A few nights ago we decided to pick-up some Popeye’s for dinner because we couldn’t decide on what to cook. I also had an exhausting day and picking up food sounded like a good idea. We threw around the idea of ordering pizza and getting Chinese delivered, but ultimately we decided to pick up something quick. Popeye’s. The girls and I had shrimp and biscuits, Rick had the chicken. Lennon was at the table as usual in his highchair while we ate. He had his little snack puffs and his water cup and he was good, but lately he had been showing an increasing interest in what we were eating. So tonight was the night we would give him a taste of our food. He had never had table food up until this point. He is 9 months but part of the reason for me holding out on giving him food was not just because he’s breastfed, but because I’m also a paranoid mom. I have always had a paranoia about food allergies.
It was the same way with our girls. We didn’t start introducing them to table food until around 10 months or so. But we had never had any issues with our girls and food allergies, so when Rick brought up the idea of giving him a little bit of his biscuit, rather than being that paranoid mom,I let him. Lennon had his first taste of table food and he liked it. He seemed to be eating it ok, so when he finished the little bit he had, I gave him a little more. This time from my plate.
Everything was fine.
I took him out of his highchair, cleaned him up and put him in his walker.
About 10-15 minutes had passed when all of a sudden I noticed welts and hives start to appear all over his face and neck. I ran over to him and picked him up and noticed that it was also on his shoulders and chest. We panicked. We didn’t even have any infant’s Benadryl on hand. We had no clue what to do or what to look for so we called EMS. Because of his age they wanted to take him in immediately.
The suspected culprit? Shrimp.
I learned that night that shellfish allergic reactions look like they are getting better but can take a turn for the worst. The paramedics wanted to take him in just in case he needed an epinephrine shot on the way. Rick stayed home with the girls and I went with Lennon by ambulance to the Children’s Emergency.
By the time we got into the ER to see a doctor his hives had gone down a bit but his lips had started to swell and he started wheezing. He was hooked up to an oxygen monitor and his stats started to decline. His oxygen level was at 88 when it should have been over 94.
I was scared.
I was panicked.
I blamed myself.
I had been that paranoid mom for months for THIS reason. WHY WHY did I not listen to my gut like I had before. If I had, this nightmare wouldn’t be happening right now.
He was given an epinephrine shot, a steroid and he was put on oxygen. He was also started on albuterol treatments due to the wheezing. Even with the albuterol treatments and oxygen his stats were still hanging around 92-93. The doctor said they were admitting us because he was inconsistent in his breathing and because he was wheezing.
He was “de-statting” as they called it.
As if all this wasn’t scary enough, he started having side effects from the epi shot. He was nauseated and gagging, his heart was racing and he was sweating. I felt hopeless. I think I called the nurse in every 10 minutes to ask them “is this normal?”
By this time it was 1030PM or so. We had arrived at the ER about 7:30PM and he had been awake the entire time. All I wanted to do at that time was try to get him to sleep so he could rest. He fell asleep with his oxygen mask on and things seemed a bit more calm. His oxygen level was still lower than what it should have been but he was asleep and he was getting enough while he slept.
At this point it was time for us to move up to our room for the night. As soon as they disconnected him from his oxygen to connect him to the machine in our new room his numbers immediately went back down to an 88. I was a nervous wreck and didn’t sleep at all. If I wasn’t staring into his big industrial looking crib watching him breathe with his oxygen mask taped to his little face then I was staring at his monitor – calling the nurses station each time I heard that beeping noise that something was low or wrong or disconnected. At one point the nurse walked in and tried to calm my fears. She ensured me that they were watching his monitors and would be immediately alerted if something on the monitor needed attention. She said I had what they called “monitor anxiety” and that I needed to try to get some rest while he was sleeping.
The nurses came in frequently to check his vitals. After one visit from a nurse I noticed that his oxygen tube had disconnected from the machine. It was disconnected but his oxygen level had stayed the same – still around a 92 so this meant progress! The nurses decided at this point that we would leave him off his oxygen to see how he did through the night. That was the turning point for us because his numbers never dropped again. He slept through the night and his oxygen level kept climbing and at one point reached 99-100! The nurse continued to check in and said he seemed like he was back at “baseline”. I was hoping and praying that we were out of the woods.
The next day a Pediatrician came in to check in on him. She was discharging us! She also talked to us about allergy testing and sent us home with a prescription for an epi pen that we would have to carry with us at all times. So now we have one at home and one in my purse at ALL TIMES.
This was one of the scariest moments of my life. Feeling so helpless with my child is one of the worst things I have ever felt as a mother.
His discharge paperwork read – “Anaphylaxis” which means “A severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction”. Those are some pretty terrifying words to read.
Our lives will be a little different now going forward. For one, we now have an epi pen we will carry around with us everywhere he goes. We have to be extra careful about what we eat, where we eat and what we keep in our house. We have doctor visits coming up, tests to do and changes to make in our home and diet.
But he is home. He is well. He is happy. And for that – we are grateful.