In my case, significant life experiences usually come in the way of waxing philosophical with a drag queen or tuning into the song lyrics my 8 year old writes about an impoverished baseball player named Selog. In my 36 years, I have been fortunate to only have a handful of paltry misgivings.
I have to admit, my experience on Monday had me wanting to check on Motherhood severance packages. The age-old adage, “____ (write your chosen Divinity of choice here) won’t give you more than you can handle”, seemed like a cruel joke 3 days ago. Because who can really “handle” a potentially life threatening emergency when it comes to their 6 year old?
It was a Monday like any other. The Middle was playing outside, dangling from his favorite tree on a cinnamon bun of an October Day. It’s warmer than usual for this time of year, so he ditched his soccer jersey and was conversing with the faeries of the woodland while I tried to do the last load of pee laden Chihuahua bedding before my 2 year old awoke from her nap and we had to get The Oldest from the bus. I always feel so guilty on these days- he begs for a playdate, but those always wake my slumbering toddler. He is usually left to his own self entertainment devices, with me petering outside every 20 minutes or so to throw him a basketball or play with worms until I get distracted 2 minutes later by burning onions or beeping text messages.
As I was absently folding wash surely daydreaming about something mundane like Rumrunner cheese and truffle honey, The Middle burst in the door crying that he had been stung by a bee on his back.
This was odd. Of my 3 children, he is the heartiest. Robustly born at over 9 pounds, rarely sick, resilient and mostly tolerant to the pain of scrapes, bruises and past stings, it was not like him to cry. I was rubbing cream on the point of entry, when he turned around and looked at me with panic yelling about his itches INSIDE his body. There were no hives appearing, but I gave him Benadryl anyway. I am no stranger to allergies- my 2 year old recently grew out of her peanut allergy and my 8 year old has a pinenut allergy. My Oldest’s buddy has a bee sting allergy, so I am always Epi Pen, Auvi Q (a talking epinephrine injection), and Benadryl stocked. About 2 minutes later, it started. His eyes bulged, swelled shut and his face began bubbling. Right before my eyes.
Now, I am not calm. Neither by lineage nor by personality. There is nothing Zen or relaxed about me. My husband is often inquiring as to which degree of Italian mode I am in. But, I was steady at that moment. I have the good fortune of having a Mother who works for a pediatric office – the one where I send my kids. So within a few seconds I was patched over to Nurse Ann. I told her the situation and that I had The Oldest’s Auvi Q- she said with certainty I was to administer it and call 911 immediately.
It was such a strange moment of clarity- my boy – my boy with wild in his eyes, who scales trees-furniture-cars, who loves to fish and play with animals, who is obsessed with Medusa and mythical monsters, who drives every person of authority in his life nuts- my boy who is my only child who inevitably ends up sneaking in bed with me when his Dad is away- was before me on the couch, stripped to his underpants, his entire body covered in hives at this point- maybe 7 minutes from the initial sting. He was petrified. I was petrified pretending not to be petrified. I was going to have to administer the Auvi Q. I remember he asked if it would hurt and I truthfully answered, “yes!” as I jammed the device in his thigh. He cried out and then whimpered that he was going to go sleep. I, who knows nothing of medicine except a few inaccurate pointers I pick up on Grey’s Anatomy, figured that was a bad idea. So, it was then I went into panic mode and began yelling and called 911. (Who is going to lose consciousness with a crazy lady yelling in their face?)
5 minutes later- the police, paramedics and an ambulance arrived. I had kept him awake, I forget now what we talked about. Within seconds he was strapped onto a gurney and we were mobile. It is a surreal experience riding in an ambulance watching your child’s body distort, while a stranger fishes around for a vein and discusses whether intubation is necessary with his co-worker. Typically, I would have been in hysterics. It was an out of body experience. Wrapping his shivering body in sheets and watching him cuddle a buzzard beanie baby the paramedic had given him. I remember now he was coherent and we kept talking about the”bultures” and the mostly decomposed fox we found our “bultures” eating last week. The paramedics were amazing- they kept telling me allergy calls are the worst, but thanks to his big brother’s Auvi Q we were going to be ok. I was trying to comfort him and at the same time get in touch with my husband, my Dad, any neighbor to get The Oldest off the bus, the school secretary, you name it.
A small sigh of relief came when we got to the ER and he was immediately hooked up to a cocktail of antihistimines and steroids. And of course Sponge Bob was on the little TV’s, so all was well in his world. (Especially when Dad showed up with a hospital hotdog and fries. Can I get a collective yum-o?)
A huge kudos to not only the amazing paramedics, (thanks for caring for my dogs and my sleeping baby), but the awesome ER at Chester County Hospital (although we are still waiting to wake up with pneumonia from the neighbor who was hacking all over our screen). While we waited in the ER for a few hours for him to be observed, I was amazed that his Kindergarten teacher, the school secretary and the school principal kept checking in. Our neighbors, including one who works at Chester County Hospital and had fetched The Oldest from the bus stop, also kept in touch.
I don’t know what the next few months will bring for him. Or for me. I have to worry about playgrounds, field trips, sports events, creek hikes, friends’ houses, any time he is out of my hands. Did I mention he loves the outdoors? Did I mention I have anxiety issues? We both have to have Auvi Q devices on us at all times. I am only comforted by the fact that when he sees an allergist in a month, regular allergy shots may reduce his risk of reaction.
I honestly didn’t think it would take so long for me to be in an ambulance on my way to the ER as a Mother, for a broken limb or a soccer injury – I just didn’t think it would be for an anaphalaxis reaction to a bee sting. I am so grateful that he woke up this morning, cleared of his hives. I spent the wee hours of Tuesday morning researching “The First Frost”, praying for the cyclical deaths of the stingers until we can start his allergy shots. Just a small little arthropod…whew. Whew.