The Time We Used the Epi-Pen


I’ve been thinking about resurrecting Anny the Mommy for a while. I’ve even got something in the works! More on that later. 🙂

Something happened a week and a half ago that opened my eyes and I knew that I had to tell the story.

My son has severe allergies. Severe. He has both food and environmental allergies and they are of equal severity at times. His environmental allergies are very bad during the months of May-July and November-January. It’s not really clear which things are triggering him during those months. Believe me, we’d love to know! But there don’t always seem to be common denominators so it’s very hard.

We do everything we can to keep his known allergens as far away as we can. We vacuum daily, wash sheets and pillowcases in hot water with all-natural detergent, sand keep our pets out of our main family room and out of bedrooms.

But it doesn’t always matter.

Much of the time, his allergies cause major asthma attacks. Again, we don’t know why. After each episode, we try to look at where the events happened and see if we can pinpoint why. The best we can ever do is an educated guess.

E has been doing well, though. For two years, we didn’t have an episode of any sort that couldn’t be quickly and easily remedied by Benadryl, essential oils, and/or his nebulizer.

I have always known that using the epi pen might be a possibility. It’s just always a possibility. But actually needing it? I think I got a little cocky in thinking that it was under control.

Then on Thursday, December 3rd, I got the call ever allergy parent lives in fear of. I was in my car and I didn’t hear the phone ring because my car is kind of old and loud. I stopped to grab some food and the phone rang again. It was one of E’s teachers telling me that he’d had a severe attack and had to have the epi-pen. And I didn’t hear the call the first two times! I pretty much stare at my phone all the time when I’m not with him now.

I’d already paid for my food,but I left it and stomped on the gas and put my emergency flashers on. I was maybe a mile from my kid, but I couldn’t, could not, get there fast enough. I pulled into the school and ran inside.

He was sitting calmly wearing his little blue coat. I saw he was okay and my heart stopped and then restarted. E started to cry when he saw me and I pulled him in my lap while his teacher called 911. I didn’t feel like I was in my body because I was too scared to be there.

While we waited, his wonderful teacher told me what happened. He was playing outside, running and playing, and he started coughing. It got bad fast. We are so lucky that E has the teacher he has. She was our nanny for about six months before becoming his teacher and she is very familiar with his challenges. She said it was the worst she’d ever seen from him.

The teachers were so calm and wonderful. The other children weren’t alarmed and most of them probably had no idea that anything had happened at all. I’m so grateful for that.

We took an ambulance ride, a very fast one down some curvy ass roads, to the hospital. To my great surprise, I didn’t throw up. On the way, he had two albuterol treatments and improved quite a bit. He was almost as good as new when we got to the hospital thanks to the epi-pen and the albuterol.

At the hospital, everyone was very kind. However, it took time and a lot of explaining before they understood that it was asthma/allergies. I’m a little bit used to this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when someone has a child with chronic health issues and they need medical care, listen to their parents. No one is more familiar with their child’s health than their parents. We live with this stuff all day, every day and are typically well-educated on the particular health concerns our children have. And all parents want is to feel heard and understood.

After the mandatory waiting period (four hours after a shot of epinephrine), my boy was fine. He was bouncing off the walls and hopped up on albuterol and steroids. I’m sure that others in the emergency room wondered what was going on in room 110.

No one slept much that night.

The next night, we had a school event. We had a hard time deciding whether or not we should go. E seemed okay. He coughed a little and broke out, but that isn’t terribly unusual. We gave him a breathing treatment and decided to go for a little while.

We got there, made a gingerbread house, and went to the party. Within ten minutes, E started to have another asthma attack.

This time, we didn’t use the pen though we got close. Very close. We worked very hard for ten or fifteen minutes to get it under control. It was terrifying. His face was very red, swollen, and he couldn’t breathe.

It was maybe the most terrifying fifteen minutes of my life except for the day before, or when he was having his surgeries. I think it goes without saying that my nerves are shot. As E would say, “my nerbs are shot.” I’m only just now getting comfortable with being home alone with my kids even though I’m home alone with them often because my husband works a lot. And my husband had EMT training so it feels a little less scary when he’s around.

Our lives are not normal. We try really hard to pretend that everything is normal, but then something happens to remind us that normal might only be temporary here.

We’ve started seeing a new doctor and my stress level immediately went down when he walked in the room. After always going to a pediatrician group where you might see any one of eight or so doctors, it feels good and safe to have one doctor. We’ve started a new medication and have already seen some great improvement. We went to a wedding (the bride was completely breathtaking) and he had a very small and very manageable attack. It was easy to manage and work through but how much do I wish that we could go somewhere and not have this happen? I wish it hard. Every day.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety but now it is my greatest struggle. Five times a day, I’m filled up with pure fear. I’ve been having panic attacks right and left and then I feel bad because the last thing my family needs to deal with is my anxiety. I’m trying very hard to do the things that I know are helpful. Meditating, radical self-care, and staying away from the news are important for me at times like this. Especially when my husband is working, I have to keep it together.

Every day, I hope for a good day. We do have good days but you just never know when shit is going to go south.

In this day of food allergies, epi pens, and difficult-to-pinpoint triggers, I feel like it’s important to talk about what we go through here. Maybe it could help just one family. With that said, Anny the Mommy is returning. I hope that sharing our journey of allergies and asthma will be encouraging and funny, when that’s possible. I hope sharing about my depression and anxiety will help just one mother.

Thanks for having me back.


4 thoughts on “The Time We Used the Epi-Pen

  1. Thank you for writing this Anny… This sounds terrifying, and I am so sorry you have to deal with this on a daily, always, basis. Like you said, just wishing you could relax for a day, just do “normal” things… That must take so much persistence and hope to just get through the day. I know what several a day panic attack days are like, and they are hell. I hope E’s allergies become less and less severe as he grows up. I’m glad you have one good Dr. you feel safe with now.
    Easier said than done, but remember to breathe as deeply as possible as often as possible, love you in every way you can love you, and put on your own mask before assisting others.
    I love you.
    I asked Santa for a Kindle just so I could order your BOOK Meadow Perkins on Amazon!
    Also, “my nerbs are shot.” That is freakin adorable.

  2. Thanks for sharing. My son had food allergies when he was younger. We didn’t have to use an Epi-pen, but he had other reactions. He did eventually outgrow the allergies or so the doctor said. I have allergies myself so I have started using Ava Anderson Non Toxic products to hopefully me.

    1. Yes! I think it’s been helpful that we totally switched from toxic chemicals to essential oils and non-toxic cleaner. We use Melaleuca but I’ve heard great things about Ava Anderson too!

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