Well, it happened. We finally had to break out the epipen. I knew one day we would have to use it, although in the back of my mind I thought, "nah, we'll be ok.." Our little Ian had some contaminated food and went into full anaphylactic shock. It started out small, with his allergy specific fussiness followed by some clamminess. I gave him the benedryl (which has been done before), but then an hour or so later the coughing started, the cold clamminess returned, and with the raspy breathing, led to a very rapid decline. I called the doc, shot him with the epipen (which is a concentrated dose of epinephrine- or straight adrenaline), and even WITH the instant redbull, he was losing consciousness on the entire Indy500 wow my husband has mad driving skills ride to the hospital. Watching your two year old's eyes roll to the back of his little head, his skin turn yellow, and having to actively keep him awake was the most difficult part for me, I think. Fast forward to the 5 failed attempts at administering an IV (his veins had collapsed due to the drop in blood pressure, but don't worry, I was told, if we need to we can administer the IV by putting a needle into his bone.. Thank goodness we didn't have to do that!) and an 8 hour hospital stay, and I don't have to tell you I don't ever want to experience that again. Very scary indeed.
But with all of this anxiety and fear, comes an almost empowering sense of hyper vigilance. I had to re-buy several stock pantry items, making sure the new items do not share machines with dairy or sesame. The most difficult item to find was cocoa powder. With all the baking I do, cocoa powder is essential in my cupboard. You would think that cocoa powder would be safe, it's just straight cocoa, but alas, most cocoa powder manufacturers also make milk chocolate and use the same machines.. I prevailed at Whole Foods, and my faith in the food industry has been restored. And now, let my dairy free sesame free cookbook really commence!
One other good thing has come out of this. Ian's reaction started in a restaurant we frequent. Eating out with food allergies is difficult, indeed, so I have to really make sure the waitstaff and chefs know about Ian's allergies. Our regular waitress, Renee, is great and she knows us well. She wasn't there on Friday, however, and a new waiter helped us. I went through my regular spiel about what we can eat. There are a few items that we can eat, as there is no dairy or sesame anywhere near the recipes. (I say we, because when I am with Ian, I am dairy free as well. I like to give him a little solidarity, and if you've ever seen his little face, you'll understand why I don't ever want to have to tell him he can't eat what I'm eating). I don't quite know what happened, if the waiter didn't take Ian's allergy as seriously as it is, or if it was a cross contamination of the food, or if it was a negligent browning of the bread on the buttery grill pan. But whatever the case, the waiter experienced Ian's reaction first hand. And after my phone conversation with the manager, and my very VERY detailed explanation of how his anaphylaxis progressed, I am convinced by her horrified response that the waitstaff has not only been alerted, but educated as well. (And, being hyper vigilant, they will be receiving more calls).. Not a lot of people take food allergies as seriously as they should (a case in point being the whole peanut on an airplane situation- is it really SO terrible having pretzels? I don't want to get started on that, and we don't even have peanut allergies). But if I can reach one restaurant at a time, then I think we can make a difference.
I never thought I would be that person, but, there it is. I have become that person.