So the calendar is about to turn to May. Each year for the last eleven, the beginning of this new month of spring has been coloured with one of the worst memories of my life. You might think that this would be the memory of my father being terminally ill with Stage IV lung cancer and that really did suck, but that wasn’t the worst thing about the month of May. Nope this had to do with these:
Look pretty innocent you say? Seems like a healthy snack food choice right? I’m with ya – I thought so too. Until the shocking reality of anaphylactic shock dropped right into our lives.
Now, I was the kind of mother who held a lot of stock in good nutrition. As my kids say, I believed in trying “that weird healthy crap”. No dunkaroos for this mom. Not that I personally have anything against those yummy looking snack foods – except that they are full of sugar, additives, and zero nutritive value. Now a pine nut? Now that is a good snack food. Would it really kill you to try it? Well, yes actually, it might.
My little man was five at the time and joined me in trying a couple of these little beauties on a lovely spring day after school. When, within the blink of an eye, he rounded his way back into the kitchen retching and looking very odd I may have impatiently said something like, “if you don’t prefer them just spit them out.” Because I am empathetic and attentive and all.
But this was like nothing I’d ever seen before. His frantically repeated, “something’s wrong with me” was the soundtrack of his body progressing rapidly through the signs of anaphylaxis. Swelling lips, tongue, face, reddening of the skin, wheezing, vomiting, and eventually losing his ability to speak and to stay conscious. Somewhere in there I managed to call 911. At some point, my brain realized that we were in serious trouble, and when he went limp in my arms and lost control of his bodily functions the reality that he might be dying hit me full force. Somehow I managed to send our daughter out to wait for the firefighters – a part of me aware that I was on the brink of hysteria and wanting to keep her from the trauma of witnessing what seemed about to happen. At that moment, I prayed the most fervent prayer of my life: “God I can do a lot of things but I cannot lose this child. Please”. As the plea left my lips the boot of the first firefighter crossed the threshold of our door and I offered that unresponsive little body into the hands of help. The reel of that time from pine nut to paramedic plays in my mind in slow motion – the longest seven minutes of my life.
We were rushed to the hospital where things played out like something from ER. Only I think they cast the mother role poorly. Personally, I could have done without. As we burst through the trauma/resuscitation room doors and the doctor wrote information on a bedsheet as the paramedics updated him and he simultaneously barked orders, part of me wanted to chime in “Stat!” cuz that seemed important right?
Watching my little boy come back to me as each symptom subsided in almost the exact reverse order in which it had appeared was indescribable. Eleven years later I still look at him some days and am filled with gratitude that we all lived through the shock.
PS. I should have linked you to more information and support. Go to Anaphylaxis Canada to learn more.