Yes, it happened. The Little Man had an anaphylactic reaction at school yesterday. He's fine now. But the whole thing was scary and happened needlessly.
Yesterday for Holy Thursday the school does a retreat that includes the children and invites the parents to participate for the day. The boys wanted me to go and although I love spending time with them in their activities and being a part of their school experience, I'm tired, pregnant, and have a ton things to do. Spending 5 hours at school wasn't on the top of my list. Last year was the first year the school did this. In previous years they only had the kids participate. Although I planned on going last year, The Little Man became ill and had to stay home from school. This was also the day that I (won the mother of the year award) forgot to pick Older Boy up from school. So I decided to go this year partly to make up for last years debacle and partly because with the new baby coming, I probably will never go again.
As Thursday crept closer, I was having second thoughts. Maybe I'll just skip it? Maybe I'll just go for part of it? But Wednesday after school (long after school was out and everyone went home) the Little Man said "My teacher said that we'll be using bread and nuts in school tomorrow but it will be OK because I just won't touch it". HUH? What? What are they doing with this bread and nuts? He didn't know. How will they be used? In Class? For a project? Why wasn't I informed about this ahead of time? I was angry but I couldn't call anyone so it solidified my attending the retreat so that I could see what was going on. I spoke with the teacher in the AM and she said that the bread was pita bread and they were passing it around during one of the sessions for each kid to break off a piece. It was symbolizing the "unleavened" bread that they ate during Passover. They were having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch (it was a free all school lunch). He just wouldn't touch the nuts (I erroneously assumed that the PB&J was the "nuts"). The kids were broken up into groups to go through each session of the retreat. Siblings may or may not be in the same group and both boys wanted me there. I lucked out in the AM because the boys were together. This is where the bread passing took place and I made sure that the Little Man did not come in contact with the bread. They also handed out empty egg cartons for an art project (no one mentioned egg to me) and I also was able to help the Little Man by pass that possible disaster.
Lunch was eaten in the classrooms this year, not in the cafeteria as was the case last year. So I made the decision to eat in the Little Man's room so that I could keep on eye on the PB&J. All went well there, except that I was confused as to how PB&J was allowed in classrooms that were supposed to be "peanut free". At least that's what I have been told the last 3 years. Now I'm not a Pollyanna. I've been in that school enough to know that the classrooms aren't really peanut free. I've seen granola bars with nuts, Reese's peanut butter cups, peanut butter crackers, and more all in the classroom. Clearly "peanut free" is not enforced. But for the school to actually supply the peanut butter confused me (and ticked me off).
After lunch there was another session of the retreat and my boys were not together. Thinking that I navigated the bread and nut dilemma, I opted to attend the session with the Older Boy. His session was very nice. It was uplifting and didn't contain any food at all. Apparently the Little Man had a different session that I was unaware of. We'll get to that in a minutes (I know, I'm writing a book here, but stay with me). After the 3rd session, I went to my car to wait for dismissal. I saw parents who attended the retreat coming out with their kids. Crap. I should have picked up mine so we could get out of there, but apparently I didn't get the memo. I'm glad that I didn't though because the Little Man would have had his anaphyactic reaction in the car on the way home.
As I'm waiting, the secretary sticks her head out the door and says "Janeen, the Little Man is having an allergic reaction". When I get in the nurse's office, his eyes are blood red and so is his face. He can't stop rubbing his eyes. Could it be food? Is it seasonal allergies (at this point there's no other symptom except for the eyes)? I give him Benadryl in case it's seasonal but after 5 minutes it's not working and it's getting worse. I see a few hives around his eyes and one eye is starting to swell shut. I pop him with the EPI Pen and have the nurse call 911.
The fire station is right down the street and they are there in about 2 minutes. They sent 2 ambulances and a police man so there is now a lot of people crammed into the nurses office. Questions are asked about the EPI Pen and what caused the reaction. I don't know what caused the reaction.
Then it comes out. In the Little Man's 3rd session, they had pecans in zippered baggies and the kids smashed them with Lincoln Logs (except for my son who apparently just sat there as this was going on). It had something to do with learning about the beating that Jesus took on Good Friday. I can't explain it because it makes no sense to me. I just kept hearing "But they were in bags". REALLY? AND BAGS DON'T EVER GET HOLES IN THEM, RIGHT? So we aren't positive, but my best guess is that pecan protein got into the air from the "beating" and the Little Man breathed it in causing the reaction. Could it have been the PB&J? Maybe if he touched something that had peanut butter on it and then stuck his fingers in his mouth. Could it have been something from the pita bread? Maybe, but I doubt it and that was 3-4 hours before this reaction occurred.
I'm betting on the pecans.
We've never seen a reaction to pecans. We've never had pecans in the house. We never will have them around him again.
The Little Man, Older Boy and myself got a ride to the hospital courtesy of the fire department ambulance. I'm glad that I had them call 911 and didn't try to drive him myself (please always call 911 when an EPI is used). On the way there he said his throat was scratchy and they gave him some oxygen even though his levels were showing up fine.
Once in the ER 6-7 nurses and doctors came in to triage him. He ended up getting another shot of EPI (because his eyes and skin were still red, he had some rashes, and his throat was still scratchy). They gave him a steroid, Pepcid (which apparently has antihistamine properties... I did not know this), and more Benadryl. The EPI was given in the arm but the others were given through I.V. and he was not happy about that. He also got a breathing treatment because his lungs were wheezy and he got a little over a 1/2 a bag of fluid through the I.V. They had us stay 4 hours so they could monitor him and make sure the reaction wasn't biphasic.
Since this story has become epic, I won't share my "tips". I'll save those for another day and a separate post.
He's home now and doing fine. He'll continue to get Pepcid, Benadryl and the steroid over the next 2-3 days to keep any biphasic reactions at bay. He'll also get extra love and attention for all that he's been through.
I'll also be sending the school an e-mail demanding a meeting after spring break is over and I'll be revising his "action plan" to get us through the end of the year safely.
I'm so thankful that this ended well. But I need to do everything in my power to make sure that this never happens again. It was completely needless and senseless and they put my child's life in danger.
If you got this far, thanks for reading. I promise to try and make the "tips" post shorter.