We have known about Ben's allergies for months now. We are not sure of the extent of them but know since the bad experience with peas that they lean more towards the serious side. We are seeing a specialist at Mac Master university hospital next month and so we were just being cautious until then, when we would hopefully get some answers.
My parents have been looking for an older Old English Sheepdog since Buster died two years ago. To find a 2-3 year old purebred dog in this rare breed locally has been next to impossible so when we did on Sunday I wanted to jump on it. I was hoping that perhaps we could keep her...either was one of us wanted her.
Jon and I quickly got in the car with Ben and set out for a 3 hour road trip to the middle of nowhere to pick up Millie. Ben was great all the way there and we were anxious to see how the dog would act with Ben. She LOVED him. Millie couldn't get enough of him. Ben was grabbing her hair and laughing and she would lick him up asking for more. Her tongue was as big as his face and he was overjoyed at this big beautiful teddy bear slobbering all over him. It was settled and we couldn't wait to get Millie home.
Millie was very excited in the van and plunked herself down in the passenger seat up front. We thought this would be fine since I should probably protect Ben from too many kisses and it may make the drive more enjoyable the more comfortable she was.
I have never in Ben's life sat in the back with him. This was the first time I had ever done this as it is usually not possible since there is another car seat next to him during the week.
About 5 minutes down the road I noticed a few hives on Ben's face. He had not eaten anything abnormal that day so I let it go. a few minutes later I saw them spreading and welts starting to form. I told Jon to turn off the next exit to get benedryl at the drugstore ( I always carry it with me however I had switched purses that day to hold more toys for the long drive and didn't put it in my new bag). In front of my eyes Ben's left eye started to swell up. He had hives all over him now and was bright red. I could see hives forming under his eyelids and he was now hysterical. I told Jon to drive faster and looked over to see Ben screaming. He raised his head back and I will never forget this moment. Under his chin were hives on top of hives and he was blood red. I could see his lower jaw start to swell and his neck puffing out. This was the moment of my nightmares. A defining moment in my life that I have lived and relived countless times since.
Anaphalaxis was something I had read about since we heard about his higher then average risk. I knew that all it took was 1/4 teaspoon of the allergen to trigger a reaction and once the anaphalactic reaction has begun you have between 3-5 minutes to act before it can be fatal. We were in the middle of nowhere. There was not another car or piece of civilization in sight. My baby is about to stop breathing.
I screamed and saw my cell phone (sitting in the car charger, not dead in the bottom of my purse as usual). I grabbed it and called 911. Miraculously (one of many miracles that day) there was an abandoned OPP station right at the exit we were coming up too and an ambulance dispatch about 30 seconds from there. Jon was able to stay calm enough to safely get us there ( I would have driven right off the road...) In hindsight this was another miracle. There was NOTHING for miles. Just us and 2 amazing paramedics that looked like angels to me. They grabbed Ben and took his clothes off, strapped him down and hooked him up to some equipment. He was covered in wires and absolutely terrified. His reaction began to calm down almost immediately we suspect from his own adrenaline. He needed only oxygen in the ambulance and otherwise was fine by the time we got to the nearest hospital 40 minutes away.
The paramedics were so kind, they even gave us their cell number in case we got lost trying to get home when it was time ( I felt bad that Ben was wearing firefighter pajamas at the time...)One told me that we did everything right but we were very very lucky! The Doctor wanted Ben to stay to be monitored for a while and then sent us home with epi pens.
The problem was we could not take Ben home because the dog was still in the van. we suspect that Ben was allergic to something about the dog more then the dog herself such as what she had been bathed in. We could not put the 2 of them together so we had to call Jon's parents who were closest to come pick up Ben and take him home while Jon and I drove back to the breeder to bring Millie (who was a wonderful dog and laid for 4 hours in the van) back. We drove an hour back to the breeder and then another 3 hours home.
We initially thought it was the worst day of our lives but then realized that in fact it was the best. I cannot imagine terror to the degree that I felt that day. I would do anything for this child and in that moment I could do absolutely nothing. We are exceedingly grateful for the outcome and we have learned a lot. We will always be prepared now and we know the severity of what can happen to Ben if we are not careful. We will be better advocates for him and make sure that those around him really understand how important it is to be vigilant about what he is exposed to and how to use his EPI pen in a moments notice.
Ben is our world and we thank God that he is still meant to be in it.