I apologize for not posting over the last several weeks. My computer crashed and my new laptop is finally up and running. My husband, two boys and myself were on vacation in Florida with family two weeks ago for spring break. Two days before our last day of vacation the boys and I were in the grocery store reviewing the boxes of the many different flavors of Pop Tarts. There are a few flavors of Pop Tarts that have been safe in the past for my boys multiple food allergies which are: Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Strawberry, Cherry, and I believe Blueberry. My boys were excited to try a new flavor and since we were on vacation I was a bit more laid back with them eating a healthy breakfast in the morning. My youngest handed me a box of Pop Tarts and I read the ingredients and noticed that they contained “milk, eggs, and wheat.” I then told him the allergens that were in the box and to look for a different “New” flavor. My oldest then handed me the Cinnamon Swirl box and after reading through the ingredients about 3 times slowly I told him we were safe and they only contained “Wheat” which is not an allergen for my boys. After that my youngest son chose his box of Pop Tarts, and looking back in hindsight, I believed it was a flavor we had purchased before and I failed to “re-read” the box which was unusual for me but the boys were getting hyper and we needed to get to the check out aisle and complete our shopping trip.
Moving forward, very early the next morning my husband and I were still in bed and both of our boys were on their Ipads just outside of our bedroom on the sofa lounger. They each knew where the kitchen cupboard was that contained all of their “safe” foods and namely their new and exciting Pop Tart flavors. We told them they could each grab a Pop Tart. A few minutes later our youngest son told us his tummy hurt after only eating one third of the Pop Tart. It was at that moment my husband ran into the kitchen, grabbed the S’Mores Pop Tart box and re-read the label to then shockingly discover they contained not only one but two MAJOR allergens of our boys- “Milk and Eggs!” I was completely dismayed and shocked this box made it into the grocery cart without me even noticing it! I had known from past label reading that the S’Mores Pop Tarts contained the lethal allergens for my boys. Then, our youngest son yelled “Mom! Dad!” We both rushed upstairs and he had vomited all over the couch and was feeling very lethargic. At that point we knew something serious was about to ensue and we both kept our calm and comforted our son. We gave him 2 Benadryl children’s chewable tablets and I grabbed our Emergency Action Plan to review. I had read it a thousand times before but this time I read it very slowly as if in slow motion paying attention to every single detail.
A few minutes later our little guy ran to the bathroom and had violent diarrhea. At that point we knew we were headed to the ER because our little guy was not only anaphylactic but an asthmatic which adds another element of fear to this whole process. About a year earlier he accidentally ingested a Tara chip with milk in it and he described words that made us think his throat was starting to close up. That said, we knew the Auvi-Q injection was going to be needed.
We loaded into the car and I drove our youngest to the ER which was about 4 miles away in South Naples thankfully. My husband stayed back with our oldest son. On the way to the hospital I kept talking and reassuring my little 5 year old that everything was going to be okay. In the heat of the moment I was surprised that I was able to keep my composure and do what was necessary- get us to the hospital safely. I kept telling my son that he was such a brave big boy and I would have to give him the Epi-Pen injection when we parked the car. I reassured him that he didn’t cry this year when he got his flu shot and he Epi-Pen would feel about the same.
I parked the car in the lot adjacent to the ER entrance doors and quickly got out of the driver’s side door. I walked around to my son’s door, opened the door and told him it was time for the Epi-Pen (Auvi-Q). I pulled the injector out of it’s housing sleeve like I had done a thousand times before with the trainer and then told my son to squeeze my hand really hard while I injected the Auvi-Q into his right quadricep. Then we listened to to injector count down from 10 to 1 and then it said “Injection complete.”
I then whisked my brave son up into my arms as I ran into the Emergency Room. My son then said, “Mom that didn’t even hurt.” I held back the tears trying to wear my brave hat as well. Thankfully the waiting room wasn’t very busy and we were admitted back into the initial screening room right away where they took my son’s blood pressure, listened to his breathing and took his weight. I calmly reiterated to the nurse what had happened and that I was fearful that his breathing may continue to decline like it had during the previous allergic food reaction a year ago.
Long story short, when the ER doc finally came back to take our son’s vitals he reassured me that I did the right thing by giving him the Epi-Pen. He said that “it was the right move given our son’s past food reaction, asthma and being on vacation in an unfamiliar town.” The doctor said that he thankfully was NOT going into anaphylactic shock. Due to new standards across the country for ER patients admitted after being injected with Epinephrine, they would have to monitor him for 6 hours post-shot. This is because in the past patients have been released too prematurely and have had more serious allergic reactions landing them back in the Emergency Room.
Our son received a pretty large liquid dose of children’s prednisone to continue to help his body fight off the reaction and we began counting down the hours in the ER.
It was a LONG and stressful day in the ER but bottom line is that we took the necessary precautions to get our son to the ER to receive further treatment.
I beat myself up for days post-reaction thinking what I could have done differently to avoid such an allergic reaction? I kept asking myself, “If I can make a mistake like this and I re-read all labels multiple times and I’m extremely precautious and diligent then it can happen to anyone.” I finally came to terms with the fact that this was a freak accident and that accidents will happen with our children in the future with regards to allergen exposure. I kept reassuring myself that both my husband and I acted quickly in the heat of the moment and followed our son’s emergency action plan which I believe ultimately kept the reaction from worsening which could have resulted in a lethal ending.
This was a very emotional situation for both of our sons, my husband and myself. The lesson learned here is that we can move forth with positivity knowing that we have all trained ourselves how to act promptly during an emergency allergen exposure situation. Please ALWAYS carry your Epi-Pen auto injectors.