May 2, 2012

I Let My Guard Down

I let my guard down.  And that's easier said than done when you have food allergic children.  Normally, you find yourself wound up so tight it hurts. 

But boy, was I feeling confident.  Especially after our successful Disneyland trip, which included two sit-down meals at the theme park, a meal at a Vietnamese restaurant, and a take-out picnic courtesy of El Pollo Loco.  Yes, I was riding high.

So I only hesitated for a few fleeting moments when I went to grab a hotdog for each of my children at a school picnic over the weekend.  I had even sort of forgotten about the chicken tacos I had packed for my oldest, and most food allergic child.  Hey, everything looked harmless.  Hotdog--no bun, no beans, no condiments...just a plain old dog.  I didn't even ask the caterers about the dogs, and even if I did, it was likely the servers were unsure of their ingredients, I thought. 

Tristan was famished after exploring the adjacent creek for nearly two hours, where the kids were discovering and consequently throwing into the creek various stones, twigs, and other slimy and unusual specimens with much delight.  He gobbled half the hotdog down in about 30 seconds when he started complaining of the hotdog being "spicy."  I gave him some juice and a Benadryl immediately.  About a minute later, a stomach ache, to which I responded by leading him into some bushes to allow him to vomit.  Some of it was out of his system, a small victory, but then again so was the Benadryl I had just given him.  He still had a sore stomach, and his face and lips were showing signs of swelling.

Fortunately, another mom (who is also a doctor--my saving grace!), came over to help assess the reaction.  We gave him another dose of Benadryl, waited a few minutes, and as the swelling became more apparent around the cheeks and lips, the Epipen came out.

Now last summer, the first time I administered the Epipen, I was no doubt as nervous as Tristan was when I realized he was experiencing anaphylaxis.  This time, I was a seasoned pro, but it was Tristan who could anticipate the pain of the needle, with the memory of the first shot clear as day flooding back to him.  He was writhing and screaming, "No,!"  Without the comforts of home, this made for a tense situation.  With the help of the other mom holding down his leg, in went the needle in one swift motion, and ten seconds later, some relief that we had bought some time for us to get Tristan to the ER.

With the Doyle Drive closure, this was the worst weekend we could've picked to be across the Golden Gate Bridge.  But thankfully in the car, Tristan's swelling seemed to stabilize, and we got him to the ER, where they monitored his condition and his stats for about an hour and a half.  By then, he looked much better, and seemed to be feeling much better, requesting the DVD binder, ready to select one for his viewing pleasure.

I let my guard down.  And this is going to happen to the best of us.  The balance between constant worry and stress over everything that goes into our kids' mouths and the rare feeling of control over our children's food allergies is ever so delicate.  The most important things are to keep our wits about us, always be prepared with our Epipens, and handle each moment as it comes.  Because this is our life.  And even though we may face scary, uncertain, challenging, nervewracking moments, we must remember we are good moms with good instincts. 

We will face bumps in the road, but it's how you navigate over them that puts you back in the driver's seat, calm and ever vigilant, when the smooth road lies ahead.

It was quite a relief to see this smile again!


  1. Oh man. Glad he's feeling better.

  2. I can relate. It is an awful feeling.
    I'm so glad he made a full recovery!
    Please, for suspected ingestion of an allergen, go straight to the auto-injector! Benedryl might be fine for skin contact after you've washed the affected area but for ingestion, it's got to be epinephrine. It's just not worth the risk.

  3. Susan, I agree. More and more I am realizing that Tristan needs the Epipen injection for ingestion. It's been a journey to come to this understanding! Thanks for the support.

  4. OMGOSH, what an experience! I'm sorry you both had this scare. Thank goodness you were there and a doctor mum. Thank goodness you were able to get over the bridge fast enough. Hugs to you. You are a warrior mum.

  5. Wow, Sarah. I'm so glad that Tristan is okay. That must have been terrifying to try rushing to a hospital through an exceptionally trafficky day. I second Kepanie -- thank goodness you had meds and a doctor parent to assist. Accidents and slip-ups can happen anywhere but you were prepared and now you have more knowledge that will help you in the future.

  6. Wow, scary! Did you ever figure out what was in the hotdog that he is allergic to? How many EpiPens do you carry? When X was around 2, there was one time we had to give him 2 EpiPens. When in doubt, always give the EpiPen. Glad he is okay! Hugs, Sarah!

  7. Glad you were there and that Tristan is okay. It's true what you wrote. Resilience and perseverance is key when parenting a child with food allergies. You are an excellent example of that kind of mom. You are not alone. I let my guard down, too, sometimes. We're only human, but what's more important is that we remain prepared for the unexpected (which you always are) bc that reaction can sneak up on us even when we don't let our guard down. Thanks for sharing this story with us, Sarah.

  8. Cherie, I didn't find out but alas, it's on my long list of things to do. I am assuming it was some form of dairy. I do carry an Epi Twin Pack, but I need to refill the second since we used it. Last time in the ER, they gave me an Rx for another, but I guess they forgot this time and I forgot to remind them. So I'll have to call the allergist. Yes, important to always carry two!!! Michelle, it's all about carrying the Epipen! Thanks for the encouraging words!