Sunday, May 24, 2009

Reaction Watch

“Can you check on Liam? And make sure you get a response from him.”

“I kept tickling him until he batted me away.”

“Ok. That’s good.”

This is what happened last night at our house, about every 15 minutes, all night long. Liam was having a secondary reaction.

Most people are aware of what a mild allergic reaction looks like – swelling, hives, itchy skin – and then there are the more extreme symptoms of anaphylaxis, with a drop in blood pressure and difficulty in breathing that can lead to death. Liam’s reactions, like his allergy, are multiple.

If Liam eats something with nuts, we have the EpiPens – they’re always on him unless we’re at home. Thankfully we haven’t needed to use them yet. He is also allergic to trace amounts of nuts (as little as 10 parts per million (ppm) can send him into a reaction) and airborne allergic to nuts – which means he can react to peanut protein on your breath. The source of the allergy dictates how severe his reaction will be.

Yesterday our boys were in the city for their cousin’s birthday party. Since our parents and sisters are very diligent in keeping possible allergens away from Liam – all the food was “safe” – we started to look elsewhere as to what may have happened as a cause. One of their cousin’s friends had a toy whistle that our boys decided to “share” as kids will do, even after warnings from Mommy and Daddy.

Shortly after playing with the whistle, Liam’s temples started to show the blue veins underneath and his eyelids started to look as if they had blue eye shadow. That’s our first warning that he’s reacting to something. So out came the Benadryl and Liam went back out to play. The party carried on without any other incidents and when supper was over we drove back home.

Liam fell asleep almost right away in the van – which in hindsight was probably from his lowered blood pressure. He and his brothers went to bed and off to sleep, until around 9:45 pm when Liam woke up and started power-puking (another one of his reactions). Once his stomach settled and he had finished a quick bath we gave him another couple of Benadryl (since the first one had so violently worn off) and sent him back to a clean bed.

The rest of the night involved waking Liam up every 15 minutes or so to make sure that he wasn’t slipping into a coma-like sleep. I went to bed around 2 am, Krystyne battled it out until 4.

Needless to say, we’re all a little tired today.


  1. We just read about the lowered blood pressure symptom this past week - unfortunately after my son had a reaction. Our doctor did not tell us to wake him up regularly during the night. That is very interesting.
    We realized after my son's reaction that education is essential but it doesn't prepare you 100% for a reaction. I learned so much and I am simply thankful that everything turned out okay.

    Here's my post about my son's reaction: Cake Wreck

  2. We noticed that they were doing the same thing in the hospital when we had to take Liam there. Because Liam's reaction is so unique, most doctors figure he's not having a reaction, so we just ended up watching him at home and if he ever doesn't react, THEN we take him to the hospital. It's usually only if they witness Liam's secondary reaction that the nurses realize he's having a reaction - that's when they then turn off the bp monitor and run out of the room for the ER doctor.

    So we figured we'd leave the added stress of the ER out of it until it's (hopefully never) needed.