Georgia had a very delayed reaction (think: 4-5 hours after ingestion), consisting primarily of vomiting, after eating about a slice and a half of sandwich bread containing tree nuts. She took Benadryl and was later given an anti-nausea pill at the hospital, but at no point did we have to inject the Epipen. Our allergist recommended over the phone that we go straight to the closest E.R., so we did.
This particular E.R. probably deals with more trauma injuries than pediatric allergy cases, so I'm not sure anyone there ever 100% believed that Georgia's symptoms were due to food allergy and not the flu, since she was not presenting the "classic" profile of allergic reaction symptoms including hives and airway restriction. (But I saw my little girl playing hard all afternoon, and I saw her waking up as happy as a clam again this morning, so I don't think she just spontaneously came down with the flu yesterday at 5 p.m. and then fully recovered by 11 p.m.)
Regardless, she is fine now, which we are all thankful for. That is what matters most. The silver lining here is that it was a great learning experience. So I thought I'd just focus on the positives and discuss some of the lessons we gleaned:
- Now we know to give Benadryl once an allergen has been accidentally consumed, even if there are no symptoms yet, because it might help prevent a reaction from starting. (I feel like an idiot for not realizing that we should've done that until well after the fact.)
- Now we'll have the allergist's phone number stored on our cell phones. We had no trouble looking it up online from where we were, but it dawned on us that that won't always be the case.
- Now I will feel less weird about going to the hospital if we ever have to do this again. I'll be less hesitant to seek medical help.
- This is a "data point" for Georgia. I know from talking to adult friends with food allergies that they have developed over the years an ability to know what's going on with their bodies. They probably wouldn't mistake a food allergy reaction for the flu, because they know the sensations of having an allergic reaction. So, for Georgia, this is just another data point to help her better understand her own body.
- We weren't on vacation, but the next time we are, I'll look up where the closest hospital is and how to get there. (I've heard that tip 1,000 times but never thought much about it. I guess I figured we either wouldn't need a hospital or would be calling 9-1-1, but last night I realized that there is a middle ground type of reaction, during which it's helpful to know how to get to the hospital.)
- The pendulum that swings from lax to vigilant in our house just swung back to vigilant. As much as we are all trying to avoid reactions, and accidents are kind of inevitable, there's nothing like a reaction to remind you that allergies are real.
- Having been through the E.R. experience now, I think next time we'll just head to the closest hospital and let the chips fall where they may, instead of thinking ahead to the rest of the evening, or what hospital we'd like to get to (banking on the fact that Georgia is probably fine), or that kind of thing.
- Joe would add that one lesson he learned was to pack a hospital "entertainment bag" for your one year old who will be up way past her bedtime. Yeah, that sounds nice, sweetie, but seriously, what are the chances we'll ever have such a thing at the ready when we really need it?
- Seems that cell phones don't work in most medical buildings. Next time I'll know to tell concerned family members not to worry if they don't hear an update for a couple hours. Also, I have rid myself of the delusional belief that an E.R. visit can be accomplished in thirty minutes or less. : )
- Last valuable lesson: if you walk into triage and promptly throw-up into their trash can, you will be admitted faster. (True, but I'm just kidding about that being a "lesson".)
So, given the probability that an E.R. trip was going to be on our agenda someday anyway (sorry, just being a realist), how great is it that we were able to figure out all of these things in the midst of this reaction instead of a more severe one?
Other positives/funny stories:
- June of course sprung a diaper leak while we were there, so Joe was covered in multiple bodily fluids. We did have a back-up diaper on hand, but no extra clothes, so June spent the rest of the evening charming the hospital staff mostly naked.
- During a fussy toddler moment, some guy followed by two cops walked by, and Joe urgently said to me, "Video! Something that takes video! A camera phone, I don't know - something, anything!" I immediately started scrambling through our bags looking for a recording device, not understanding what he so urgently needed to record, thinking that it related to the guy or the cops. Turns out he was just hoping we had some sort of on-screen entertainment available for June. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh.....now I get it.
- I let the girls play with surgical gloves, but Georgia quickly and furtively shoved them back at me the moment the physician opened the curtain, because she thought she'd be in trouble for using them. (Maybe you had to be there, but it was really hysterical.)
- We let June eat half of the Pedialyte popsicle that Georgia was given. (Georgia had to keep it down before they'd let us leave.) What can I say? By that point, we were convinced Georgia was fine, desperate to leave faster, and out of ways to keep June pacified.
- We love our allergist! She responded quickly to the after-hours call, gave us clear advice, called ahead to the hospital to let them know that we were on our way in (not that that made any difference, but still, a nice touch!), and then called me this morning to see how Georgia was doing. Love her.
Yeah, I took some pictures. Why not? What else you gonna do when stuck in cramped quarters with your family doing a whole lot of hurry up and wait?