E.’s Kryptonite

On Wendesday night Grandpa and his sister, E.’s great-great-aunt Dorothy, took us out to dinner. I didn’t have a bottle of breastmilk ready to take along and so I decided to mix up a bottle of formula (using one of the many sample cans they gave me at the hospital) and take it with me for E.

After we settled into our booth at the restaurant E. seemed hungry and so I gave him the bottle and he drank the whole thing. Then, his face turned quite red and he threw up the entire contents of the bottle (my apologies to the wait staff at Sweet Tomatoes). His nose and mouth started dripping mucous and drool and he was rubbing and scratching his face vigorously.

Two and a half hours later we were checking him into the hospital for overnight observation.

Yes, just like Superman, E. has an near-fatal weakness. It turns out that

Since we wouldn’t all fit in one car, N. had driven Grandpa and Aunt Dorothy to the restaurant and I had driven E. in my car. After he threw up, E. seemed to feel a little better but was still flushed and itchy. I decided to leave the restaurant early and take him home. I got E. home and gave him some Benadryl, nursed him for a little bit, and put him to bed. He seemed really tired but still itchy. I called our pediatrician’s after hours clinic and spoke to a nurse. She was mystified about E.’s reaction to the formula; she hadn’t heard of anything like it. But she said it didn’t sound like it was necessary to bring E. into the clinic since he wasn’t having trouble breathing.

While I was on the phone with the nurse, I heard E. wake up and start crying. When I went to go check on him he was on his tummy in a pool of vomit and looked worse. (I have to confess that at this point I started to freak out a little). I picked him up and he threw up all over me. I realized that he really needed to go to the doctor. So I quickly changed him out of his vomit-soaked pajamas (noting that his legs and arms were now a bright solid red color), changed my own shirt, threw some things for him into my bag, and called the clinic to let them know we were coming in. N. had forgotten to take his cell phone with him and I didn’t have a way of getting a hold of him and so I just left him a note.

At this point E. was super tired and tried his best to fall asleep on the car ride to the clinic while I tried my best to drive there as fast as safely possible. As I was driving N. called and I told him what was going on. When we got to the clinic we saw the physician’s assistant and she said that it looked like E. had had an anaphylactic allergic reaction and that she was going to have the doctor who was on call come in and examine him.

When the doctor arrived he looked E. over and asked me if E. had possibly eaten any food at the restaurant that was out of the ordinary, like seafood. I told him that the only thing E. had eaten all day was breastmilk except for the one bottle of formula.

The doctor said that the danger with serious allergic reactions like the one E. had was that sometimes there is a secondary reaction in about 6 or 8 hours that can be as bad or worse than the original reaction. So the doctor wanted to give E. a shot of Epinephrine to stop the current reaction and than have E. admitted to the hospital to be put on IV fluids and monitored overnight. When the doctor told me this I felt overwhelmed–IV fluids? Overnight hospitalization? My poor baby boy! Just then N. and Grandpa showed up, which I was grateful for.

The nurse gave E. a shot of Epinephrine and almost immediately E.’s color started to clear up. The doctor told us to take E. to the hospital (which is only a block away from the clinic) and go straight up to the pediatric ward and the nurses there would be expecting us. We went over and as soon as the nurses saw us they started putting on their gloves and hustling to get an IV into E. so they could give him fluids.

It took them almost half an hour and many, many needle jabs to get the IV started. It was so hard on E. and really hard to watch. They needed me to fill out some paperwork and so I gratefully left N. with E. while the nurses were sticking him but I could hear E. screaming all the way down the hall. After I was done with the paperwork they STILL hadn’t gotten the IV started and so I went to go comfort E. It was pretty heartbreaking; E. was exhausted and was trying his best to go to sleep. His eyes kept fluttering close and then flying open every time they jabbed him. It took 3 nurses to hold him steady during all this time: they said that E. was really strong for his age. (They also all mentioned that they liked his hair.)

Anyway, things settled down after the IV was in and they put him in a room and hooked him up to a bunch of heart and respiratory monitors. It was a little hard to get the cords out of the way while I nursed him, but I fed E. and then put him in the hospital crib and he fell asleep right away.

There was only one adult bed in the room and things seemed to be under control and so I sent N. and Grandpa home. I filled out some more paperwork and then around 2am I went to sleep. The nurses popped into the room to check on him every couple of hours and changed his IV a few times.

In the morning N. came by and brought a change of clothes for me and a few other things. While N. was there the doctor came by to check on E. The doctor said E.’s allergic reaction was pretty mysterious. They didn’t know if he’s allergic to cow’s milk or to something specific in Similac. A cow’s milk allergy would be unusual since I eat a lot of dairy and the proteins that trigger cow’s milk allergies pass into breast milk. Either way, E. needs to see a pediatric allergist so it can get sorted out. I need to call the allergist they recommended later today to get an appointment. It will probably be a few months before we can be seen, though.

The doctor also proscribed Epipens for E. so we can keep one with us just in case he has another serious reaction. On the way home I picked them up from the pharmacy. (I like how “Jr” is in a fun font. Cutest needle ever!)

Until we get his allergy figured out, E. (obviously) can’t have any formula. I was planning on breastfeeding E. until he turned one anyway, but I have to admit that now that formula simply isn’t an option I’m feeling a bit more pressure.

E. seems to have made a full recovery, other than being a little tired from the lack of sleep. After we got home from the hospital yesterday he took a nap and when he woke up he enjoyed bopping around in his jumper.

And for something completely different:

Good news! Sometime during all of the hoopla E.’s tooth finally broke through.

…so there’s that.

4 thoughts on “E.’s Kryptonite”

  1. I figured E. must have food allergies because of his hives and eczema. I really wish doctors would be more proactive about identifying infants with early signs of food allergies, so parents could be spared these terrifying episodes. My son had an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts and is also allergic to sesame, and he always carries epipens with him, everywhere he goes.

    Good thing you knew to get him in to the doctor! The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is a good source of news and information about severe food allergies, if you're interested.

    Glad he's feeling better, and looking as cute as ever in that photo.

  2. Thanks for the kind wishes, everyone. E. is happily back to normal now.

    Sandra, I think I'm going to check out the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network; thanks for the tip. It seems like it would be difficult to deal with a peanut allergy, but having a sesame allergy while living in Korea must be really hard sometimes!

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