Reaction Time

Four years ago, during a church Christmas play, Alex ate five mini ritz-bits crackers. Less than an hour later, he was puking his little thirteen month-old guts out. The next dayI called his pediatrician and requested an allergy test. At that time, we were told that our sweet boy was allergic to peanuts, tree-nuts, eggs and soy.

The allergist gave us two EpiPens and sent us on our way.

That pack of EpiPens expired. And so did the next pack.

AND, the next pack.

For that, we are grateful.

On Sunday, the boys and I headed out to the grocery store because we were out of Dr. Pepper and chocolate poptarts, which pretty much means things were gettin’ serious around here.  As we made our way through the store, the boys were driving me half-way out of my mind (not a long trip), so when they asked if they could have a [free] cookie from the deli, I came *thisclose* to telling them no. I gave in though, because 1. the cookies are free, and 2. I just knew it would insure me three minutes of peace.

When Alex walked up to me, I looked down and my heart sank. He had eaten about three bites of what appeared to be a peanut butter cookie.

Approximately thirty seconds later he told me “the water inside of his mouth felt weird”.

We scrambled to check out and loaded the groceries into the van. We made the two minute drive home and ran to the bathroom because I assumed he would throw up any minute, just as he did the first time we discovered the allergy. I looked inside of his mouth and was crazy with fear thinking I might need to administer that EpiPen, but even more fearful that I wouldn’t use it in time. I made a quick call to our nurse neighbor and asked if I’d be able to visably see his throat closing off by looking in his mouth. She suggested we drive him to the ER immediately. McDaddy drove way faster than he was supposed to and I was thankful that we live pretty close to a Children’s Hospital. During the short drive, I watched his breathing and asked him lots of time about his throat to make sure he could talk clearly.

When we arrived at the hospital, a nurse took us back to triage where he assessed Alex’s breathing and air passages. Thankfully, nurse told us his breathing passages were clear, and then explained that a serious reaction would have happened within five or ten minutes, and a milder reaction would have happened within thirty minutes. He sent us out to the waiting room to watch the crazy for signs of breathing trauma while waiting Alex’s turn in line.

Folks, the emergency room is an interesting place. Especially if you have a history of self-diagnosis and medical drama.

After about ninety minutes, McDaddy and I both agreed that we’d wait thirty more minutes before leaving to head home. He hadn’t gotten any worse and seemed perfectly content to sit in that waiting room and play his DS. Not more than ten minutes later though, he began to scratch his legs and when I pulled up his gym shorts, I discovered his skinny little legs were breaking out with little red bumps. And if that wasn’t enough, he was crying because “his belly was hurting badly.”

And my heart was aching knowing that I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON TOP OF MY GAME.

Within minutes we went to the bathroom and he threw up BIG.

Between the rash and the vomiting, he got moved ahead of the line and we finally got settled into a hospital bed around 10 PM. We watched him for about an hour, and in that time, the hives got worse, and he developed a horrible cough and runny nose. Thankfully, after a dose of benedryl and what seemed like three or four hours, we got to go home.

So unfortunately, I learned a few things through this experience.

1. That even though we made it four years without an accidental exposure, I can not let me guard down for one single second when it comes to Alex’s food allergies.

2. Just because a triage nurse tells you that a reaction would have happened within thirty minutes, that doesn’t make it so.

3. We have been blessed, even with his food allergies that his is not more serious or life threatening.

4. When you’re headed to the ER and your iPhone is showing 40% charge TAKE YOUR FRIGGIN’ CHARGER.

That’s what I learned this week.

What did YOU learn this week?

You know The Drill.


  1. Sara Anders says

    **When traveling, it is intersting to get newspapers from various stops along the way.

    **Not all Sunday papers carry coupon inserts (or they were stolen…urgh).

    **If the grocery store is out of an item on the 3 day sale, make sure you ask for a raincheck, because they probably won’t get it restocked during the sale.

    **When moving a laptop from room to room, it would be nice to have multiple chargers.

    Have a great week Julie!

  2. Jean says

    I’m thankful Alex is fine. I’m going to be praying more fervently for complete healing from that allergy for Alex and for Lydia. He does NOT intend for them to go through their lives with those allergies. I believe He wants them whole. Amen. 🙂

  3. says

    Julie, sometimes it freaks me out just a little how much we have in common. My 9 year old son has food allergies, namely peanuts and tree nuts. (He outgrew the egg allergy, TYVM!) We carry an EpiPen and managed to get through the last 9 years with no accidental exposure. When he was too young to speak up for himself and we were attending a party or a church/family get-together, I would pin a badge to him that said “Hi! My name is Tucker! I have food allergies so please ask Mom or Dad before offering me anything to eat!” It worked. Then he became his own best advocate and even though the school cooks attempted to feed him forbidden foods on a few occasions, he managed to do outsmart them.

    But not his own Mom. 🙁 He enjoys soy butter and honey sandwiches. I carefully pack his lunch each day and had never goofed until about three weeks ago. His sister wanted peanut butter and jelly and I somehow managed to swap their sandwiches.

    I’m now up for Mother of the Year. You may feel free to cast your vote at ‘’.

    The little guy ate the entire sandwich. THE. WHOLE. THING. He broke out in hives the size of nickels; his face swelled; his eczema started to flare. It was horrible. No breathing issues, and I am thankful to God for that. A heavy dose of Benadryl brought him out of it. Though his reaction (itching) started within 20 minutes, it continued for 3 hours before it was noticed. No one at school caught on. I picked him up from school and immediately knew something was wrong. He couldn’t see the hives because they were under his clothes. He just knew he was itching, so he scratched.

    I’m so glad that now you know what sort of reaction Alex will have. It was almost a relief to us to know how Tucker will react as opposed to living in fear of ‘what if’. Dr. Clark seems to think that since he ingested SO MUCH peanut butter, this may be the extent of his reaction to it. But we still carry the Pen, just in case. Better safe than sorry.

  4. says

    I have shellfish & latex allergies and have been told by my allergist that reactions often become progressively worse each time, so that’s something to watch out for as well.

    I’m so glad that everything worked out okay. You’ve certainly had more than your share of scares over the summer — I think it’s time for them to be OVER!

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