How to Save a Life

Dylan and Jason 2 (1)My brother, who also has a peanut allergy, recently got married and the wedding was a huge success! However, a week before the wedding, we had his bachelor party up at a friend’s cottage in Muskoka. It was a guest cabin, completely “decked” out with a kitchen and everything you would need for a rainy October weekend!

At midnight on the second night (sounds cliché but I’m not kidding), our group was sitting around the kitchen table playing Cards Against Humanity when my brother suddenly says, “hey guys, I don’t want to alarm anyone but is this bad?” He pulled up his shirt and his chest was covered in hives. Seeing as how we had all been drinking for some time, we initially thought to rationalize the reaction. He had a previous allergic reaction two years ago so I was trying to remember what symptoms he had. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the hives were something he had never experienced before and we hadn’t eaten anything that even “may contained” nuts, so we were confused to say the least. After asking if he felt several other common symptoms, I asked him to lift up his shirt to see his back. When he lifted, his entire back was COVERED in hives! So that’s when we all got up, realized it was serious, and headed to the main cabin to see if the owner could drive us to a hospital. He told us that he had a few beers in his system also and the nearest hospital was an hour away! (Insert internal panic now.) My brother called 9-1-1 and they said, “An ambulance is 30 minutes away so do what you can for now and if you have your auto-injector, you should use it.”

Ambulance

So once my brother got off the phone, he looked at me and asked if I had the Allerject™ on me that I had been bragging about getting before him. I nodded my head and held it out to him. He’s afraid of needles and told me I had to do it! I shook my head and insisted he do it but he very sternly told me he wouldn’t, then got down on one knee. I think the voice of the Allerject™ was what helped calm me the most because once I pulled it out, and in my opinion, the process was nearly impossible to have messed it up. It even counted for me, which was amazing. After the injection, we went inside the cottage to stay warm and as we waited, the hives slowly went away. When the ambulance arrived, I went with my brother to the closest hospital. On a side note, sitting in the front seat of an ambulance was pretty cool!

Anyway, I chatted with the driving paramedic and he told me that we were lucky to have the auto-injector and smart to have used it. There’s no telling when or how a reaction will play out and it seems that the epinephrine did its job well. The reaction had died down so much, in fact, that we were just going to the hospital for the “monitoring” phase to make sure nothing further happened.

We are still trying to find out what caused the reaction and think it may have been a case of cross-contamination at the cottage. I like to think of this story not as the day that potentially ruined a bachelor party, but the day that I saved my brother’s life for his wedding the next weekend!

In support of FAAM, share your epi knowledge!

Hi! My name is Nicole, and I’m allergic to fish, crustaceans, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, peas and beans.

In honour of Food Allergy Awareness Month, I started to think about what people should be more “aware of” when it comes to allergies… Hmm. I realized that people ask me about my epinephrine auto-injector  a lot!

Below are some of the common questions I am asked and my answers.

Removing teh cap from an EpiPen training device

Order EpiPen training materials from http://www.EpiPen.ca

Have you ever had to use an auto-injector?
I have personally never been injected, but I have had to use an auto-injector on someone else. Have you ever used one?

Does it hurt?
I don’t know, because I have never used it, but I think that when the time comes I would welcome using it as opposed to suffering with symptoms.

Removing the cap from a Twinject training device

Order Twinject training materials from http://www.Twinject.ca

(According to our Teen Panelists at the Winnipeg Conference, it doesn’t hurt!)

How do you use it?
This differs on whether you carry an EpiPen© or Twinject© auto-injector. You can visit either one of their websites for detailed instructions. You can also download instructions with an Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan  from Anaphylaxis Canada’s “Resources” section.

Removing needle from Twinject training device

Order Twinject training materials from http://www.Twinject.ca

Where do you keep it?
It depends where I am and what I am doing. Usually it is in my purse, but sometimes it is in my backpack or pocket. Where do you keep yours?

Do you always take it everywhere you go?
Yes, I take it absolutely everywhere I go! If I ever forget it, I start to feel really anxious, because I know that my safety net isn’t there. If that happens, I return home to get it!


FINALLY…

There are two things that I really want to emphasize about epinephrine auto-injectors:

1)  TRAIN!

Train yourself and others on how to properly use the auto-injector that you carry.  Friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, family members, teachers, coaches, tutors and other people you spend time with should know how to keep you safe in the event of an emergency. You can order free training materials from www.EpiPen.ca or www.Twinject.ca.

2)      DON’T HESITATE!

If you or someone you are with show signs of an allergic reaction, don’t hesitate – use the epinephrine auto-injector! It is better to be safe than sorry, and for most people, there are few health risks associated with using it. On the other hand, if you don’t use it right away, you are at greater risk for potentially life-threatening symptoms.

So for this month, I challenge you to think about something that you want others to know about your allergies and try your best to educate them!

Stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!

Nicole

Food Allergy Awareness Month, tip of the day – If you’re experiencing a severe allergic reaction, you may not be able to give yourself an epinephrine auto-injector. To prepare for that situation, show others how to to use your auto-injector – and let them practice with a training device! For more information about Food Allergy Awareness Month, visit www.whyriskit.ca.