8.06.2013

Anaphylactic Shock: The Episode

This is the second part of my three part story. You can read part one HERE.

It was Monday night and darling daughter and I had just arrived to Texas two days ago. We were beginning our three week vacation with Grandma (her Grandma, my Mom) and I was determined not to be that pesky person from Hawai'i that was a difficult eater. My dairy free lifestyle choice was already impacting others by not having pizza night etc. No one was complaining...I just didn't want to be a burden.

We had just finished dinner and my Mom offered me some cake that her friend sent over. It was an orange cake and I figured I wouldn't say no again. I had already turned down a dessert the previous day. I thought the cake might have a touch of butter...or  not...and knew that the affect of eating some dairy after being dairy free could be more intense. I remembered the stuffy nose after the cereal with dry milk on it I accidentally ate and the bloaty tummy after the skim milk in what I thought was a soymilk chai tea latte. I assumed if the cake did have butter a very small amount wouldn't impact me too much. Little did I know that night would recement my belief to never assume anything.

I had just finished the cake and placed my fork down when I felt funny. I immediately said, I think there was something in that cake. I feel funny. Darling daughter was asking me to play cards and I was asking her to give me a minute. I just felt weird. Within moments I felt heat rushing up my arms and told my Mom. Next I was telling her I feel lightheaded and then I told her my heart is beating fast. I don't know exactly when but it was sometime around the lightheadedness and fast heartbeat that she grabbed two Benadryl and gave them to me to take. I did.

I felt panicky and was trying to calm myself down. I thought maybe I was having a panic attack due to the odd sensation and willed my mind to rest telling myself it was all okay. I remembered the rush after the skim milk and figured this too would pass. But it didn't. My heart was beating and my mind was fuzzy.

My Mom moved me to a recliner to lie back. I thought that would calm me but then I started shaking. It had started with my hands while at the table but now my arms and legs were shaking as well. I was still telling myself to calm down. I was waiting for the Benadryl to help me. I was watching the clock. I was in denial that something was wrong. I realize that now. The shakes got so bad my teeth began to chatter. I was getting cold and my Mom covered me up. By now darling daughter had been redirected into the spare bedroom to watch cartoons. I knew I needed help and was trying to contact Kaiser to see where I needed to go when not at home; however, I just got a machine. And that "if you think you are experiencing an emergency hang up and dial 911" meant nothing to me. I was sure I was fine. I just needed help. This wasn't an emergency. Once again, denial.

My mouth began to get dry and then reality hit. I told my Mom I needed help right now. She said okay and rushed off to get dressed. We were all in our PJ's and I figured, why not, I would put clothes back on. I told darling daughter we needed to go take Mommy to the doctor. She didn't want to go. I don't blame her. When I came out of the room my Mom said, I don't want to drive you, I want to call 911. I was fine with that but still had to give her my okay a few times before she called. It took seconds but she wanted to be sure I was okay with the choice. At that time I was standing and fidgeting. Mom was on the phone with 911 going over things and then looked at me and directed me to the chair to lie me back down. I knew they told her to do so by the look in her eyes. She tried to recline the chair and I resisted. It made me feel worse. She told the dispatcher that I wouldn't put my head down as it made me feel worse.

It took minutes for the paramedics arrived. I heard the vehicle. They didn't have the sirens on. My Mom's neighbor saw the ambulance and came over to see if she was okay. She introduced herself to me and then went to hang out with darling daughter. The paramedics were quick and almost immediately told me they needed to take me in to the ER. I was trying to absorb all this and the paramedic repeated I needed to go it, was it okay and did I give my consent. He even said he couldn't tell if I had nodded okay since I was shaking so much. I told him I was visiting from Hawaii and had insurance concerns. Yep, of course I would be focused on that. He asked what I had. I said Kaiser. He said, the ER is fine. They will cover it. I said okay.

They were already monitoring my heart rate and had taken my blood pressure before I got on the table to go to the ambulance. I was told later that my blood pressure was really low. I called out to darling daughter that Mommy was going to go get some medicine and would be right back. I don't know if she heard me or not since I knew she was being entertained. Once in the ambulance the paramedics let me know they had to do a few things before we started moving. They were still monitoring my vitals and trying to get an IV in. I tried to keep my arm as still as possible. IV's are hard enough on a good day. My veins are small and love to roll away. He got it in on his first try. It hurt like crazy but I didn't care. Within the same time there was discussion about my oxygen levels. They were monitoring them and trying to get a firm reading. One paramedic said it was at 100% before (so obviously it wasn't anymore) and they gave me a breathing treatment too to help open my lungs. In all reality, the mask may have gone on before the IV was in my arm but I can't remember.

