Wednesday, July 15, 2009

EpiPen Practice

You may have already heard of or even done this, and I just might be behind the times, but when a parent at a recent PAK meeting made this suggestion, I couldn't believe that it isn't something recommended by doctors and educators everywhere. It was suggested that parents and allergic children carefully, and with full adult supervision, practice administering a shot of epinephrine using an expired EpiPen and an orange. I thought this was a fabulous idea and had 3 expired pens in the top of my pantry. They've been there for some time waiting to be taken to the pediatricians office for disposal. What a great use for them!

This last Sunday afternoon, Abigail, her daddy and I all got to practice. That poor orange was full of holes by the time we got finished. We recorded Abigail's experience to share with our readers. I should note that prior to recording, we sat down with Abigail and discussed in detail each of the steps and explained how careful she should be with the needle. We also made sure that she understood that epinephrine is not something to mess with and should only be injected when she could not breathe (like she would's a needle right?). When she finished her practice shot, she made the comment that she liked doing it and that she wanted to do it again. I guess that's better than being freaked out by the whole experience and wanting nothing to do with her EpiPens. Of course, after seeing the needle, we all developed a slightly better appreciation of the seriousness of what she so casually carries around.

Right now, she carries 2 EpiPen Jr. Auto-Injectors, 3 antihistamine tablets, an instruction sheet and medical release form in a cute monogrammed bag. It goes with us every time we head out the door. That bag has been handed to more people than I can count: Sunday School teachers, coaches, camp directors, friends' moms on play dates, grandparents, etc. After 4 years, it's now just second nature. I keep another set of EpiPen Jrs. at home in the kitchen and during the school year, a set are kept in her classroom and go with her teacher to lunch, to Specials, to the playground and on field trips. There is also antihistamine medicine (liquid and chewable) in the pantry and upstairs in the medicine cabinet. And, until I know with 100% certainty that my 2 year old son is not also allergic, I keep one of those new, very convenient, single dosage Benadryl spoons in his diaper bag. Wish those had been available when Abigail was a toddler. Back then I had to carry a sticky bottle and a dosage cup.

At a recent visit to Duke, we got a new prescription for the adult EpiPens. At 47 pounds, Abigail is right on the edge for the weight requirements. It's still recommended that she carry two pens. Evidently, 35% of reactions require a second injection. It's even possible to have a secondary reaction an hour or so after the first. The Center for Anaphylactic Support provides some other good information as well as offers a free EpiPen expiration date reminder service and a $5.00 EpiPen rebate.

I ran into a mom the other day at church whose daughter recently finished the clinical trial at Duke using peanut flour. The daughter is now eating peanuts daily to maintain her tolerance. How exciting! Anyway, the mom didn't have EpiPens in her purse and she said it felt really weird. I just pray that I have that problem too!!


Julie Redfern said...

I had to practice on an orange too but it was when I was going to be giving myself allergy shots.

Gabrielle (aka Peanut Free Mama) said...

glad I found your site! Looking forward to following you on your journey - who knows, maybe my little one may get a chance someday at a clinical trial!


Anonymous said...

this is the perfect sight for my research! i too have a peanut allergie and i was invited to do a presentation about this is my gt class! thank the lord for caring moms!

Mom with a Mission said...

Thanks so much for posting your comment! It means a lot when I hear how much my research helps others. Makes all the time I spend worthwhile! Good luck with your presentation.