Scary Scary Moment Over the Weekend: Anaphylactic Shock

My wife and I took our kids to Philly to see my mom and her boyfriend. While there, we went out for a walk in a park and a hot dog cookout. After running around at a playground, my daughter, son, mom and I stopped by a fishing peer. On the way back to the fire pit for hot dogs, my daughter was lagging behind. With her heart condition, this happens sometimes when she has been running a lot. When she said she was tired and having a little trouble breathing, I didn’t think much of it. I just picked her up and put her on my shoulders for the 1/4 mile back. When we got back, she downed two Capri suns, ate a couple gold fish, and took a bite of liquorice which she hated and spit out. Then she kept crying and pointing to her mouth. We thought she must have bit herself or something trying to get the taste out of her mouth with chips. We kept asking her to use her words because we couldn’t help if she couldn’t tell us what was going on. After a couple minutes of her crying and not talking to us, we said it’s really not like her to keep crying. My wife noticed a slight swelling of her lips which I couldn’t see for a couple minutes after she first pointed it out. She kept sticking her tongue out. Then we weren’t sure if she could say what was wrong. I asked her to say “Mommy,” and she couldn’t. She also couldn’t swallow the allergy medicine. At this point we knew we had trouble and headed back to the car to go to an urgent care center. When we got back to the car and I was strapping her in, she started complaining. I asked her if she was having trouble breathing, and she nodded yes.
Screw driving to an urgent care center…for which we didn’t know the location and were about to call our insurance. It was time for 9-1-1. This was when things got a little scary. The 9-1-1 operator first asked, “Where are you?” Our answer was the name of the park only to be told “That park covers 40 miles. Where are you in the park?” Not surprisingly “the parking lot” was an inadequate response. So I started running to other visitors, and I saw a pay phone (woohoo they’re not all gone in the age of the cell phone). I thought we were saved since all land lines are supposed to be tied into the 9-1-1 network so they can tell from where a call originates. It’s on my phone bill every month. It turns out in PA, they’re not all tied into the network. Doh! At this point we have 9-1-1 on two different lines, and I have my daughter in my arms going from person to person till we found somebody who could give us the name of the particular point. Throughout, I’m trying to walk quickly to the next person, not breath fast as I want my daughter copying my breathing to the extent possible with her chin up, and keep calm so she doesn’t freak out.

When the ambulance got there, my daughter’s tongue had swollen to the point where we had to have her head tilted up for her to breath at all. It stuck out of her mouth and puffed out her cheeks and neck. When the ambulance came and they gave her an epi shot, things got better quickly. They took her to the hospital where they held her for 90 minutes and gave her a steroid before discharge. Of course on the way back mom’s she couldn’t swallow again. I can’t tell you how hard it was to fight panic and turn around to go back to the hospital. Thankfully in about another 20 minutes the steroids kicked in.

From that point on, she’s been a 5 year old on steroids with all the emotional swings associated with steroids adding to her norm. Fun times…At least the steroids are only for 3 more days after today. Much as I look forward to some time around 10 days hence when the steroids are no longer making her moods flow like mercury dropped on a ship’s table, I’ll take them over the alternative. Odd to be thankful for the crankies, but I am.  When asked about her day, she described it as an eventful day where she got sick, rode in an ambulance, and got to control the channel and the volume of the TV at the hospital. 

From now on, I’ll have an epi pen with me while out with her. There is no guarantee the next attack will progress as slowly as this one did. If anything, the odds are against it.

On to the subject of perception, I was trying to convince a few people on a Redskin board I have been a member of for 10 years about the rewards of adopting. One of the posts back took me off guard referring to me as a “hipster philanthropist.” I was, at first, a little put off because I don’t feel like the choice to adopt is heroic. It felt like he was saying it as a put off to excuse everyone else’s not choosing to adopt (never mind that he has adopted 2 kids himself). However when I took a minute to think about it, I was actually a little touched. “Philanthropist” is a rather amazing title. How cool is it to be thought of as a philanthropist? Our country has had a lot of schools founded by philanthropists, and currently the two who come to mind as modern day philanthropists are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I think my life could have worse comparisons than the good deeds they are accomplishing with their money and time. Yes, my life’s work probably doesn’t measure up with theirs, but there are times where it’s honor to share the same adjectives even if only to be thought as the lesser end of the comparison. There are days where I think I have little more to offer, and many days where I don’t feel I’ve done enough. Whether it was meant as a compliment or not, I’ve chosen to take it as such.


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