What I do remember is being watched like a hawk. The paramedics kept telling me to let them know if I was having problems breathing. After a few minutes or so the paramedic said he could tell I was having problems breathing. I said, I didn't notice. I trying to do mind over matter and am focusing on running tomorrow. He said that is good. Eventually, the shakes calmed down and we began to talk. I reconfirmed what he had given me - a breathing treatment to open my lungs, similar to what they give for asthma, and Predisone, a corticosteroid, in the IV. Then we started talking about running. He let me know my heart rate was coming back down and was in the upper 60's. He asked if my resting was in the mid to low 50's. I confirmed it was. He told me it was up to 79 when they first got to me and I truly appreciate that he was putting it all into place with what my normal heartbeat would be. I was glad I told him I was a runner....and I am pretty sure my Mom did too when they first arrived.

We were almost to the ER and the paramedic reconfirmed my age and called our arrival in. That is when it sank in....well, not really. But he gave my issue a name....a 40 year old woman coming in with anaphylactic shock. Those may not have been his exact words but the message was clear.

Once we got to the ER I was stable, which means, not shaking. My Mom came rushing in and seemed to relax once she saw I was doing better. She had called her friend and found out what was in the cake - pudding mix, sour cream, and butter. A dairy bomb.

The paramedics stayed by my side until I was put into an ER room and I had to repeat my story over and over. I ate a piece of cake and started to feel bad. It began to sound ridiculous and a couple of times I was asked if the cake was good - yes - or was it worth it - no.

The staff was awesome and eventually I was released. I am not sure how long I was in the room but they checked my vitals at least three times while I was there. My Mom asked one nurse if I could run the next day, the nurse said she saw no reason why not. I don't think it was the answer my Mom was hoping for but it made me smile. I was given a prescription of Predisone to take the next four days as follow up measures and to wean the drug out of my system. It was necessary and very important to take it. They reiterated it twice. I was happy to go back "home" and see darling daughter - who stayed at my Mom's neighbor's house while she rushed to the ER for me.

One piece of cake. One night. It changed my life.

You can read part 3 Life after Anaphylactic Shock HERE. Part 4 Allergy Testing Changed my World...again HERE.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the paramedics' patience and care.
Daily Affirmation: I have a purpose in life.

10 comments:

  1. WOW! So scary...glad you're okay!!

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  2. I'm so glad you are alright! How scary to know that you discovered an allergy with such a bad experience.

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  3. So glad that you are ok. But, I totally understand why you did and felt the way you did. My daughter and I have tree nut allergies. My husband and I have gluten allergies. My husband and daughter have corn allergies. We only eat organic (or at least try to as much as possible. We all just did a chemical and metal detox, so why would we want to bring in more toxins? It is so difficult to be the one or ones that have food issues all the time. You always feel like the problem child and most people don't understand. We bring our own food most places and still we get the questions. "What are you eating, why do you eat like that?" And there have been times when we compromised ourselves as well to eat what someone was serving. All that did, was stress us all out because we were sure that we ate something we shouldn't have. I am so sorry that you experienced that and so happy that you are ok. And I hope that people will just learn to except their friends and family for their choices whether they are because they have to or want to. I wish you nothing but good health and happy trails. :

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  4. how scary! Good thing your Mom was there and you weren't alone!

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  5. Very scary. So glad you went to the ER by ambulance!

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  6. I am so glad to hear that you are okay! Thank goodness the ambulance was called.

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  7. That's just awful. I'm so glad it turned out okay.

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  8. Wow, I am so sorry that this happened. My youngest has multiple food allergies (sunflower, peanut, tree nuts) and it is really helpful to me to read adults' words on how they feel when they have anaphylaxis. He is so young he can't talk yet but when I read things like this, I have a better understanding of what he must be feeling when he has an allergic reaction. I hope you never have to experience it again. Have they given you an epi-pen?

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  9. Ah! So scary. I can completely related to this because my other half has some severe food allergies too! Make sure to get a few epi shots to keep around!

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  10. Oh my god! THat's so scary! I'm glad you're okay!!

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