Last Friday, I ran to the store with my boys and had a million things on my "to do" list. As I was backing out of my parking spot (trying to see past the huge Tahoe that was parked on the drivers side), I felt my car stop. A F-150 and my car hit. Everyone was fine, both cars a little messed up, but we sat in the parking lot of the grocery store for about two hours and here is where the story begins....
It was almost 7pm by time we got done with the report, etc. The boys were hungry, it was getting late and I was emotionally exhausted. We decided to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant that has been safe for Brody the past couple of times we have eaten there.
When we got to the restaurant, it was extremely busy (Friday night). I spoke with the manager and made sure that the recipe for refried beans had not changed. He assured me that they were safe (no milk, eggs or peanuts).
We ordered the food, sat down and when it arrived, I noticed that Brody's beans had a little cheese on the side of the cup. I asked the lady if she could please get us another one because my son is severely allergic to cheese and it makes him have problems breathing and I told her we have to use an Epi-Pen. She took it back and brought out another one. Now, a little concerned, I took a spoon and looked through the beans and noticed that they looked "stringy", (like there was cheese in it). At this point, I was pretty frustrated and Brody was very upset that he couldn't eat his food. I walked up to the lady and asked her if there was cheese in the beans. She said no and I proceeded to ask if she saw them make it. She assured me that there was no cheese in the beans.
We ate our food and I didn't enjoy my dinner very much because I was watching Brody like a hawk to make sure that he didn't have a reaction, because I just felt so uneasy about the circumstances.
We got the boys home, put them to bed and two hours after ingesting the beans, Brody woke up screaming. When we went in to get him, he was wheezing, having difficulty breathing and extremely congested (snot was pouring from his nose) and coughing a little bit. We immediately gave him Benedryl and then I called a friend who is a nurse (she then called a relative that is a nurse practitioner) and recommend that we use Albuterol also and see if that didn't help the wheezing subside. Our plan of action was to use the Epi-Pen and get him to the hospital if the Albuterol didn't work.
I also called a friend of mine who has been on the food-allergy journey for awhile (I was so thankful that she got on the phone with me at 10pm) and asked if her son has ever had a reaction this long after ingesting something. I stayed on the phone with her throughout the breathing treatment. It is so encouraging to talk to those who can empathize with you.
After the Albuterol treatment, Brody's wheezing stopped and his breathing went back to normal. I held him for two hours and monitored his breathing. He also slept in my bed so I could keep checking on him (I set my alarm to wake up).
So, my thoughts on all of this?
First of all, I was thinking the entire time we were having to make decisions on what to do, was the $2 cup of refried beans worth all of this? Absolutely not. I felt responsible that he was going through this. It made my stomach feel sick. I guess we cannot trust certain places. I know it sounds bad, but I am more comfortable with the more expensive restaurants because the managers always seem to take care of it and ensure the safety of the food (but even then, there are no guarantees).
Next, my husband and I struggled with, "Is this a delayed reaction?" Can a reaction that happens two hours later be life threatening? Do we use the Epi-Pen? Last time, he reacted immediately after his accidental ingestion. I feel like there are not solid answers when it comes to using the Epi-Pen. I called my allergist yesterday and told him what had happened over the weekend. He said that this was not a delayed reaction...which made my heart drop. We essentially could have used the Epi-Pen and if he had reacted like this at the restaurant we probably would have administered it and ended up in the ER.
I was so thankful that Brody was alright, but it is something that hangs over our heads all of the time. Is the dining out going to cause a reaction that could make us end up in the emergency room? I am starting to feel more and more that it isn't worth it. People make mistakes and a little mistake could really hurt my child.
In the end, Brody was alright (thank goodness), I learned more about how he reacts and that even two hours later could be a life threatening reaction. I was also told by my allergist that if Brody had been in the care of someone else while he was wheezing and having this reaction that he should have been given the Epi-Pen; but he felt comfortable with what we did and the plan we had if it wasn't working.
To use or not use the Epi-Pen? I feel this seems to always be the question.....When in doubt, use the epi-pen. It cannot hurt your child to use it, but not administering it when needed, could be deadly.
Have any of your children experienced a reaction "after the fact"? I guess in my mind I thought that a severe reaction would happen immediately...now I know better....