, Ingrid.

I think I might have a food allergy, because I regularly get (very mild) symptoms for no apparent reason. But is it the pasta? The pizza? The yoghurt? Who knows.

Food. Can't trust it.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im glad this journey has taken a good course and that your son is OK!
(my type in letters are "gnosi", it almost has some meaning this time)

10:09 AM  

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