I’m not exactly proud to share this story, but if it helps someone else, then I guess it’s a good thing. It all started with two cups of hot chocolate, one made with cows milk, the other with rice milk.
In our house we have an eat-in kitchen with a round table and a dining room with a rectangular table (I’m telling you this to attempt to explain where it went wrong). We always eat our meals in the dining room. We also always sit in the same seats and our child with allergies (who was three at the time) has his own cups and plates. This allows him to know that his foods are always served in the same spot on the same dishes.
It was the week of Christmas and I was expecting approximately 40 people at my house to celebrate Christmas Eve. I had food everywhere and my brain was in thirty different places attempting to make sure I had everything prepared. My two boys were sitting at the kitchen table drinking hot chocolate. We had been hatching one of those grow chicks in a cup of water on the counter for the day and they both got up to come take a look. This is where I went wrong. You see, I was so used to sitting in the dining room where we had our own seats and our youngest son had his own cups and plates I had become too relaxed.
As I was changing the water on the grow chick both boys went back to the round table to sit down. Our youngest took his first sip of hot chocolate and immediately said “yuck”. I looked up and realized the boys were sitting in the wrong chairs. Our allergy child had taken a sip of the hot chocolate made with cow’s milk. He had his own plates, cups, bowls, forks, spoons, and knives. I never purchased a mug for him that was obviously different from the others. Between using similar mugs and sitting at the round table it was too easy for this mistake to be made.
The swelling started, along with the hives, and the drooling, the repetitive coughing, the inability to swallow, the difficulty breathing and then came the EpiPen® *sigh* At the time we were using the old design EpiPen®.
|EpiPen® Old Design
Notice the grey and black ends
My son was showing signs of anaphylaxis (the signs I had read about and understood) but when it came down to administering epinephrine my brain still thought “Yeah, but does he really need it? Is this what they mean by difficulty breathing? Maybe he’ll be okay.” That is when doubt and fear kicked in (which can be just as deadly as his allergen). I didn’t want to have to use a needle. I didn’t want to cause him more pain. But it was the only thing that could save him.
I pushed the thoughts of fear and doubt aside and announced “I’m going do it!”. My husband held our son as I took off the cap of the EpiPen® to activate it. I jabbed it towards his thigh. Something strange happened. He wasn’t screaming and I was in pain. Yup, I accidentally injected the EpiPen® into my thumb. I had held the EpiPen® upside down and it was now lodged into my thumb between the knuckle.
With the first EpiPen® dangling from my thumb, we now had to get the second EpiPen®. I held our son and my husband used our second EpiPen®. After waiting the ten seconds, holding the EpiPen® to his thigh, my husband was then able to pull the other EpiPen® from my thumb. The needle was curled at the end like a fish hook and my thumb had turned completely white.
By the time the EMT’s arrived at the house our son was no longer drooling and he was able to breathe. He was calm and didn’t mind the EMT’s checking him out. When I told them I had accidentally jabbed myself, they laughed and then quickly became straight faced. Apparently this happens frequently which is why, I assume, they redesigned the EpiPen®.
Think of using a normal ink pen. Take off the cap and that’s where the pen is that you write with, right? Well, an EpiPen® is the exact OPPOSITE! Which of course I think is absolutely stupid! With an EpiPen® you take the cap off and the needle comes out the OTHER end. Painful lessons learned…again.
|EpiPen® New Design
Notice the bright orange end where needle comes out
The EpiPen® saved my son. We administered it in time and the adrenaline stopped the effects of anaphylaxis. By the end of the night, my son was back to normal. Regardless of the mistakes that were made that night, it ended with success and we all learned very valuable lessons.
Looking back on it now, I’m glad it happened. It forced my husband to administer the EpiPen® for his first time. We don’t eat allergic foods at the round table. A round table makes it more difficult for a child to determine which seat is his. We eat at assigned seats. Our son has his own mug that he is able to recognize as his. It is now embedded in my brain (and thumb) to hold the EpiPen® the right way and WE ALWAYS CARRY TWO EpiPens®!!!
I also can’t rely on these things to keep my son safe. I have to remain 100% aware. The rules I put in place are only supposed to help avoid mistakes. I can’t make my house completely allergy free. That won’t teach him anything. The world is full of dangers and it’s my responsibility as his parent to teach him how to keep himself safe. At times I do wish I could put my boys in a bubble and protect them from the world. I know that won’t be teaching them anything though. I have to just do my best, teach them all that I can, and learn from my mistakes.
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EpiPen® (epinphrine) Auto-Injector Indications and Important Safety Information
EpiPen® (epinephrine) 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine) 0.15 mg Auto-Injectors are for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) caused by allergens, exercise, or unknown triggers; and for people who are at increased risk for these reactions. EpiPen and EpiPen Jr are intended for immediate self administration as emergency supportive therapy only. Seek immediate emergency medical treatment after use.
Important Safety Information
EpiPen Auto-Injectors contain a single dose of epinephrine, which you inject into your outer thigh. DO NOT INJECT INTO YOUR VEIN, BUTTOCK, FINGERS, TOES, HANDS OR FEET. In case of accidental injection, please seek immediate medical treatment. Epinephrine should be used with caution if you have heart disease or are taking certain medicines that can cause heart-related (cardiac) symptoms.
Tell your doctor if you have certain medical conditions such as asthma, depression, thyroid disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, have any other medical conditions, are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Be sure to also tell your doctor all the medicines you take, especially medicines for asthma. If you have certain medical conditions, or take certain medicines, your condition may get worse or you may have longer lasting side effects when you take the EpiPen or EpiPen Jr Auto Injector.
The most common side effects may include increase in heart rate, stronger or irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, paleness, dizziness, weakness or shakiness, headache, apprehension, nervousness or anxiety. These side effects usually go away quickly, especially if you rest.
Talk to your healthcare professional to see if EpiPen or EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector is right for you.