IF YOU HAVE EVER HAD TO GIVE YOUR CHILD AN EPI-PEN, YOU KNOW HOW SCARY IT IS. BUT THE EXPERIENCE CAN ALSO MAKE YOU STRONGER, AND YOUR CHILD SAFER.
Before we ever had to give our son the Epi, we were hoping. Hoping that he would be one of those kids that just had “mild” food allergies and would never need an EpiPen. But a year after his diagnosis, he suffered anaphylactic shock — and an EpiPen is what saved his life.
Any FA parent knows this is an experience that changes your life. From the moment that you give the Epi, you are in a state of shock, for hours or days or weeks. Like any trauma, you’ll need to tell the story over and over. You might feel jumpy or scared for a while, or just feel a new resolve. But however you are processing it, slowly it all sinks in that things have changed.
Is there an “up” side to finding out your child’s food reactions are severe, anaphylactic? Nope. There is, however, an opportunity for growth and awareness. Before the Epi, your child was just as much at risk for a severe reaction, you just didn’t know it. Now, your child is safer as a result of your actions.
After the Epi:
1. You know you can do it, and you know when to do it. If you administered the EpiPen, you can be confident that if you have to do it again, you will be ready. As well, your child’s EpiPen will never be expired, overheated or languishing in a distant cupboard: it will be on you, or your child, and ready if needed.
2. Everyone else now knows “it’s serious.”Because you have told them the story of what happened, your child’s school, babysitters, grandparents and other caregivers (and in some cases, spouse) are also taking their role in prevention more seriously.
3. You can throw away your Benadryl. You probably always knew the truth about Benadryl (that it is really just hay fever pills), but now you know for certain how useless it is in treating food reactions. Your backpack will be lighter!
4. You may avoid a future anaphylactic reaction because you have made changes. After the Epi, we threw away all the “may contain” packaged foods in our house that we had somehow hoped would be ok for our son. Obviously, they were not, and we have reduced risk because they are gone now.
5. Your assertiveness and confidence is a model for your child. Any inhibition you may have had about talking to restaurant staff, etc. fades away after the Epi. The risks are too important to ever feel sheepish or embarrassed about your child’s allergies. Your child/ children will see that you are confident and clear about your family’s needs — and as they grow they will take these essential life skills with them.
6. You know that the EpiPen saves lives. You have seen firsthand that the EpiPen, when used quickly, can reverse anaphylactic shock and respiratory distress, within minutes. It’s a miracle of modern medicine. Seeing it in action, for me, alleviated some of my fears about anaphylaxis.
It can and does work, and it saves lives every day. You just need to have it, and use it. After the Epi, you always will.
Re-published with permission from Anne King’s blog, May Contain