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Friday, March 16, 2007

Code 2

Among my various feeds tonight I came across a message board post that recounted the first-hand version of an anaphylactic reaction. One poster summed it up best when he applauded the poster for maintaining a sense of humour.

Our daughter had a similar episode due to peanut allergy, complete with the hives, swelling, no-Epipen, 911 call, and the ambulance ride - albeit a Code-2-free ride. It is eerie to gain a better understanding what she might have went through.


Delilah said...

Hello there! Thanks for leaving the address for your site so I could take a look. It is a surreal experience, or it was for me this time, going through the allergy. I ate them..I swallowed. As soon as I swallowed them, I knew. I went to the cupboard where they were, read the package and sure enough..though I needed no validation, as my throat swelling and hives around my lips and swollen lips gave me a big clue..peanut butter. I went to the computer room, motioning for my roomate to follow me to the kitchen, and showed him the box of cookies he had just bought and the ones I had just ate. And he went into a frantic searching-for-my-epi-pen..and I thought I had put it in my I look in my purse while it's all getting worse and my voice changes to a lispy/raspy thing..and I'm just concentrating on finding the needle, not thinking about much else. And when I couldn't I shook my head no at my roomate, and he immediately called 911. I sat on a chair in the living room just before they came and was a little bit anxious because it was continuing to get worse, but I could still breathe. But I knew pretty soon I wouldn't. So all I was thinking about it is I hope they get here soon. They did, within 2 or three minutes, but it felt longer to me.

They asked me questions, but I lost my voice at this point and couldn't reply with much else other than a low whisper, and than not at all. Started to not be able to breathe. One of the paramedics grabs an injection off the other paramedic and stabs me in the arm with a low dose of epinephrine, while another man is starting an IV on me. At that point I'm wondering what is the point of an IV if they just gave me the shot, I should be better soon. But they put Benadryl in the IV tube. And than continues to get worse, my throat is closing over completely. I'm now starting to gasp for air. And falling sideways off the chair. One of them grabs me, and puts on an oxygen mask and than in comes the stretcher, and I'm not thinking about anything really, other than.." I have to go to the hospital again" as I had just gotten home from there when I ate the cookie! (I had a doctor appointment there for something unrelated) So in the ambulance we are, and one man is talking at me, trying to keep me going I guess, but I can't talk at all, so I'm not sure why he's asking me things. My roomate was riding in the front, as he doesn't drive.

Less gasping, so now I'm not getting barely any air, but I'm still trying. So now all I'm thinking about is trying to get myself to breathe. They put those heart stickies on and take my blood and oxygen levels, oxygen was getting low, and blood pressure spiked from the 120 it was when they first arrived, and now in only a matter of a few minutes it was 166 (can't recall the bottom number, I was trying to focus on being able to breathe) and than in seconds, I couldn't gasp anymore. I remember screaming inside myself, telling myself to breathe and trying, but I couldn't. And my body was kind of convulsing as I was trying, and than I don't remember much at all until we were at the hospital (but just before that was when the paramedic yelled up front a Code 2 and they turned on the sirens) and they gave me another epinephrine shot, but with more juice, just when I arrived and I let out one big gasp when I woke up and than I could breathe some again. And they gave more benadryl at the hospital, and I continuously got better, the hives were the last to go.

It's pretty crazy how all of that can happen in such a short time. You can be there and fine, and eat something and than within five minutes you can't breathe and if the right medical care isn't administered, that can be it, and it's all over. Or you can end up walking away from it. Thankfully I wasn't unconcious and unable to breathe for too long, or I could have had brain damage from the lack of oxygen upon waking. That to me, would have been worse than death.

It is a sobering thought, that if I hadn't of gotten that second needle in time, what might of happened. I'm thankful it didn't, and that the paramedics had the precense of mind to administer the second needle. (not sure why they gave such a low dose the first time, maybe because I was able to breathe still?) I'm not afraid of dying, I've been on the brink before. But I will definitely make sure I have that Epi-Pen on me! I may not be as lucky someday, if I don't take precautions.

I'm sure it's probably more scarey for children, and for the people who are witnessing it happening. Or those who haven't come close to death before. But all you can do once it starts for those who go through it, is using your Epi-Pen, or getting someone else to do it for you, or calling 911, getting to the hospital, and trying your best to stay calm and breathe. It comes harder to breathe, I find, if you're in a panic state and than you might start hyperventilating on top of the already trouble breathing, which is double bad. You just have to try to hold on. As in all things.

I respect what concerned people or parents are trying to do, I think they should take PB out of schools. I can't see a good arguement for not doing it. If it could save a life, and the life of a child at that, there is no reason for not doing it, and any other measures they can take to ensure safety.

Best regards,
(aka Delilah)

NoPeanuts said...

That is an incredible story. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Our daughter was very young when she had her first brush with anaphylaxis. You are right about how surreal it is ... it happens SO FAST!

You description of the fear resonated with me. I will never forget the look of terror in my daughter's eyes as she began to lose her ability to breathe. She never lost consciousness but she did stop breathing for about a half-minute, though it felt like an hour to us. The strangest thing was that look ... her eyes told you that she was scared and though she did not know what was happening she could tell it was something terrifying.

I agree that all you can do is be ready. I also agree with you on the PB in the schools. One concept on the site is that 'It Takes A Village' to manage allergies ... it was great that you had your friend there to help. The fact that people would not help alleric kids in school is bizarre but alas, it is what it is.

When my daughter is old enough I will make sure she reads your post. It would be very insightful for her. Though I hope she never experiences an anaphylactic reaction again, it would be naive to expect her to avoid them in the future.

How many anaphylactic episodes have you had? Glad to hear that you'll keep a close account of the Epipen ... one of the reasons I started this blog was to avoid complacency. Seems many people get a little bit complacent if there is a long time between episodes, though it sounds like you do carry your Epipen. We did not have an Epipen to use on our daughter - it was very scary to be without one. We now have two and they are never out of arm's reach!

Thanks again. Be safe!


Delilah said...

I have had five episodes so far in my life. Two were before I was even diagnosed! They thought I had meningitis (spelling) at the hospital and were giving me a spinal tap! (Yeah that did not feel good.) Those were peanut-oil related. Where they were cooked in it. And there weren't any warnings. The first one after those two, someone had given me what I thought was an M&M but was actually peanut butter reese pieces thing that looks like M&M's. And that's when they finally dianosed me at the hospital. Than there was one time before this one, where it was someone close to me who knew I had an allergy, but didn't read the label carefully enough. (A former boyfriend who bought me an Atkins food bar, as I was trying to diet..but it contained nuts.)..and now this time.

I wish you much luck in teaching your daughter about how to manage it. There maybe situations that are out of her control, but so long as she's prepared, and have people near her who will get/give her the aid she needs, she will be alright. And I'm sure she'll be thankful to have such an aware parent!