Fear of Using an EpiPen???

Posted on: Mon, 11/06/2000 - 12:27pm
AmyR's picture
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Does anyone else have a fear of using an EpiPen? I, thankfully, have never had to use one, but I am fearful that I will panic if I ever need to. I am worried that I won't administer it corectly or that I'll freak out if I need to use it. Will I be able to remain calm in the heat of the moment? Will I know when to use it? If someone else is in charge, will they be able to use it effectively? These are some of the thoughts that run through my head.

I read elsewhere on this site to practice with oranges when the EpiPens expire. This is a great idea and I plan to do this. Hopefully this will ease my fear of using one. I just worry that I'll panic if the need arises. A few weeks ago, my nanny called me to tell me my son was having a reaction. This was his first real reaction since his first one (first reaction only had hives on his neck). I panicked. I tried to stay calm and talk to my nanny. I then abandoned my shopping cart and ran to my car. I was frightened at the thought of having my nanny use the EpiPen even though she is very reliable. Since I wasn't home to assess the situation, I didn't know whether I should tell her to use the EpiPen or not. I won't get into the whole story of what happened again (it's posted under stories/reactions) but it turns out we did not use the EpiPen and my son's reaction was only mild. The incident was a good dry run though. Both my nanny and I realized that we didn't handle the situation as well as we could have.

I've always wondered whether I will be calm and in control during a reaction and after what happened a few weeks ago, I am a little more fearful of how I'll behave. In general, I don't handle tense or scary situations well.

Does anyone else have these concerns? Also, can anyone share their experiences who have actually had to use the EpiPen? Any input would be appreciated.

Posted on: Mon, 11/06/2000 - 12:57pm
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Amy, Hi. I too feel apprehensive about using the epi-pen. My son is 2 1/2 and I have never needed to use it. I have 2 expired pens and I plan on using them on an orange soon. As I have stated in other posts, my son has hives almost every day. He has had reactions that I can never pin point. There have been a few incidents that I now wonder if I should have used the epi-pen, especially recently when he had milk (which he is also allergic to.) I've been dealing with his allergies for a year and a half now and I didn't realize until after his last reaction that drooling is also a symptom of anaphalactic reaction (which he was doing.) I was about a minute from calling 911 and administering the pen when he stopped the "full-blown reaction". He still had hives and sneezing for a while. Back to your question...I too hope I will be able to give him a shot if I need to. I'm a little nervous because I didn't think he needed it for his last reaction, and now looking back, I think it might have helped. I'm just so thankful he's okay. Sorry this is so long!
Colleen

Posted on: Mon, 11/06/2000 - 1:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Amy, I am also fearful of the actual administering of the Epi-pen. When Jesse had his 2nd anaphylactic reaction, I gave the Epi-pen to my husband to give to him. I had always been disgusted by mothers in emergency rooms who left their children alone when they were being IV'd etc. because "they couldn't deal with it" and yet, that night, I couldn't deal with it.
However, I do plan to practice on an orange and because of the heavy weight of guilt I have accompanying the last reaction, I am hopeful that I will be okay enough to give him the shot. I think, if you actually at least know what you're supposed to do with it (which you'll get by practicing on an orange) that might be half the battle right there. Or, I'm hoping that's the case anyway.
Also, I know that when Jesse was in a pre-school class the young woman (late teens maybe) who was running the class admitted that she was scared to use the Epi-pen and Jesse's teacher of both last year and this year admitted to a friend of mine that she was scared to death. I understand completely other people being scared, especially when we, the parents, are.
I can't even think of anything else that we would have to deal with re our children's health that comes close to this, but again, for some reason, I think I'll be okay when/if the time comes next time and I don't want to have to feel dependent on his father for this. Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Mon, 11/06/2000 - 11:45pm
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Joined: 10/08/2006 - 09:00

My mother accompanied me to the allergist's office and they gave us an Epi trainer to try. My mother used the trainer no problem but when it came my turn, I just couldn't do it even though I knew it was a trainer and there wasn't any needle. They ended up sending the trainer home with me to practice with.

