This post is for our family, friends, future baby sitters and future classroom teachers. If you are ever providing direct care for our son, this post is written to provide information that is important for you to know and to give Andrew and I some peace of mind.
The truth is that our son’s peanut and tree nut allergy is manageable. As long as he does not eat a dangerous food, then he is completely safe and he is just like other sweet, curious, silly, loving and smart little boys out in the world. If he is in your care one day, it means that we trust you (a lot). It’s also a guarantee that before we’ve left him with you, we’ve talked about his allergy, given you an allergy action plan and sent him with food that is safe for him to eat.
Please stick to his lunch box: Keep it simple, Keep him safe.
So what happens if he eats an unsafe food? Read on and i’ll tell you all about it. Chances are that you may never need to use the Cub’s Epipen, but if our Cub eats an unsafe food he can go into Anaphylactic Shock.
What in the world is Anaphylactic Shock? Anaphylaxis happens when a person’s whole body responds to an allergen instead of just in one localized spot. I like to explain it by thinking about poison ivy. If you are allergic to poison ivy and you touch it, it will give you a rash in that spot (localized) and poison ivy is spread via touching a new spot. Anaphylaxis is not a reaction that happens in one spot, it’s different. Anaphylaxis is a system wide response to an allergen. It is when the allergen exposure affects the entire body inside and out.
Anaphylaxis can begin as hives, a fullness in mouth or throat, swelling of face or nasal congestion and it can progress to increased tightness and/or inflammation of the throat and chest, wheezing, vomiting, inability to breath, loss of oxygen or death.
The Epipen is a syringe of medication called Epinephrine. It is the only medication that can stop anaphylactic shock. It is given in the thigh via intramuscular injection for symptoms that move beyond a localized reaction on the skin, such as progressive skin involvement (increasing hives and/or swelling spreading over the entire body), throat swelling/inflammation, choking, any respiratory and/or gastrointestinal symptoms and loss of conscious.
Epinephrine is made to be a chemical replica of the hormone that our adrenal glands produce in response to stress. You know that “Fight or Flight” response that you’ve heard about or felt? That’s it. It gives some extra fight for those having an allergic reaction.
Epinephrine does many things to help the body, but the most important thing that I want you to know is that it can reverse the respiratory symptoms and be life saving. It is important to keep in mind that if a person is in respiratory failure the epinephrine needs to be administered within seconds. So keep it close. It needs to follow our Cub where ever he goes.
Some facts that surprised me about the Epipen are that epinephrine will only last for 20 minutes once it’s given – that’s why it comes in a two pack. So if needed, it’s important to be prepared to give a second one or have EMS give the second one on the way to the hospital. Additionally, the needles can snap when they are not administered firmly. So please be calm, steady, firm and deliver that medicine!
The photo above is of the Cub’s Epipens. The one next to the the two-pack is the Epipen Trainer. It does not have a needle in it. It allows moms like myself to train the Cub’s caregivers. If you want to check it out and learn how to use it the next time you see me, just let me know. I’m your girl. Educated and compassionate peer parents rock – please be one!
For everyone else, here is a link to a VERY short video that shows you how to administer the Epipen. Check it out and demystify the Epipen for yourself, your family and your friends. Chances are there is a child in your child’s class with an allergy requiring one of these to be on standby or a child that will share a classroom with him or her in the future. The Epipen became a lot less scary to us once we understood how to use it and what it does.
Our Epipen pack follows us silently where ever we go. Parks, play dates, restaurants, gym, museums, airplanes, barbecues, beaches…even church…they are there. Just in case.
I am grateful that there is an Epipen in the world that, if needed, can help me save my son’s life. I know how deeply it hurts to lose someone you love. That is not a pain that is unimaginable to me. So my son’s allergy does scare me.
I won’t lie. I worry.
But I don’t let that stop us from enjoying all of our adventures.
So if you are reading this post as a future caregiver of our beautiful son, we want to feel confident that you will keep him safe and let him play and learn. And that if needed, you can and will — without hesitation — slam the Epipen into his thigh and hold it there for the count of 10. Then call 911. If you can’t do that, be honest and tell us. We will appreciate that very much.
This post is important to me. It’s the worst case scenario, but the best part of all of this scary information is that anaphylaxis is 100% avoidable for our son. So please: keep it simple, keep him safe.
Thanks so much for reading. Next up, some of our less serious and more fun adventures!
Chew Chew Mama
For more information on peanut allergies and or anaphylaxis, please feel free to check out some of my favorite sources that i’ve linked for your convenience below:
My favorite of all Peanut Allergy Books, and being an over protective Chew Chew Mama I have read them all, is by Michael Young, M.D. Click on the photo of his book below to check it out and purchase a copy for yourself or for your home, your school or your classroom.
And last but certainly not least, AllergyHome.org. This is a website that was created by two medical doctors, John Lee & Michael Pistiner. They have created a thorough and comprehensive list of resources for all types of allergies. My favorite section is the peanut section. I am fond of the long list of foods to avoid that contain peanuts that they have posted. We’ve found some additional hidden places along our adventures, but they provide a great list for those starting out and it is for free.