Sunday, August 11, 2013

Anaphylaxis: Who Gets It?

When I was a kid, I yearned to reach that the mark that, in my family, would make me a "big kid."  That mark was my grandmother's height.  Short with bent shoulders, a face lined with the years, and white hair that looked like cotton candy.  Grandma was the yardstick that my cousins and I used.  Every time we went for a visit, a crowd would gather 'round as Grandma took off her heels to stand next to me for a measurement.  I don't recall how old I was when I finally hit the mark, but I do remember feeling an odd sense of pride, as though I had somehow willed myself to reach the her height.  And every time I saw her after that, she would remind me of a time when she had to look down to see me rather than up.

Every family has its measuring stick.  In my father's family, that was Grandma.

For a long time, my younger son seemed to think that having food allergies was typical.  While he has a ton of food allergies related to his EoE, he has never personally experienced anaphylaxis.  For a long time, I tried to convince him that he never wanted to!  But to the little brother that always had to be quiet at the allergist's office;  the one that didn't get to ride in the ambulance;  the one that didn't get to carry an EpiPen, not having life-threatening food allergies was almost like a punishment.  As the only member of our family not to have a need for epinephrine, he felt left out.  He used to ask me all the time when he was going to get to carry his own EpiPen, as though it was some kind of measuring stick.
He thought that carrying an EpiPen was a goal to achieve. 

So I was a little surprised at his recent response to a commercial for EpiPen.

 A soothing voice says, "Avoid allergens first.  Carry EpiPen always."  
We know. (Said without emotion, as though he was really saying blah blah.)
"EpiPen auto-injectors are for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions, anaphylaxis, and for people who are at increased risk for these reactions."
We know...  (Mildly annoyed, as though wondering who wouldn't know this.)
"EpiPen is injected into the outer thigh..."   
We KNOW that already!

And in that moment, I was assured that he is well on his way to being a big kid.  He GETS it!  Epinephrine is used to treat anaphylaxis...a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical intervention.  Epinephrine is not a license to eat allergens, and it's not a replacement for seeking medical assistance.  He's got it!
No.  He doesn't need to carry an EpiPen.  Epinephrine is not a measuring stick.  It is a life-saving medical device that is used to treat anaphylaxis to keep someone alive so they can receive intervention from medical professionals.

Now when are we - the adults charged with keeping so many little lives going...  When are we going to get it?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear what your thoughts! Please consider including your name or a nickname. Thanks a bunch for the visit!