Posted on: Mon, 11/06/2000 - 11:51pm
AmyR's picture
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Joined: 09/26/2000 - 09:00

Good point Heather. I actually have an EpiPen trainer. I am o.k. using this because I'm not wrapped up in the emotions when trying it.
For me, I just worry that I'll panic in a crisis situation. I can see myself as either rising to the occassion or freezing. I guess part of what I'm wondering is how it actually feels being in the situation of needing to use the EpiPen. Do things progress so quickly that it feels like a crisis or is there time to relax, take a deep breath and think about what is happening. Maybe the answer is that it depends on the situation. Do some anaphaylatic reactions go slower and others more quickly?

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 12:21am
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Joined: 11/01/2000 - 09:00

As Cindy will know from reading a few of my recent posts - I'm a recently-diagnosed PA/ NA adult in my 40's [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] and I carry the EpiPen. I have not had to use it, because I only got one after the last (3rd) reaction and have avoided nuts / nut products / sesame in a *paranoid* way all this year since then. So far, so good. I thought I'd have no problem using it, but bought a trainer anyway. Having demonstrated it quite a few times to others, I feel more comfortable, but still not 100% sure what I'd do at the moment of truth. At least it would be *me* injecting *myself* and not having the worry of having to do it to someone else (adult *or* child). That must be quite some responsibility... People have told me that using the trainer *did* help them at least grasp *some* of the importance behing the EpiPen...
"Good Luck", is all I can say, until such time as I have actually had to use it - which I sincerely *hope* I don't have to do.

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 1:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Amy, your post got me thinking. I think I should get a trainer because then I could at least practice on my son.
I know that with his last reaction (2nd anaphylactic one), it took about 20 minutes for it to be full blown anaphylaxis, each symptom developing after the other one, but I wouldn't want him to go through that again.
And, he almost died. I want to be able to give him the Epi-pen as soon as I know he needs it, without hesitation. Also, because of his last reaction, I'm not clear that I'll have as much time the next time.
From my experience only, you do have a small window of time to brace yourself to do this, but I would say it's a very small window and that you should be prepared to do it right away.
I have the two of them in the bottom of my purse at all times and I hope I never have to use them, that I just simply keep replacing them when they expire. But, definitely after reading your posts, I would like a trainer.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 1:18am
AmyR's picture
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Cindy,
Thanks for the info. In your son's case, were you aware that he was going downhill over the 20 minute period? Can you literally see things progress? Did you just sit and wait?
I know this has nothing to do with my original post but what are the EpiPens stored in that are in your pocketbook? I have one in my pocketbook just stored in the plastic container that it came in. I've wondered if I should get an epimate or something like that to protect it my my wallet and everything else that ends up in my pocketbook.

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 2:13am
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DMB
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Joined: 02/22/2001 - 09:00

I have no fears of administering the epi-pen. . .but it took me quite awhile to get to this point.
We did not have the epi-pen yet when my son had his anaphylactic reaction at 18 months. Like Cindy's son, it took my son about 20 minutes for it to progress to the point where we knew we needed to take him to the emergency room for treatment (they gave him the shot there).
It's been 2 years since that time and I finally feel comfortable enough with his history of reactions to know when I need to give the epi.
Also, I highly recommend using an expired pen on an orange. I've practiced with epi-pen trainers and IMO, they don't even compare to how easy the real epi works. I know that it will be completely different when we're dealing with a real reaction, but at least now I know that you don't have to push so hard with the real epi to trigger the release mechanism as you do with the trainer. At least that is my experience. Using a real one really set my mind at ease.
I am still very worried about others using the epi-pen. If it's taken me this long to feel comfortable with this allergy that I deal with everyday, how can I expect other people to feel comfortable with it. The only person I trust using the epi-pen is my sister and that's because she's a registered nurse and deals with these things daily at work. I really am worried about him going to school. Right now he's only in preschool 2 mornings a week, so it's not too big of a deal for me, but school all day--everyday--is a different story. (now I'm rambling)
Sorry this is so long, but like everything else in life. . .I think it just takes time and experience to get used to this allergy and everything that goes with it--especially the epi-pen. Deanna

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 3:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

AmyR,
We too are scared we might panic if the time comes where my daughter needs the Epi-pen, even though we know this is the best thing.
But, to reduce the "denial syndrome", like the one that accompanied her last reaction...you know...the old "It's a stomach virus" or "It won't be that bad, let's just wait a minute", we told every friend, neighbor and relative point blank that were were scared of just that...the denial. We asked them for their support in the event of a reaction. We gave them and continue to give them all the info we have. Now that they understand the severity, they have all stated they are more than willing to be there if we become panic sticken.

