Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cautionary tale

(It's important that everyone on a group trip know of any one person's allergies and what to do in case of emergency. Thanks, Morgan, for sharing your story.)

The list of things that cause 10-year-old Morgan Smith of Colorado Springs to have an allergic reaction is a long one: peanuts, soybeans, peas, eggs, cats, dogs. But until a recent camping trip, Morgan's list didn't include trout. Here's his story of a scary night in the woods that turned out all right.

A Story of Anaphylactic Shock
Two hundred miles from home and while camping at 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains I wasn’t supposed to be allergic to fish. But now I think I am after that night camping in the Uncompahgre National Forest.

We had caught 3 wild trout earlier that day down at Lake San Crystobal and had a lot of fun. My dad cleaned the fish while there so we only had to cook them when we got back to camp. When we did get back to camp, we decided to sauté them in butter and lemon juice after we steamed them. My dad let me and my sister, Michaela, sample the seasoning so we knew that we liked it. That was about 20 minutes before I even ate. My dad also cooked some shell pasta that evening also with the trout.

Dad handed me a large piece of trout and a bowl of shells, both of which had the seasoning on them. “Try a piece of fish. Is it good?” my dad asked. I tried a piece. “This is great Dad! Thanks for cooking this.” I replied.

We had started a fire right as we got back from the fishing. Only a few minutes after I had taken a bite, my gums started to itch some. I started to space out and stare into the coals of the fire. “Morgan, what’s wrong? Talk to us, come on talk to us.” My dad said, awakening me back to earth.

“Ev-Everything’s all right except my gums itch.” I stuttered back.“Get the Benadryl, Michaela!” my dad shouted. Michaela raced into the tent. “Where’s the Epi kit?” my sister asked. “It’s on my mattress!” I yelled back. My gums started to itch a lot more. My sister raced back out and gave my dad a Benadryl. He gave it to me. About a minute later, my gums didn’t itch as much. I had a few more shells, but no more trout. My chest started to hurt a little. I couldn’t breathe as well. I started to space off again and again, staring at the coals.

“Morgan, talk to us! What’s wrong? Morgan!” my dad said. “My chest hurts a little. I’m having a little trouble breathing. Grab the Epi Pen!” I said yelling at the end of my sentence. Michaela grabbed the Epi Pen out of my epi-kit. She gave it to dad and dad sat right next to me. He gave me some breathing exercises. On my last exercise, my breathing started to be really shallow. I couldn’t breathe a lot.

“Dad, give me the Epi Pen!” I croaked. Dad jammed it into my left thigh, and counted to ten. Dang! Dang this hurts! I thought. He let it out. “Michaela, put out the fire, we’re leaving.” Michaela put out the fire.

I know what you’re thinking as you read this. Didn’t you call 911 right after you inject it? We couldn’t. We were at 10,000 feet in elevation with trees surrounding us, so Dad had no cell service. We climbed into the car. I burped. “I feel like I’m going to throw up, Dad.” Dad opened the door, and I climbed out. I threw up. I knew this would happen, because whenever you body rejects something it doesn’t like, you throw it back up. After about half a minute, we climbed back into the car. My dad gave me a bag, in case if I had to throw up anymore.

We were almost at the very top of a rock 4WD trail, but my dad went over the rocks. He flashed his lights and honked his horn.Cars got out of his way.Michaela, in the back seat, kept talking to me about things. My legs we very jittery from all the adrenaline put into me from the Epi Pen. We saw red lights ahead on a type of fire truck. My dad stopped. So did the man in the truck with the flashing lights. My dad backed up. He said, “I have a son in anaphylactic shock, and I need to get him to the ER right now!” “Where is he?” the man asked.“In the back seat with me,” Dad replied. “Can you radio into the ER in Lake City to tell them we’re coming?” “Sure.”“Thanks a lot!” my Dad replied, and drove off down the road.

We came to where the gravel road met the pavement. A police car pulled out behind us. My dad rolled down his window. He waved them by. The police car came up next to us and one of the police men yelled, “Follow us!” My dad nodded back. The police car zoomed down the road toward Lake City, the nearest town. We were going about 65 mph on the road. The police car pulled over in a little circle, where an ambulance was waiting. We all opened our doors at once. I was helped out.

I limped along, because my left thigh was sore from the injection of the Epi Pen. The paramedic asked questions, and my sister answered them. He had his cut kit out ready to perform a tracheotomy on me, but I didn’t need that. My breathing was fine. He closed the doors, and the ambulance took off, my dad in his car, and the police car lights and sirens following me in the ambulance. The paramedic asked me many questions to keep me from spacing off. We got to the medical center. The doctor and nurse helped me in to the emergency room, and took my heart rate, blood pressure, and my pulse oximetry. My legs were starting to calm down. They gave me some water to drink and asked some questions like: how old are you, when did you use the Epi Pen, what medications do you take, and how do you think this happened? I answered all of them.

My dad called Mom who was back at home, and Mom was scared. I started to feel better. I got up, and went into the lobby for a little while and watched some TV. They wanted to keep me for a little while, so they could watch how I was doing. We bought another Epi Pen, and they prescribed me Prednisone. We left the medical center about 2 ½ hours later. I was very tired. We went back to camp, and I went to bed. My dad stayed up until 3:00 a.m., just to make sure I wasn’t having another shock or reaction.

I’ve been fine ever since, and we stayed up camping for another 2 days. During this incident, I was very scared of what would happen to me. I didn’t believe that the Epi Pen would really work, but it definitely did! If this were to ever happen again, I’d know what it would feel like. I wouldn’t be scared to have a shot because not being able to breathe hurts a lot more. Now I know not to eat fish, and especially trout. Even one bite can do a lot of things to your life.

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