Pin It

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hesitation to use the Epipen

In a Nutshell

I had to use the Epipen on AJ at the resort cuz we ate chicken at the Japanese Restaurant with peanut sauce. They were really good at the emergency room at the resort though, with everything they would normally do to a kid at CHEO. It was really scary seeing him like that.  At the restaurant, I was being a bit slow to react to deploy the Epipen (like over 5 minutes to make a decision); and everyone else was like, yah whatever just give him water and go to the bathroom and wash his face...  but I clicked it, the spring back was so strong he screamed and I screamed. Anyway the effect was immediate. Thank God they have really good medical care there (I guess they have to for tourists and their western problems) Crazee!

Food Preparation

My husband would rather delete this picture, but it captures the moment 5 minutes before the incident. The master chef expertly prepares the chicken and adds a bit of peanut sauce to the sizzling chicken. He explains it though the bottle may or may not have been labeled, but I miss this important detail. Soon after, the fried rice, Terriyaki beef, stir fry vegetables and the peanut chicken skewers are served onto the plates.  AJ eats very well and finishes most of the food on his plate but doesn't really want to eat the chicken skewers. I urge him to give it a try and he obliges.  What bothers me is that my husband tastes the chicken and notices that it tastes like peanuts, but doesn't really clue in nor does he bother to say anything about it. I ate these too and I don't really notice the flavour to be honest.

Seriously, who serves Japanese food with peanuts? Perhaps with Thai or Vietnamese. This was rather unusual to me, though afterall we're in a foreign country and they may do things differently.

Immediate Reaction

Moments later, Maggie starts whining or crying and reports that her mouth is itchy from the food. AJ walks over to me as well, and is scratching like crazy at his cheeks with a hive-like rash rapidly forming and he tells me rather urgently, "Mommy I think I am allergic to the food".  I don't clue in right away, but calmly tell them to drink some water.  I give then a teaspoon of Benadryl and Maggie seems calmer, but AJ soon begins to cough uncontrollably. I calm him and try to give him a puff of Ventolin.  I ponder if this is an allergic reaction to the food, and we ask the servers if there is peanut oil or something in the food. Meanwhile, grandma suggests going to the bathroom to wash up, but I know that is not right. Everyone is calm and silent, but slowly I begin to realize that he is possibly in danger and I begin to wonder about the Epipen, and I realize that as the mother I really have to take charge!!  I don't know why I need to have confirmation about peanuts to actually do anything, so I continue to calmly talk to AJ about other things. Quickly, the server tells us that there was peanut sauce on the chicken and it totally confirms my worse fears, this is an anaphalactic reaction! AJ sees the needle and knows what I'm about to do and he's screaming no, I don't want the needle, but I have to remain calm and I place the auto-injector directly on his thigh, fortunately not the part that goes into the bone! The click is so loud, the spring recoil is so strong, but I remember that the effect was quite immediate.

Emergency Room in Paradise
I tell the server that we have to go to the hospital immediately, but she advises that we should go to the resort's emergency doctor's clinic first. I see that the situation has stabilized (good for the next 30  minutes and I have a second pen on hand) so my husband carries him away as I walk quickly to keep up.  I have to say that the doctor provided the highest level of care, and the clinic was fully equipped with everything they could possibly need to treat this emergency.  There was the steroid mask thing, as well as a steroid shot of some kind in the butt cheeks. By the time I returned from the room to gather the passport, and travel emergency documents AJ was already sitting up.  Maggie was allowed into the room, as she was really worried about her brother and really wanted to be with him.

My public service health plan coverage was very complete and the agent on the 1-800 line was very helpful. All the paperwork was finalized and emailed to the doctor even before I finished up on the phone and of course there were no charges out of pocket. AJ was released soon after that and she prescribed Benadryl and Ibiprofen for the next three full days, and asked us to return for a checkup the next morning.


On the second visit, I read a poster on the desk with a pricelist of all kinds of medical services. The initial consultation would've been $120 just for showing up at the clinic. I don't know the price of the treatment for my son, but I couldn't help but notice that the price for CPR was $750. Wow!

I'm very relieved that everything obviously turned out ok, but at the same time I realize that my hesitation or lack of immediate understanding of what was happening to my son could've been very dangerous for him. Before the trip, I actually read a short news article that alot of times, kids with deadly allergies are at the highest risk of danger when in the care of caregivers because some are more likely to be hesitant to use the Epipen. I don't want to imagine what would happen if I wasn't there at that moment and no one knew where was the Epipen in that giant diaper bag of mine.

No comments: