anaphylactic reaction to peanuts

Okay. So yesterday afternoon we were in the backyard with our neighbors. James was up on the deck playing with our neighbor's baby toys and Ruby & I were down on the grass with Rachel and her baby boy. Our other neighbor, N, came over with her son, H. (N owns the cats, H is 2.) H was empty handed as he got a hug from his mama and walked up the deck stairs to play with the kids.

A few minutes later James sticks his face in the deck slats and holds up a crumpled red bag. These are good, mom, he says. As soon as I saw Ritz I just knew it would be the peanut butter variety. I told him to come down immediately and brought him around to the front of the house to scold him. But they were good, is what he said, I really liked them, mom. We went back to get Ruby and everyone was asking if he was okay. I was wondering myself because his last test scores were so low for peanut. I thought maybe nothing would happen. Rachel was going to get him some juice and James went over to the stairs to wait. When he turned around a minute later he had a funny look on his face. Do you feel funny?, I asked him. Yes, he said, and started coughing.

I got up to get him and ran around to the front of the house, holding him & Ruby. (still not sure how I ran with both of them...hahaha) It's maybe 40 feet (?) from the back to the front and by the time we got to the door it sounded like he was choking and gasping for breath. I yelled for Patrick and he was upstairs so fast I couldn't believe it (with his back & all). He grabbed James and I got the epipen from the counter.

We've had the epipens for 3 years this summer and have never used them. He has had mild reactions to accidental dairy ingestion (hives) and contact reactions to dairy but has never reacted/been in contact with peanut before. (except for having a peanut shell in his mouth at my dad's once with no reaction whatsoever!) I had just been over the epi procedure with our new babysitter that morning, telling her to only give him snacks I've given her for him and she will probably never need it. But, if she did, this is what she had to do. Do not hesitate, I told her. Administering the epi can never hurt him, not administering it could kill him.

I always feel dramatic when I tell people that but it's what I've read & been told so many times. As this was happening yesterday, it all almost felt familiar to me. This is just like they described it, I kept thinking. Rapid progression of symptoms, difficulty breathing, vomiting...every minute counts, I kept thinking, give it to him NOW.

With Patrick holding James, I pulled the cap off the end and jabbed in his thigh. I used some force so it was sure to get in the first time. Poor kid, that is one long needle. I counted to ten, slowly, before taking it out with Patrick saying, Are you done, mama?, the whole soothe James. I grabbed the phone and called 911, already wondering where our 2nd pen was in case the first dose didn't help him.

While I was on the phone with emergency and rifling through my dozen bags (I think I'll buy another bag...great idea, Stephanie!) , Patrick walked over to the sink with James. He threw up all over Patrick and suddenly seemed to be breathing easy. The 911 operator told me to calm down, I was breathing too fast. I told her breathing this way, deeply, was making me calm. :) She was right, though, because I slowed down and started breathing slower and did feel better. I kept wanting to cry when I looked over at them so I wasn't sure what to do with myself. While this was happening Ruby was on the floor polishing off a stick of sidewalk chalk. Okay, not really, but she had a good mouth full. I was like, oh no're not going to choke on top of all of this.

This all happened in a matter of 2-3 minutes. Officer Bill arrived, the same one who came when I locked Ruby in the house last winter (Hi Bill! It's me again! The super awesome parent!), and the 911 lady let me go. By this time James was shaken but seemed fine. (Mom, I don't want you to bang that thing in my leg again, he said.) Our volunteer ambulance arrived a couple minutes after Officer Bill along with another squad. The ambulance workers (one of whom was a 70 year old joke. How sweet to be a volunteer ambulance worker. God bless them.) were great and took James' vitals and let him come out and see the ambulance. They said we could be transported or call our dr. and drive him ourselves to be checked. Sometimes allergic reactions come back when the epinephrine wears off, after about 20 minutes or so. I knew I had our other pen and said a quick prayer asking for help finding it. I suddenly thought of the other car, that Patrick had had James in over the weekend. There it was. I'll drive him, I said.

They left and I called our Urgent Care. I went out in the garage to talk with the nurse and immediately started sobbing when she got on the line. It was so quiet in there and she sounded so concerned and it all just came down on me. This was the scariest thing I've ever been through. She said to bring him in and she would call in a new prescription for epipens for me.

The drama is over at this point. I grabbed some stuff and James & I hustled towards Madison. I kept breaking down on the drive whenever I'd look at him in the mirror. He fell asleep after a few minutes and I pulled over to make sure he was still breathing. I made a couple calls (sorry, Mom), talking to my Dad and Kate. That helped.

The ER was fine. Not much to say about it. Anaphylactic reactions are pretty high on the triage level so we were seen relatively quickly. They just said to have him sleep with us, watch for any new reactions, and give him Benadryl for the next 24 hours.

While we were gone N came over two times. I had been thinking, on the drive, that I must not have told her about his allergy. I always tell everyone and I couldn't believe I hadn't told her. I remembered later, when I had calmed down, that I did tell her, but it was last summer - when we first met. We had spent most of the summer avoiding them, to be honest, because they are very nice people but they would come over and NEVER leave. That seems to have let up this year...I think it was only because their kids were younger and they wanted to stick right by them. Anyways, she feels awful. She told Patrick she didn't think it would be a problem because H never shares. hahaha. H never shares, but he did this time, and James never eats things without asking, but he did this time. (Actually James ate a piece of bread out of an open bag at the grocery store recently. nice. He got in trouble but it obviously didn't stick with him.)

One thing I am thankful for, in all of this, is that it scared the crap out of James. I pray that he will not do it again. But I also know now how well the epi works, and that I can do it again, if I have to.

What a novel! And no cute pictures! I do have some but Patrick is upstairs with Ruby so I want to go relieve him. I took the kids to the zoo this afternoon because I just needed to get out. I feel so I've been through the wringer, as they say. Can't wait to go to bed tonight. Thank you all for the sweet words, thoughts and prayers.

*Boring title for search purposes...this post might help someone else, you never know. Reading all that I have certainly helped me.


  1. This is just so scary. Mama, even though it was scary for you, you did everything right! So many hugs. And we won't be bringing peanuts when we visit this summer :)

  2. thank you. (for the hugs and not bringing peanuts) :)

  3. Oh, how scary for you all! I'm so glad he is o.k.


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