January 6th, 2017
This is a date that I will never forget regarding our daughter’s life threatening food allergies.
We had gotten skin and blood work testing done and with those results our new allergist was confident a food challenge could be set up. A food challenge is when the patient is given small pieces of their allergen and every 15 minutes if there is no reaction they give a slightly larger piece to see how tolerant they are of that food.
Our appointment was in the calendar and we were excited to potentially cross off a food from her allergy list but her body had a different idea..
She ate the first sample- no reaction. The second sample- her ears got a bit red and she started scratching one of her ears, the doctor said this isn’t something to worry about. The third sample- she started clearing her throat, doctor suggested she have a sip of water or two. The fourth sample- she broke out from head to toe in angry hives, wheezing, scratching, and definite fear in her eyes.
The doctor called in the nurses and said it’s time to give oxygen and steroids. They put the oxygen mask onto her face and the doctor pulled me aside. He asked have you ever used an Epi-Pen before. I stared at him like a deer in highlights for a second or two and finally found my voice- no I said shakily. He said well now is the time to learn. With 5 nurses and 2 doctors in the room I used the Epi-Pen on my daughter with the doctor’s help while counting and reassuring her this will help her feel much better.
Less than a minute later her breathing wasn’t as ragged and she wasn’t coughing or wheezing. She still had the oxygen mask on and a doctor was checking her heart and lungs while another nurse was checking the rest of her body for changes in her hives. Another 15 minutes went by and her breathing was back to normal and she wasn’t itchy but she still had hives everywhere but not as huge and angry. Doctor gave her a dose of Zyrtec and Benadryl and we monitored for four hours while her hives slowly disappeared.
Then they sent us home with instructions on what to do the next time of a probable ingestion of the foods she is allergic to or if her symptoms came back which could happen but less likely. Again our daughter had other ideas and after 6 hours of initial reaction, hives spread all over her body, this time with no breathing difficulties. We immediately called the doctor who ordered her to take steroids, Zyrtec, and Benadryl for the next week. The next week every 6 hours or so her hives would come back but a little less severe. Her allergist thought she was a very interesting case.
Our daughter recovered and since then we have been ever vigilant on keeping any of her allergens out of our house and stay away from foods that may contain or manufactured with her allergens.
This experience has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it was the best possible place to learn to use our epi-pen but a curse because we saw how quickly and scary her reactions to her allergens can be.
I am sharing this experience with everyone to show that food allergies can be scary but with proper guidance can at least make situations like this manageable.