The Day After Anaphylaxis

I can’t claim to know what it is like in other homes the day after anaphylaxis. But this is a snippet of what it is like in my home.

The day after an emergency run to the hospital is a strange day because it is such a contrast to the moment a food emergency is happening. When you are facing a severe food allergy reaction, everything happens fast – and must. You must inject epinephrine. You must get 911 on the line. You must get the ER. You must keep a close eye on any emerging or continuing symptoms of anaphylaxis. You can’t forget to record the time everything started happening.  You must keep a second auto-injector nearby.  Everyone’s adrenaline is pumping. And in all this, you must remain calm and focused. There is no time for doubt or waiting around.

Once our son was on his way to the hospital, the exposure needed to be completely cleaned up. In this case, that meant cleaning every surface in our kitchen, completely cleaning two refrigerators, washing pot holders and linens at the sink, and packing up and moving out a whole bunch of cross contaminated vegetables. We did all this after getting home from the ER, which meant it was a very late night for the parents in our house. We also continued to check on our son to make sure that he was staying stable and give him meds throughout the night.  Sleep did not come easily.

By contrast, the day after anaphylaxis at our home moves slowly. It is a strange day – a day in which we are all acutely aware that live an almost normal life. Eating is hard for all us. We look at food and wonder: what will this do to the one we love?  So, we find the safest, most comfortable food possible to put on the table.  In our house, that means we will be making a record-breaking number of sausage balls and pancakes.

The day after anaphylaxis the smallest things stand out and fill me with gratitude – like sunlight streaming through a window, sweet piano music played by my children, and quiet peace.

The day after anaphylaxis you talk on the phone. You read emails. You read Facebook. You show your allergic child how many people love him, support him, and are praying for him.  It brings a huge smile to see that people as far flung as Nairobi, Kenya; Oxford, UK; Atlanta, GA; Canada; Spain; California; and the dear people around the corner are praying for you. You pray that this love holds in your son’s heart forever and that he will never forget these prayers.

The day after anaphylaxis you take every opportunity to tell your child that he is full of courage. “Did I remember to tell you, son, that you were very brave?” “You looked in the eyes of a scary, hard situation and you handled it courageously.” “Brave boy.  Well done.” “Did I tell how proud of you I am?” Let me say it again and again.

The day after anaphylaxis, you drink a lot of coffee. Why? Because exhaustion hits you like waves on the seashore. And coffee tastes so normal, so stabilizing. It is such a small pleasure to drink coffee with your spouse, so you indulge and hold hands.

The day after anaphylaxis you seek comfort. The youngest reads her favorite books – all of them – one after another. My son plays piano and then picks up his guitar singing a worship song: “Your love never fails, it never gives up, never gives up on me.”  You seek normalcy, and a little homework and a little laundry, but only a little.

The day after anaphylaxis you marvel at the service dog who is intuitively checking every vegetable in sight without being asked. She checks and clears the pumpkins on your porch that have been sitting out for a month, the box of grapefruit at the voice teachers home, and everything that comes near your son. How does she know?

The day after anaphylaxis you go through the events of last night in your mind over and over and over. Did we act fast enough? What if we had seen this symptom? Would you be able to inject yourself next time?  How did the vegetables become compromised? Who should we call about this? What if we can’t buy food from there anymore? You ask until your head hurts, your neck muscles feel like electrical cords, and you realize its time to stop questioning yourself and breathe. And breathe again. And again. And again.

The day after anaphylaxis you end the way you wanted to end the night before.  You hold hands at the table, pray, and eat safely. You cuddle up on the couch and watch a light-hearted movie grateful that everyone is in the room. And you end thankful to the Lord for this day – for this one, safe day because there is a tomorrow.

Leave a comment


  1. stacey

     /  February 28, 2015

    My daughter is 15 months and have found out she is severely allergic to dairy peanuts eggs and casein. I am scared to death. Can you tell me Me about your service dog?

  2. stacey

     /  March 1, 2015

    We are thinking of getting a service dog for our sweet iris. Who did you go with? Is the dog still performing. Would you recommend this service to a new parent of severe allergies


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