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 4:48am
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Joined: 10/01/2000 - 09:00

Hello everyone,
I don't want to shock anyone but, have you seen the length of the needle protruding out after administering it into an orange??? My son's fleshy part of the thigh is not that fleshy! I never administered the epi to him, even though on two occasions I should have. Anyone out there to reassure me/us?

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 5:34am
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Joined: 04/12/2002 - 09:00

We were lucky for many years and didn't have to give the Epi. Here is what happened next...
Oct. 1998- cross contamination, didn't do the epi(should have), remained calm(ignorant) and they eventually gave epi in the ER.
Sept. 2000- reacted to skin test after we left the Drs. office, didn't give the epi (should have), panicked, they gave epi back at the Drs. office.
Nov. 2000- accidently got a candy bar with almonds, gave the epi!, stayed calm, went to the ER for follow up.
It took a while but we finally got it right. I feel so much better about things now that we handled it right! The needle was long but my son was surprised that it was not very painful at all. He is very small so I pinched up his thigh a little before I injected it.

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 6:50am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, Amy, I basically sat there and watched (and argued with his father) as my son experienced every symptom of anaphylaxis. I knew THE MOMENT the pb rice krispie square touched his lips that he was "going". His lips were blue and swollen upon contact. I knew. He should have received the shot at that moment.
I have posted this in other threads throughout the board, as a way to remind myself of what I didn't do that night and what it nearly cost me. For those of you who have already read about it, you know the story, you don't have to read it again, but Amy DID ask!
Then his eyes and nose started to water. Then he developed hives, rash and began to itch. His whole body turned red (generalized flushing). His lips had already become swollen, as I say, upon contact, now his eyes, ears, face and tongue were swelling. He began to wheeze, sneeze, cough and choke ("from running around too much with exercise induced asthma" says Dad). He vomited ("from too much candy" says Dad). At this point I was finally able to convince his father that something was wrong and the Epi-pen was administered so he did not lose consciousness or go into a coma. He simply experienced every other symptom of anaphylaxis when his mother knew, full well, as soon as that square touched his lips that he was "going". I'm sorry, I will never forgive myself for that.
This happened, the last time, within a 20 minute time period. We then administered the Epi-pen (as I said above my husband did it) and we didn't know then that you went to emerg after so 20 minutes later he started to "go" again at which time we went to emerg.
As far as carrying the Epi-pens in my purse, I don't carry a lot of stuff in my purse, just my wallet and cigarettes so they're at the bottom. One is in the original plastic case that it came in and I decided to keep the second one wrapped in the bag from the pharmacist to protect it further. I never had any problem with them though in the bottom of my purse, but I don't have a lot of stuff in there.
Also, someone posted some excellent advice above, that now has me re-thinking whether I need a trainer or not. Use the real thing, as I was planning to do on an orange and see how easy it is. Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 6:58am
AmyR's picture
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Joined: 09/26/2000 - 09:00

Thanks everyone for all your posted today. It gave me a lot to think about. I am also somewhat relieved to know that I'm not the only one who's nervous about using an epipen.
Cindy, reading your post made my stomach turn. That must have been an AWFUL experience. I am so sorry. Do you think your husband kept holding off on using the epipen because he was frightened to use it or was he in denial that a full blown reaction could happen?

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 7:17am
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Joined: 03/27/2001 - 09:00

I, too am very nervous about using the Epi. The trainer is helpful. But trying the expired ones is also helpful Our school nurse recommended trying it on a raw chicken breast instead of an orange, because it is more realistic. I had the teachers at school try this. It seemed to help their understanding of the whole thing.

