The Phone Call Every Allergic Parent Dreads

It came in second grade. It was a typical sunny California day.  I dropped Benjamin off at his school as I drove to my meeting at work.  Joel dropped Natalie off at her school as he drove out to Pepperdine, 30 minutes away.

In the middle of my meeting, my cell phone went off.   I noticed right away that it was the school’s number.  I excused myself, went to the hallway, and answered the phone.

The call began. “Hi, this is Connie. Benjamin is in my office complaining of a peanut emergency. I’m not sure whether to give him an epi pen or not.”  Emotions hit with the force of  a tsunami.

Inside myself it sounded and felt something like this: Be calm and think clearly. Go! Now!  Breathe.  Get to him! Go! Now!  Pray! I started praying, “Dear God, let him live. Let him live. Please let him live.”

I looked up and realized that I needed to respond the group of people at my work staring at me.  I don’t even know what I said or if I was coherent. I vaguely remember saying the words “peanut emergency” and people asking me what they could do to help. All I could think was I have to go! Now!

With sinking fear inside I wondered, “WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME, SCHOOL! We have a plan. A clear plan. An easy plan. It goes like this: In An Emergency: 1. Give Epi Pen 2. Call 911  3.Call Parents.”

Fortunately, my work was about 2 blocks from Benjamin’s school. I drove there. I walked in the door and saw “the look.”  He was itching severely all over although there were no hives. He was pale. He was clearing his throat. His eye started swelling as I walked in. AND STILL IT WAS HARD FOR ME TO PULL THE TRIGGER ON THE EPI PEN. I knew to give it and it was still hard. I gave him an epi pen and carried him to my car and drove 3 more blocks to the hospital Emergency Room. We went to triage, and waited for nearly 6 hours there. They observed him and administered more steroid medication when the epinephrine’s effects started to fade.

One reason that the school did not follow the emergency plan was because Benjamin had not had any food to eat at school.  It was before lunch and before snack time. Benjamin had begun to feel his body change during a transition from the gym area where there were other children eating snack food and candy.  He met his teacher at the door and said, “I am having a peanut emergency.”  She sent him directly to the office.  We don’t know what triggered anaphylaxis that day.  We do know it was a residue reaction.  Benjamin came into contact with some sort of nut residue somewhere, left unknowingly by someone.  He scratched his eye, mouth, or nose and that was all it took.  That’s all it took for the onset of anaphylaxis for him.

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  1. Anaphylaxis in Rome (part 1 of 2) « Benjamin's BlogDog

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