31 May 2013

Adventures in Anaphylaxis.

   So this is a post I didn't expect to make.  My little Kaylee Jo has found out the hard way she is allergic to fire ants.  We were playing at my grandmother's home - she and Zane love visiting their great-grandma and her dog, Gizmo.  Zane was running ahead of Grandma, and Kaylee was behind.  Grandma warned Zane not to step in the ant bed she just noticed, but didn't see Kaylee behind her step right into it.  I was on my way across the yard already and I scooped her up and brushed off the ants - but they'd already done a pretty severe job of chewing up her right foot.  She started to swell immediately.  When I noticed a few moments later as we were covering her foot and leg in salve and a wet rag that she was starting to break out on her face - that's not right.
  I asked Grandma to look after Zane and I took Kaylee to the car and drove her to the urgent care facility two blocks from Grandma's house.  They took one look at her already swelling lips and eyes and told me to take her to the ER immediately.  So back into the car we went, and I ran a coupla lights and cursed more than a few other drivers rushing to get Kaylee to St. David's Round Rock.  As we drove she was crying loudly most of the way, and it seemed every time I looked back at her she was more and more red and swollen.  I reached back and held her hand - when the crying stopped, that's when I really started to worry.  The memory of finding out my JROTC classmate David Antonie had died in college of severe anaphylactic shock kept playing over and over in my head.  Smartest kid in the battalion, full ride to A&M... brought low by carrot cake.  I rushed Kaylee into the ER and to be honest, their immediate action made me even more worried.  I mean, I've seen people with bleeding wounds sit for hours in the waiting room and whoosh - they took Kaylee back without so much as asking if she had medical insurance.  She was instantly surrounded by a doctor, three nurses and two techs.  Epinephrine.  Benadryl IV.  Luckily, she never actually stopped breathing - but her eyes were nearly swollen shut at that point, and her lips looked like the wax candies we used to get as kids.
  Dr. McCusky told me I could hold her to make her feel safer, and I did.  I climbed into her bed and she fell right asleep on Daddy as the benadryl won out over the epi.  We spent five hours in the ER watching her color slowly return to something less like a killer tomato.  I'll admit it, folks, this is THE most scared I've ever been in my life.  The thought that I might lose my little girl was earthshaking.  Here it is five days later and it still sends chills down my back.  The Doc told me this was a no-shit allergy and Kaylee would need to have an epi pen with us wherever we went.  He quipped - not entirely kidding - that we should consider moving north where fire ants are much less prevalent.  Here in Texas you can't go ten feet without finding an ant mound in a field or public park.  It's like a poisonous, biting minefield.  When Mary finally got my phone message and came up to the hospital, we swapped off for a bit so I could hit the restroom - but true to form Kaylee really, really wanted Daddy.  Back into the bed I went until Kaylee was released.
  The hospital staff was uniformly awesome.  They spared no effort to make sure Kaylee was as comfortable as she could be, and one of the nurses (cute!) could tell how worried I was, and made sure to get my attention and tell me "You did good getting her here, Dad."  When we got Kaylee home, we were able to see the actual bites once the major swelling had gone down.  I counted FIFTY separate ant bites.  All in under 20 seconds.

  This was a major eye-opener for me.  When we visited our GP two days later Dr. Turner confirmed for us that this was a potentially fatal allergy if untreated, and also reiterated what Dr. McCusky had told us - if she begins to swell, hit her with the epi pen, give her children's benadryl, and then take her immediately to the nearest ER.  Don't wait and see, just go.  It's more than a bit unsettling to know that something that's as common as days ending in "Y" here in Central Texas have the potential to be life-threatening to our little girl.  Zane and I have become overly paranoid about ants and making sure Kaylee stays the hell away from them.

  Ugh.  I still shudder when I think about it.  For Kaylee's part, she's bouncing back just fine.  She's smiling and happy, snuggly and cheerful (when she's not acting like she's two) and generally an amazing little girl.  She knows how do dial my friend Bobby on my cel phone.  She can manupulate Netflix on the 360.  She's smart as well as beautiful - and oh, yeah, she apparently kissed a boy at daycare two days ago.  Now I have to find out who he is and make sure his intentions are honorable...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this story! It's super helpful when trying to describe what anaphylaxis looks like to someone who has never seen it happen. Thank you!