Not so new Epi Pen Guidelines

A 13 year old died this week in California from an accidental ingestion of peanut butter.  And from her tragic and horrible death — I hope we all remember her and learn from this terrible situation.  So many articles have already been written on the subject — but BY FAR — this is one we all have to read.    No.  Seriously.  Go read it.  Then come back.

I was JUST talking with a friend yesterday about this exact subject — that we’ve been living with food allergies for almost seven years now and we only learned last spring that an Epi pen should be given immediately at the ingestion of a known substance that has previously caused a reaction.  We’ve always done the, “wait and see,” approach — give benadryl and then watch … and pray … and so far, we’ve been incredibly lucky.  And by lucky, I mean, Sabrina is still with us today because it seems that once a year we have an accidental ingestion.

We’ve been on an ambulance three times to save Sabrina’s life (and in NONE of those times did the paramedics give Epi right away) … but in each of those cases, she got the epi immediately when she got to the hospital.   Why didn’t we, as her parents, give it?  Good question.  Sadly, for the scariest incident, we didn’t have the epi pen with us (and now we carry two with us) but for the most part, it’s a scary thought to give your child a shot.   Why didn’t the paramedics give it?  Well, that’s a whole other story — one of which is that the paramedics don’t appear to have the not-so-new-guidelines memorized either.   Don’t worry — I’ve talked to both medical directors of the paramedics unit in both Williamson and Travis counties about this exact subject.  And if you have kids with deadly food allergies, I suggest you do the same!

Here’s what our doctor told us in the spring — if your kiddo has a known food allergy and they are vomiting — give epi.  If they have any facial swelling — give epi.  If they have any trouble breathing — give epi.   No reaction at all?  Still — give epi.  A thousand dollar ambulance ride is worth every penny when you consider the alternative.

Why am I writing about this today?   The story this week really bothered me.  This girl was 13.  Her parents have been living with food allergies for 13 years!  And she died from ONE bite of peanut butter (accidentally, of course) … and her parents, “waited and watched,”  and by the time the administered epi (three times), it was too late.    My heart breaks for them.   Sabrina is going to be seven next week and she has the weight of the world on her all the time.  We have expectations that she simply “knows” what is safe.  We have expectations that when she goes to school, her teachers know what is safe.  We have expectations that when she is at camp or with friends or ANYWHERE, she is safe.  She’s only almost seven.  She can’t be expected to know.

So, please, if you are a friend or family member or a school official — help us keep Sabrina safe.  Help keep any child you know with food allergies safe. Because they are just little — and oh so sweet.

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