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 9:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Amy, if my telling of my horror story makes people's stomachs turn enough that they "get it" then it's worth telling, I guess. I will NEVER, although I have been told otherwise to, forgive myself for that. But, neither my son or my husband will know that. I should have given him the Epi-pen the minute his lips turned blue and were swollen but I
argued with this man for 20 minutes while we literally watched our child dying in front of us.
My husband since that time has definitely "got it", but it had to take him witnessing our child in full anaphylactic shock to get it. He was definitely in denial. Jesse's first reaction was mild and although we did take him to emerg, his hives had almost disappeared by then. His 2nd reaction, his father was not here. He would question me about it from time-to-time. Are you sure he's really allergic, etc. Since then, no, and he has been very diligent in reading labels, providing friends with information, etc. But, it took that.
No, he was not afraid at all of using the Epi-pen. Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 10:48am
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My son's first epi-pen expires next month. I got his new one today and asked the pharmacist that he give me one that won't expire in 6 months.
I am actually very eager to use his old one. Raw chicken is actually a very good idea. It will probably feel more realistic. I'll let you know when I use it.

Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2000 - 1:19pm
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Joined: 12/02/1999 - 09:00

Unfortunately, I had to confront my fear of using the epi this afternoon. Logan is not known to have any tree nut allergies, so I reluctantly let him eat a pistachio only to have him start an anaphylactic reaction. My husband held him down while I administered the epi. I did it through his pants because I couldn't bear to actually "see" it go in his leg. Also, we were in public but that doesn't really matter to a 4 year old.
He was crying before I gave him the shot, but didn't seem to cry any harder when it actually went in. Logan is very skinny (only 30 pounds) but the needle went in fine. His leg was a little sore afterward, but by the time he went to bed it was okay.
Two months ago when he had an anaphylactic reaction to sesame seeds I couldn't bring myself to give him the epi and went to the hospital instead. The allergist later told me that statistically the only thing that decreases the risk of death is to immediately use the epi. She said going straight to the hospital does not lessen the possibility of death (!) only how fast the epi is administered. Because she told me that, I was able to "suck it up" and give him the epi.
When we got to the hospital, each of the people who we dealt with was suprised that I had actually been "brave" enough to give him the epi and then the ER doctor said "Congratulations, you saved him."
Rebekah
P.S. Logan is fine now except for a few hives on his face and a touch of asthma.

Posted on: Wed, 11/08/2000 - 4:44am
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I feel so bad for you! Hearing of reactions is so important to all of us, but so sad too. I'm glad everyone is doing okay.
When Philip was diagnosed as PA his allergist told me to put him on a "no nut" diet until he is at least 5 yrs. old. and then introduce one variety slowly at a time to see any reactions. He told me that PA kids tend to be tree nut allergic too. Sometimes the tree nut allergy gets grown out of so I suspect that is what the waiting period is for. I'm still not sure if I'll be comfortable giving him nuts or if I'll just wait until he gets a blood test and have them check for tree nuts too.
Thank goodness your son is okay - and yes congratulations on using the epipen!

Posted on: Wed, 11/08/2000 - 11:37am
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Rebekahc,
I was so sorry to hear about Logan's reaction and what you went through. I'm glad to hear he is doing better now. You must be so proud of yourself for administering the epipen this time, especially with what the ER doctor told you.
Your post really helped me. You were lucky to have learned from Logan's first reaction that you need to "suck it up" and use the epi. I know feel like I can leverage off your two experiences and tell myself to just do it if the need arises. Thanks for your story.

Posted on: Wed, 11/08/2000 - 11:49am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Rebekahc, I was really sad to hear of Logan's reaction to-day and the fact that you had to use the Epi-pen. But, you should be very proud of yourself and feel even better that you have probably given us the insight to "suck it up" and get on with it when it comes to dealing with the life of our child. I do hope Logan, you, and your family are okay. I was actually surprised that you were composed enough to be able to post to-day. Kudos, Rebekahc! Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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