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The Worst Day Of My Life

Worst Day Ever

I have a secret. I am not as diligent as people think I am. I step out of my comfort zone occasionally, sometimes unintentionally, sometimes with the knowledge that I am doing it. But I’m not always the safe mom I pretend to be.
The story I want to share with you is not for the weak of stomach. I wasn’t going to share it, but I think that hearing our real-life story can make it a little more real to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

In May 2005, when my daughter was five years old, our family participated in the Susak K. Komen Breast Cancer walk. This is a tradition we have done for many years in honor of both my grandmothers, my aunt, and several dear friends who have been struck with breast cancer. Part of our tradition was to go to the bakery where my grandmother worked and give her the flowers, shirt, hats, etc. that we collected at the race. Our whole family goes. My cousins, parents, everyone in the family goes to celebrate my grandma’s life.

This year when the cookies were handed out to all the grandkids, we “asked” if they had nuts. We didn’t check the ingredients. We didn’t look for ourselves to see. We assumed it was okay. In a matter of two seconds, my daughter spit out her cookie and said “Mommy, something is wrong, my mouth hurts, my tummy hurts!” I grabbed the cookie off the floor and mushed it in my hand. There it was – the one lone walnut that had entered her mouth.

Okay…freeze time for a second. On any normal day, I have a collection of EpiPens I carry with me. Today I did not. I was in a track outfit with no pockets. I didn’t want to carry my purse out of inconvenience. This all seems so irrelevant now, but I didn’t have the one thing that I would soon need.

Unfreeze – less than a minute later we grabbed her, my son and my mother and got into the car. Our first thought was to drive across the street to the Smith’s grocery store. Mistake number one. Before we even got my kids buckled, my daughter began vomiting. Now there is normal vomiting, and there is the kind of vomiting when a child’s body is forcefully trying to get rid of an allergen that is attempting to kill the host. She was in the back seat and her little body became it’s own demon. She would thrust her body like she was having a seizure and vomit across the car, hitting the front seat passengers. (I am sorry to be so graphic, but I want you to hear this story as I witnessed it.) We drove across the street (literally) and arrived in the parking lot. My husband sprinted to get some Benadryl.

I always wondered if I would know when I would need to use the EpiPen. My daughter’s allergist said I would know, I would just know. She was right. I knew. I looked at her and her lips were turning purple. She was grabbing and clawing at her throat. I knew Benadryl would not stop this. At the specific Smith’s where we were, there was a drive up pharmacy window. I grabbed my daughter out of the backseat of the car and carried her to the window. I pounded on the window. Seriously, I must have looked like some crazed woman trying to get pain meds or something, with the exception of the little body starting to go limp in my arms. I yelled at the pharmacist to call 911 and give me an EpiPen “NOW!”

I didn’t have a prescription with me. I didn’t even have my cell phone to call her allergist and get verification. Thankfully for me, seeing my daughter in my arms was all it took for the pharmacist to grab every EpiPen box they had and shove them all through the window (there are different kinds based on dosages). I located the one she used, ripped open the box and went to the bench next to the window. I popped the top and jammed the thing into my daughter’s upper thigh.

About the same time, my husband was inside the store in front of the pharmacy, witnessing the pharmacist calling 911 and giving me the EpiPens. I can only imagine what he was thinking. By the time I pulled the needle out of my daughter’s thigh, I could hear the ambulance. I did the only thing I could. I held her. I held her little limp body that was convulsing. I held her and prayed. My husband raced out of the store by this time, not paying for the Benadryl and throwing his credit card to another pharmacist. He made it out just in time for the paramedic to take her from me and put her into the ambulance.

Okay, now keep in mind that all this happened in about seven minutes. It was the most crazy, high adrenaline pumping, “I don’t know what in the world just happened” moment of my life. I remember asking the paramedic if it was okay that I gave her the EpiPen shot. He said, “You just saved her life.” Justin went with her to Primary Children’s Hospital. I drove my mom home and left my son (who was three at the time) with her. I went home for a quick minute to shower (I hadn’t thought about the large quantities of vomit all over me) and change then headed back up to Primary’s. They were so amazing with her. We only had to wait to see if she had a secondary reaction. She did, about two hours after the initial one, and broke out in hives. But, she was alive and okay.

In the meantime, I called her allergist and had her call in a prescription to the pharmacy. Once my daughter was released to go, we took flowers to the pharmacist and thanked her for doing something she wasn’t allowed to, and saving our daughter’s life. We also thanked the manager and told them all how they each played a vital role in her still being alive.

My son has no memory of the day. His sweet grandma stayed in the car with him and kept him entertained. I remember him saying “Sissy is sick?” and “Oooooo, look, a fire truck!” His grandmother, however, will never forget this day and when she returned home, she removed every nut in her house.

That night I took a picture of my two kids asleep on the couch. Then I lost it. All the emotions from the day came pouring through and I cried, and cried and cried hysterically at the thought of what could have happened.

That’s when we decided we will not lose our daughter to a nut. It just isn’t going to happen. I will admit, there have been times where I have left the EpiPen at home, or “thought” I had one. But those moments are few and far between and we take extra precautions when going on trips and such. The point is this, no matter how diligent I think I am, or anyone caring for her, something can happen. I can only do my best and try. I still have the washed, but very stained race shirt as a reminder of what did happen. Until she is older, her safety is in my hands. I may make a decision that some see as “overbearing.” Many people think I am “overprotective and over exaggerating.” I don’t care. This is my decision to make. Until you have seen your child almost die in your hands, you don’t get to judge me or my decisions. I will not lose my daughter to a nut and I will do what I need to, to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Author: Kelly

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Discovering My Daughter’s Nut Allergy
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