I used to make jokes and wonder how someone could "accidentally" give themselves an epinephrine shot -- until it happened to us.
My three-year-old son once found an EpiPen on the counter and thought it was the practice EpiPen that we allow him to play with. It happened so quickly. I had emptied out my pockets when we got home and placed the EpiPen where I thought it was out of reach. I was right beside him making lunch, and I didn't realize what he was playing with until I heard him scream, saw the shock on his face and an EpiPen in his hand.
I called 9-1-1 immediately. I explained what happened to the operator, and instead of sending an ambulance, he provided me with the phone number to Telehealth so I could speak directly with a nurse for medical advice. After speaking with that nurse and answering a series of questions, she concluded that it was not an emergency**, mainly because my son shot the epinephrine in his thigh, the appropriate place, and his behavior and breathing were normal. I was told to take him directly to the hospital if his condition changed. I sought a second opinion by contacting my doctor's office and got the same advice.
**I am not a medical professional. I am simply sharing my experience. If this happens to you or someone in your household, please contact a physician or emergency services for advice on what you need to do. All situations are different.
I don't recommend that anyone use epinephrine unless it's absolutely necessary, but I did take away some positive lessons from our accidental Epi-Pen experience:
1. Keep Calm and Carry On
I'm a very expressive person, which is the main reason I'm such an awful poker player. My biggest regret from this experience was my initial panic when I realized that he used the real EpiPen. My fear and shock caused my son to become even more afraid. He was already scared and howling because of the pain in his thigh, and my initial reaction probably caused him to believe he was also going to get in trouble. It took a minute or so for me to calm down and collect myself, and once I did, he felt reassured and stopped crying.
The last thing I want is for my son to be afraid of an EpiPen or think that it's "bad" to use an EpiPen. If this ever happens again, I'll remember to keep my cool.
2. EpiPens are Not Something to Be Afraid Of
I'm actually a little thankful that this happened, because he was too young to remember the last time we used an EpiPen on him. Now he knows what it feels like and that his leg only hurt for the initial needle prick. Once the excitement was over, we had a long talk about EpiPens and what they do, and why he doesn't need to be afraid to use them.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
I wondered if giving him access to the practice EpiPen was a mistake, but I quickly dismissed the thought. The fact that he had so much practice is the reason he knew that epinephrine is injected in the thigh, which was the reason this accident was not more serious. Had it been injected in the eye, neck, or any other area, the outcome may have been different.
4. Understand the Difference Between Practice and Real EpiPens
The yellow label I taped on the practice EpiPen peeled off, so it looked almost identical to a real EpiPen. We've since changed our approach and taught him to understand the difference between the real and practice EpiPens. I let him hold the two at the same time and asked him to point out the differences. The main difference was the window that shows the medication. Finally, we have agreed that before he practices, he needs to double-check with an adult if it's the appropriate EpiPen to practice with.
5. Pay Attention and Stay Organized
As with most accidents, this one was completely preventable. EpiPens are always supposed to be kept in the same place at all times when we're in our home, and I must not allow distractions to get me disorganized.
If you’re celiac or gluten intolerant, you know how awful you can feel if you accidentally eat gluten. But some allergies can actually be immediately life threatening — nuts and peanut allergies in particular. That adds a whole other dimension of worry when you’re eating out. Check out these tips for recognizing a potentially dangerous allergic reaction early on.
At Bunner’s, there are no nuts or peanuts used on site, so none of their products are made with either of those ingredients. However, it’s still hard to verify that they are 100 per cent nut- or peanut-free because they use ingredients from outside manufacturers, and those are sometimes processed on the same lines as those that do have nuts and peanuts. This is the case for many restaurants and food manufacturers, so it’s important to ask if you absolutely must avoid any traces of a particular ingredient.
There are a variety of reasons why someone might avoid a particular ingredient: they could be vegetarian or vegan, they could have a food intolerance, they could have a food allergy, or they could have a condition like celiac disease. Because there are so many reasons for dietary restrictions, and because the information we have on what causes these issues is incomplete and always evolving, some people don’t take them seriously — and that can make people sick, or worse. You can help improve this by being an informed and reasonable consumer — an ambassador for the dietarily restricted, if you will!
Nobody likes to be the person at the dinner party who has to ask the host about the minutae of what each dish contains, or to be the diner at a restaurant who needs to talk to the staff about the menu in detail. But having food restrictions means you have to ask questions — sometimes uncomfortable ones — in order to ensure your meal is safe. But if you can bring along a dish that’s both safe for you to eat and delicious, or suss out a restaurant in advance so you know what you can order when you get there, there’s no reason to eat alone.
Have you ever looked at the cost of gluten-free products? Six dollars for a small loaf of bread is not uncommon. The same goes for other specialty products like nut-free baked goods or dairy-free yogurts. For people with food restrictions, there’s often a compromise to be made between giving up many of the foods you enjoy and budgeting for a lot more money spent at the grocery store. People with celiac disease can actually claim the cost of gluten-free foods as a medical expense when filing their taxes in Canada.
There’s increasingly more awareness of alternative diets, food intolerances, and allergies among restaurants, and even many chain restaurants have specialty menus or information sheets indicating which foods are free of ingredients like shellfish, gluten, and eggs. Specialty shops like Bunner’s are also starting to open up across the country, and are finding that they have an audience eager for their goods. But many other restaurants and restaurant staffers aren’t aware of the issues, or the many ingredients a person might have to avoid, which means you could end up doing a lot of education when you’re out for a meal. And in restaurants where preparation surfaces and cooking utensils are shared — which is most of them — there is always a risk of cross-contamination.
It’s hard enough to learn about which foods you have to avoid when you’re an adult, or to accept that there are some things that you just can’t eat — imagine how hard it can be when you’re a kid, or for parents who have to worry about what their child might eat when he or she is out of sight. It can also be difficult for children when they have to refuse treats on a classmate’s birthday. If you have to adjust your child’s school lunches because a schoolmate has a restriction or allergy — for some families, it really is a matter of life or death.
See below for recipe
See below for recipe
See below for recipe
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