The Scare of My Life.April 16, 2012 at 8:32 am | Posted in allergies, doctor, motherhood, Parenting | 25 Comments
We were on my neighbor’s porch last night after Lucky’s dinner, having drinks with them. Lucky was blowing bubbles and gathering sticks, and we enjoyed the nice feels-like-summer night.
I watched when Lucky casually popped a cashew in his mouth.
You do that when you have a kid who’s allergic to eggs: you watch what he eats at other people’s house and mentally run through a quick checklist. Has he eaten that before? Any egg in it?
No, but peanuts are okay. No egg. Fine.
Two minutes later, when he climbs into my lap, quiet, I think okay, bedtime. He’s tired. I stand up to carry him home.
And then he gets sick.
It was quick, and just a little bit. And my radar goes up. Shit, I think, what did he eat?
Nothing he hasn’t eaten before. Except the cashew.
By the time I get to our house, he is trying to sniffle though a completely stuffed up nose. And I’m alarmed, but I think well, maybe when he got sick some went into his sinuses and it’s clogging him up. I ask him to take a deep breath, and he can, and I think, Ok, he’s breathing fine.
So I take off the pukey shirt and start the bath, and he’s laying down on the mat in front of the tub and crying. He says, I can’t HEAR from my ears!
And I see the hives running down his arm. I think: he needs benadryl. So I rummage through the upstairs cabinet. Tylenol, advil, claritin. No benadryl.
I find it downstairs. And I pour a teaspoon and a half into the cup, and go upstairs and have him drink it, telling him it’ll help him breathe better.
And he takes it, but he’s crying. And now I’m terrified now, inside. Something is VERY wrong.
I ask him to breathe deeply again, and he can, no issue.
WTF do I do?
Internal alarms are jangling. I haven’t been this scared EVER. But he’s breathing. That’s okay, right?
I call my best friend, the one with the host of food allergies, the one I KNOW will tell me what’s what. The one who recently had an ER visit because of cross contaminated broccoli. I whisper, answer, answer, answer as I hear the phone ring. She answers, and I tell her that Lucky ate a cashew and he threw up and he’s really stuffy and there are hives, and I needed her to tell me if I needed to take him to the hospital.
She tells me, call his doctor now. And so I do. It’s Sunday night, so the pediatrician’s office is closed. So I have to give a message to the call service, which I do. I tell Lucky that I called the doctor, and she was going to call me back and tell me what to do.
Lucky is crying, I want to go to the doctor! And his voice is all garbled, and now I’m really scared.
I call Charlie, who is still on our neighbor’s porch, and I tell him to come home now, that Lucky was having a bad reaction and I thought we might have to take him to the ER. And in the meantime, my best friend texts me that if I had any questions, I should use the epi pen. That it won’t hurt Lucky if he doesn’t need it.
And I’m thinking, where’s our epi pen?
And my stomach sinks. We’ve had an epi pen for years, ever since he was diagnosed with his egg allergy at 15 months. I had recently gotten rid of it, though, in anticipation of getting an updated one. THIS PAST WEEK I went to refill it, and they told me that it was going to cost $341 on the new insurance. And that day, I told them to hold off on filling it. Because, you know, his egg allergy wasn’t bad enough that we’ve ever needed it before.
While I’m thinking this, the phone rings – it’s the doctor’s office. I tell her the same thing I told my best friend, and she asks me, You have an epi pen, right? And I tell her I don’t. And she tells me to get off the phone and call 911.
Charlie’s there, all of a sudden, and we’re getting Lucky out of the bath, who is crying and crying, and tell him we’re going to go see a doctor. We get him into his pajamas, go downstairs, put on our shoes, and get in the car. There’s a hospital with an ER a mile from our house – we’re going there. I make Charlie sit in the back with Lucky, who has gone quiet now. It’s terrifying me, his quiet, and I look back and make him talk to me, even through the garbled.
I get stuck behind a guy going 30 on the way there, and I want to ram him. I’m so scared my kid’s throat is closing, and he’s going to suffocate right there in the car, while I’m stuck behind some idiot on a Sunday night who won’t even do the speed limit, the jackass.
Charlie says, calm down. It’s okay. Everything is okay.
Everything is NOT okay. My kid is really, really sick.
I carry him into the ER with me, snot everywhere, telling him that we were at the hospital and we’d make him feel better soon. Under the flourescent lights inside, I can see that Lucky has hives all over his face, too, and he looks a little swollen.
And the receptionist takes my ID and Lucky’s insurance card and then calls back, There’s a four year old who’s having a pretty bad allergic reaction. Can you come get him? And a nurse appears, and takes us back. And I sit on the bed with Lucky in my lap, and five people appear.
There are nurses and doctors and an EMT and a resident. The come with needles for an IV port and I’m closing my eyes as Lucky screams, holding him, telling him it’s going to be okay, the doctors are going to help him. And the people swarm around, doing whatever they’re doing.
And I say to the doctor, I didn’t have the epi pen. He’s never reacted like this to eggs.
They put a port into his arm, in the crook of his right elbow. They take his pulse and his blood oxygen levels and they give him the epi medicine through the port in his arm. And Lucky screams, It’s going into my arm!! And the nurse gives him another shot in his left arm – what, I’m not certain. But I don’t really care – they know what they’re doing and I don’t care what they have to do as long as they make him better.
Things settle down. The people leave. Charlie goes to do paperwork, and it’s just Lucky on my lap and me. He’s facing out, and I’m rocking him, wrapped in my arms, whispering that I’m here. And we just sit there, and I can feel his breathing even out. And he’s not as garbled sounding breathing, and he’s relaxing in my arms. The medicines are working.
Shortly, a nurse comes in and gives us another medicine – this time a steroid, she says, to help with inflammation.
And I’m so damn thankful that we live so close to the hospital, the dinky ER which, when we talked about it, we’d likely never really use, except for real emergencies.
All in all, we were at the hospital last night for an hour and a half. We got back to the house a little after 9, and Lucky was asleep within minutes. We had to check on him every two hours last night. Every time I went into his room, he was sound asleep, breathing steady.
And this morning, he’s completely fine.
I talked to my best friend last night, who I knew would be worried. And she told me that peanuts and cashews are not the same thing – cashews are tree nuts, where peanuts are ground nuts, more like legumes.
After Lucky was asleep, Charlie and I drank a bottle of wine. And we wondered. Has Lucky had mixed nuts before? He eats peanut butter every day, since the allergist tested him for it when the egg allergy came back. He’s had cereal with almonds in it.
So today I owe a call to his allergist. I want him tested for all tree nuts now.
And $350 or not, we’ll get his epi pen. And will make sure it’s always with us.
Not the way I wanted to learn my kid’s allergic to cashews, that’s for sure.
Thank god he’s okay.