2 weeks, 2 ambulances in 2 countries :(

Posted on: Mon, 01/19/2004 - 9:06pm
helenmc's picture
Joined: 05/01/2002 - 09:00

It now two days after arriving home Sunday from 3 weeks touring in New Zealand.

We mostly had a great time, but I am feeling a bit shell shocked today as I had to administer an EpiPen to Helen on the last plane we flew on (a reasonably small Dash-8 communter turbo prop, for what its worth) when we were about 6 minutes out of Canberra.

We also had an 'episode' 2 weeks ago 30 minutes drive out of a small town called Hokitika on the west coast of the South Island of NZ. We raced back to town after calling 111 (NZ's 911 or 000) and met an ambulance at the town sqaure clock [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

That was a real reaction, from salt and vinegar chips. They are safe here, and Helen didnlt check the packet beofre eating them in NZ. They made her mouth feel "funny" and she read the label closely: "...and will contain traces of peanuts,...". A stupid mistake to take a comfort zone to another country, but I think an understandable one.

I feel so rung out - Helen's OK and has bounced back from it all reasonably well.

Sunday's event was actually a panic attack, which looks and feels like anaphylaxis (difficulty breathing, hot/cold feelings, tingling and her fingers eventualy went numb, which was when I jabbed her)...

I'd say her system could detect peanutty smells on the plane (they weren't served as it was a morning flight, but there would be plenty of residue) and went into overdrive. Or maybe its just a purely psychological event (that she has no awareness or contol over) associated with flying, after the real anaphylaxis on the way back from the US two years ago.

Paramedics met us on the tarmac and took her away, but they could see it was panic and not anaphylaxis straight away - her fingers were bunched up tight (she couldn't move them) and apparently that's the classic sign. They said for me to get our bags and meet them in front of the terminal, as there was no rush. In the mean time they were pretty brutal to her - telling her there was nothing wrong (not to be mean, they wanted her to genuinely believe it so she'd calm down and get better). They were really polite to me [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Eventually she'd calmed down and we went home (they offered a ride to hospital, but its always so noisy and I thought it would good for her to get some sleep).

The aircraft crew were fantastic, and the pilots really threw the plane around to get it down quickly. And the airline actually called at about 8.00 Sunday night to see how she was, which I thought was lovely. She feels so embarasssed over it all, but it really wasn't something she set out to do or had any control over.

We visited our GP today and see if she can find a way to stay calm on planes (either through medication or hypnosis or whatever). We got a referall to see a psycharist in two weeks time. We're hoping to use a mixture of counselling/meditation/hypnosis/whatever and maybe drugs to resolve the problem, but not for her to have to use drugs everyday - maybe just before flying?

The rotten part of it she loves the travel and flying part of flying, and has a ticket to Washington & San Francisco in March. We just have to convince her sub conscious to like being on planes!

Sorry to go on, but it's nice to write to you guys who've been here before. Its so nice to be home where we feel comfortable and safe - but its still hard to fall asleep at night [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

Geoff (Helen's hubby)

(edited for typos)

[This message has been edited by helenmc (edited January 20, 2004).]

Posted on: Mon, 01/19/2004 - 9:17pm
Sandra Y's picture
Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

I use Xanax when flying. Lots of people use them for fear of flying. Xanax is an anti-anxiety drug and can be very habit-forming, but my MD gives me a prescription for a small number of the pills just before a flight. A friend of mine uses them before speaking to a large audience (don't know how she stays awake, since they make most people feel sleepy). Good luck to both of you.

Posted on: Mon, 01/19/2004 - 9:37pm
StaceyK's picture
Joined: 05/06/2003 - 09:00

My favorite Rx for speaking in front of large crowds is Inderal! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Just had to throw that in...

Posted on: Mon, 01/19/2004 - 11:35pm
momma2boys's picture
Joined: 03/14/2003 - 09:00

Geoff & Helen, so sorry to hear of your difficulties while traveling [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] .
Helen, please dont feel embarassed. Most people would never fly again in your situation. I think you're pretty brave.
Geoff, you did a great job in the situation! Helen is lucky to have you.
I hope aside from that, you had a good time. My dh really wants to go to New Zealand.
Hang in there!

