Unless you’re in Colorado or the Southern hemisphere, it’s springtime. And with the warmer weather comes my least favorite thing…bees. And yes, I know that bees are essential to our environmental well-being, but the thing is, I’m allergic, so while I wish the bees well, I tend to say “not in my backyard.” But I use my bee allergy to highlight something important that I know I never had a true understanding of until I experienced it: Anaphylaxis. Today is National Anaphylaxis Awareness Day. Most people haven’t experienced it firsthand, so this is my little effort to increase awareness. Anaphylaxis isn’t something to mess around with. If you know someone who has a serious allergy that can result in anaphylaxis, please, please, make sure that you take their condition seriously and help them to be aware of possible places/ways their allergy could be triggered. You might save their life.
It all started with a bee…
Saturday afternoon I walked out the front door of our rental property we’d been fixing up. As I walked down the stairs a bee stung me on the ankle. I was pissed (naturally) and as I stood there slapping at my ankle, Mr. L walked out to see what the fuss was. Then another one stung me on the arm. I joked about giving him a call if I went into anaphylactic shock, and then I drove down the block to pick up my 15 yr old at her friend’s house. Here’s what happened from there:
Within five minutes I was lightheaded, prickly in various places, disoriented, and my tongue and lips were getting numb. I went straight back to the house Mr. L was working on because I knew I shouldn’t be driving.
Within eight minutes my nasal passages had nearly swollen shut and I was sneezing and coughing.
Within ten minutes Mr. L had me at the Urgent care and I was so uncomfortable all over my body I could hardly hold still. The staff there said there was nothing they could do for me and I should go to the ER.
Within fifteen minutes I had passed out on the sidewalk in front of the Urgent Care while I waited for Mr L to get the car and take me to the hospital. Luckily my 15 yr old daughter was next to me and caught me so I didn’t smash my head on the sidewalk.
Within 20 minutes I was in the back of an ambulance, on oxygen, convulsing, with my blood pressure having dropped to 80 over 60something, vomiting, and going in and out of consciousness.
Over the next two and a half hours I was in the ER, being given various medications, through two IVs. When steroids finally took the swelling down (both internally and externally) I stabilized enough to be sent home with a prescription for several more days of steroids and an Epipen that I now have to carry with me everywhere for the rest of my life. And if all that’s not incredible enough, it took me a full week to recover. When I tried to cut back on the steroids after three days, my symptoms came back–hives, swelling eyes, trouble breathing. It wasn’t until day seven that I was finally able to stop the medications and feel like a normal person again.
And yes, I’d been stung before, and no, I hadn’t had a reaction. So, here’s what I hope you’ll take away from this: Anaphylaxis is nothing to mess with. No matter what triggers it, if you know someone who has an allergy severe enough to cause anaphylaxis, take it seriously. Take them seriously. Be the friend or family member who reminds them to carry their Epipen and helps them read labels on food. They’ll be able to thank you by living a long life.
For More Information on Anaphylaxis: http://www.foodallergy.org/anaphylaxis