A few months ago I was out shopping with my son and granddaughter. We were casually looking for items on our shopping list when my son blurted out, “She almost died here, right over there,” talking to my granddaughter as he pointed towards the couches I sat at months ago. Then I heard her voice quiver, “Did you grandma? Did you almost die here once?” My son went on to explain that I had an allergic reaction and at the time I was having trouble breathing. She immediately looked frighten, she didn’t know what to say or how to react, so I hugged her, reassured her I was ok. I explained to her that although I had once had an allergic reaction there, I was ok and there was nothing to worry about now.
It was tough to see the fear in her expression, it sadden me deeply. As I went on shopping with my two little loves, I asked myself over and over again, “how did he feel that day?” “how has it affected my baby boy?” “how will it affect my grand baby and other family members?”
With so many questions and concerns rushing through my brain, I pushed it out of my mind so I could finish the task at hand and care for my little loves while doing so. As we collected more items in the shopping cart we pushed around the store, we all forgot about the time she almost died here…
Since that day, I wonder…Do they worry just as much as I do? Do they wonder if and when I will have another episode? How bad will it be next time? It isn’t easy being the one living with allergies. Wondering when your next reaction will come… I have always known that it affects my family, but I wasn’t sure just how deep it was rooted.
How do I keep from freaking out every time I eat out?
For now, I can only eat at restaurants that do not serve shell-fish. I do not cook or handle any shell-fish at home either. And just to make sure there is no contamination in the foods I cook and eat we no longer purchase or eat seafood at home. It isn’t easy. The variety of foods we eat have dwindled. I have also had to remove bottled sauces from our grocery list and pantry. Labels on foods available to purchase aren’t always crystal clear on what they contain. Many contain the words, “flavoring, additives”, with little to no clarity of what those are exactly.
How do I keep my cool in the middle of an allergic reaction?
Over the years, with the help of my doctors, I have come up with a plan. The scariest thing about my reactions is that they are NOT typical of the general anaphylaxis, so I have to remember at all times that as soon as I feel a bit of itchiness and I begin clearing my throat, I have to immediately go to my plan. I take the steps given to me by my doctors. Having this plan keeps me calm. I know exactly what I need to do and when.
Have a Plan. Always carry your medications and Epi Pens.
In my purse you will find a clear bag, this bag contains Benadryl, an Albuterol inhaler, and a set of two auto-injector Epi Pens. I am to use them in the order I listed previously, as soon as I am aware I am having a reaction. I also let those around me know what is happening. They usually cannot see any symptoms. I have to remind them to be ready to call 911 and know the address of where we are.
What steps should you take if you or someone you know has allergies to foods or other triggers?
Have a plan. With the help of your doctor and your allergy specialist you can also create a plan that works for you or your child. Teach your family members and friends about your plan and how to deliver an Epi Pen injection. Teach them to call 911, immediately after an Epi pen had been administered. Remind them they will need to know the address and give specific instructions or directions to the 911 operator, so they can find you quickly. If the address is not known ask someone for help. If for instance, you are at a store or out running errands, be as specific as possible, give department names or instructions on where you can be located, “in furniture department, sitting on brown couch closest to electronics department”.
Why is it important to talk about allergies?
There are a variety of reasons I feel passionate about talking about allergies and reactions. For me, my reactions are not typical. Sometimes my husband or son will notice my face is flushed or I am clearing my throat, even before I have noticed. This is because they know how my reactions start and unfold. Other family members have yet to know what it is like. I do not have the classic anaphylaxis signs, for example, I do not have swelling on my lips, face or ears. I do not always immediately have trouble breathing. Instead I may sometimes develop a few hives on my face, specifically around my chin and mouth area. My face may flush. I may start clearing my throat as my throat slowly starts to swell. Otherwise it is difficult to see any reactions occurring. So for me and my family comfort and peace comes in the form of knowing exactly what to do when we notice a reaction beginning. We have a plan we can follow and if all else fails, we can use my Epi Pen and call 911.
On my next post I will share with you the details of the day she almost died here…
Please leave comments below. Tell me about your plan, tips you would like to share that have helped with dealing with allergic reactions. Also, let me know how or if this blog post has helped you in any way. Is there anything I left out that you may want to know more about. Thanks for stopping by! Wishing you a wonderful day!