Posted on: Tue, 01/20/2004 - 3:29am
darthcleo's picture
Joined: 11/08/2000 - 09:00

I once mistook a panic attack for anaphylaxis too.
When my son was born, I had a csection, and the hospital mistakinly used iodine (*my* allergen) even though it stated everywhere that I was allergic to it.
Fast forward a few years. I have to go back to the hospital for some gyn testing, and they are inserting a liquid inside me. I stated I don't know how many times not to use iodine, but there was very little trust there. All went well, and I left for home.
In the car, I had to break fast and my insides hurt. My first reflex was oh oh!!!!
Within 2 minutes I couldn't breathe. Luckily I was in front of where my husband works, so I parked and called him on my cell phone. He brought me back to hospital. Well, it was a panick attack.
Man, it's freakingly close to anaphylaxis, which I didn't know at the time. So I totally understand what you both went through!
Also, I'm in another country right now (USA) and yes, it's hard not to bring the comfort zones over the border. Sooo tempting.. Same products, often same packages.. Yet the danger is different.

Posted on: Tue, 01/20/2004 - 9:31am
Going Nuts's picture
Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

Geoff & Helen,
I'm so sorry your trip was marred by these experiences! Geoff, you are a real catch - so nurturing and kind. Helen, you are a brave woman to keep flying. I think you have a classic case of post-traumatic stress syndrome - perfectly understandable.
BTW, I'm a white-knuckle flyer and occasionally rely on 1/2 a Dramamine. I don't need it for motion sickness (not usually, anyway) but it works as a great tanquilizer. It does make me groggy, not enough to actually fall asleep but very tired.
I'm sure you will find a solution since you love travelling so much. I'm glad you're home safe and sound.

Posted on: Tue, 01/20/2004 - 11:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Geoff, that's twice now I've seen my reactions through my husband's eyes, both times by your words.
Helen, I've also had anxiety attacks that were so much like anaphylaxis I actually went to the hospital. And it always happened shortly after I had a real ana. reaction. I think it takes a while for our minds to realize that our body is no longer in imminent danger, and anything can set it off - like an odour.
Hope your feeling better now, with feet up and a cup 'o tea (or whatever it is you chose to drink. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 01/20/2004 - 1:56pm
mae's picture
Joined: 07/12/2002 - 09:00

helen and geoff - wow! what a trip-- hope things have calmed down for you. Sorry to hear about the reaction(s) - scary! A friend of ours has had the anxiety attack (she is PA) which seems like anaphylaxis, too.
We are flying next week and I'm nervous for DS....
Hope the rest of the trip was good

Posted on: Tue, 01/20/2004 - 2:22pm
Jana R's picture
Joined: 02/09/1999 - 09:00

Geoff & Helen - I'm so sorry that this happened. I'm really glad you have each other. Take care and press on!

Posted on: Wed, 01/21/2004 - 1:04pm
helenmc's picture
Joined: 05/01/2002 - 09:00

Thanks everyone. Work sent me home yesterday for a few days "you look awful"! I felt awful too, and hadn;t sleot for a few nights. I'm sure you've all been there too. I've brought a laptop home with me and can do some work from here, and not worry so much about Helen (irrational I know, but I am so jumpy right now). Hel is still on summer holidays from school, and doesn't go back until next Tuesday.
We'e going to see a counselling service tomorrow (my work have a contract with them and we can go for free).
I think I feel bad enough to ask for some help to get through it. I'd prefer to just be coping fine with it all but I am not. I think I'm taking the after effects harder than Helen...and this morning she showed me the bruise I made on her leg with the Epi!

Posted on: Wed, 01/21/2004 - 2:16pm
nikky's picture
Joined: 11/14/2000 - 09:00

Wow...all I have to say here is....I sure hope my ds finds a wife who so totally understands his allergy and keeps him safe and cares for him as you do for helen, geoff!
SOOO sorry this happened to you, Helen. Hope all is getting back to normal for you both now. We haven't braved a plane yet so I can totally relate with how Helen feels.
Take care guys! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]


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