Yesterday was the day that we got THAT phone call, the one that all allergy parents dread, the one to tell you that your child has had an allergic reaction.
It was lunchtime and I was at work, I was halfway through my sandwich when my boyfriend called to ask if Nursery had called me, I checked my phone, they hadn’t. He said they had called him to tell him that Anya had eaten the wrong custard at lunchtime, Nursery had given her the 5ml dose of anti-histamine, but as it had never happened in the 3 plus years she has been there they really didn’t know what to do next.
I gave them a call back, they are not legally allowed to give a second dose before the 4 hours was up as per the doctors prescription, so could do nothing for another 2 hours. They thought she was doing OK, she had no swelling of the mouth or airways, the hives had gone down quickly, she was just very itchy and was complaining of a stomach ache (but did not have the diarrhoea that she got the last time she ate a roast potato coated with milk). They thought she would be fine, but I decided to go and get her anyway so she could be more comfortable at home.
I wasn’t really prepared for what I saw at Nursery, they bought her out and her joints where her eczema is were bright red and her face looked like it was extremely sunburnt, especially under her eyes. I thought I was going to burst into tears, but I didn’t want to scare her. Apart from her appearance she was very bright and cheery, I checked her chest and she had no hives. She seemed so well that we even walked home and talked all the way. Once home I changed her clothes and she started to watch a DVD under a blanket, she said she felt hot but her skin was icy cold.
It was 2 and a half hours from when she ate the custard (only a dessert spoonful), first she went very quiet (really not like her), she started groaning in pain, she said her head was going to explode and her eyes started rolling back in her head. She was itching like crazy, I looked at her body it was covered in hives from neck to ankles. I had a quick check with the parents on the Children’s Allergy Network (CAN) Facebook Group (mega experts on reactions) and gave her a half dose of 2.5ml Chloramphenamine. The hives started to go quickly, but her hands, feet and lips started to turn blue. Her breathing was still strong and steady and there was no swelling of the face or lips. About this time my boyfriend came home and we decided to go to Accident and Emergency.
It was a slow day there and we went straight through to the Children’s Room where Anya was immediately sick at Reception, all over Daddy’s new suit (which he needed the next day for interviews). I was actually relieved, she hadn’t been to the loo since the reaction and I wanted the histamine to leave her body. She was shivering in the waiting room, so she sat covered in my cardigan, she was very quiet and not herself, it was very distressing to see. Eventually she was seen by a nurse who had freaked a little when we came in as she was wearing the same pyjamas as her own daughter, who coincidentally she had dropped off to family in our road.
We hung around for another hour and saw the doctor, she said that was nothing else we could do really, we had given the full dose of anti-histamines after the initial reaction and then a smaller dose a couple of hours later to keep away the hives. We had been warned by the CAN Group to look out for the secondary reaction. After seeing the doctor she really did improve, she wanted to play with the toys, asked for her dinner and wanted to go to the shop to get a balloon and by bedtime she was her crazy, chatty self again, much to our relief.
Anya is quite used to hospitals, doctors and nurses, what with her asthma, allergies and hip problems, so wasn’t upset in the slightest about her ordeal. We however were quite shellshocked about the whole incident. The doctor said we did exactly what we were supposed to do, so I don’t know how we would handle it in future. I will definitely be going to collect her from Nursery and will probably call an ambulance if her secondary reactions become that severe again.
I took her back to Nursery this morning to see the staff, she doesn’t usually go Wednesday to Friday. She was greeted like a conquering hero, they all hugged her and were very upset, I think the younger staff had never seen a reaction like this before and they were all very affected by it. I am thankful that they are all so well trained with allergies and asthma and kept on top of her symptoms so effectively. A lot of people have said I should make a complaint, but I won’t. It was a momentary lapse of concentration which ended badly and the mistake was realised immediately; they have accepted full responsibility and have made no attempt to hide what happened.
If this is what can happen in a small private nursery I am dreading what could happen in a school next year, but I suppose we will cross that bridge when we come to it.