It appears E1 has a rather severe allergy to something… we suspect it’s egg. M was eating some frittata today and gave her a small taste and, within 5 minutes, she was scratching her face hard and clawing at her eyes as if to pull them right out. I was upstairs and hadn’t seen any of this. When I came down about 20 minutes later, her face had completely puffed up and she looked quite startling. Her eyes were so small and going a bit blue, as if someone had punched her both sockets, and her lips, cheeks, and jowls were completely puffed up. She was breathing normally, and could drink water, but she was coughing continuously — that familiar, distinctive cough that she always makes just before she throws up — and was at the same time absolutely beside herself and yet still lively and playing like any two-year-old.
We rang NHSDirect, who asked us a million questions to first assess that it wasn’t anaphylactic shock (if it had been, she’d have been near death within a few minutes), then put us through to a nurse named Matt, who explained that she was experiencing a severe allergy, and that we would now have to be careful to avoid whatever had set it off for the rest of her childhood at least, and possibly her life. He initially wanted us to take her to the nearest A&E department, but as that is nearly an hour away and E1 was not going into shock, he decided against it. He asked me to send M out to the chemist immediately to buy Piriton and get some in her as quickly as possible. Matt was lovely and really calmed me down while all this was going on. He told me to make sure to make an appointment with our GP to have her tested to determine what set it off.
He put in a request for a doctor to ring us as well, just to be sure. She rang within 20 minutes and felt that Matt had been correct, but was wary of allergic reactions. She also considered sending us to A&E, but then decided we ought to go to the little local hospital — which is more of a clinic really, and doesn’t have an A&E department — where we could see a doctor and just have E1 be given a once-over in person. While we were on the phone with this doctor, M gave E1 the Piriton and she immediately began coughing uncontrollably, nearly throwing it all back up again, eyes streaming, and she started sobbing. E2 was ignored through all of this and protested by screaming continuously with all her power. It felt as if the walls were closing in.
We threw ourselves — and enough gear to see us through a several-hour delay — into the car and tore up to the hospital. As they weren’t expecting us, we weren’t able to see a doctor right away, but were seen by a nurse (who could refer us to the doctor if she felt it necessary). E1 had been continually coughing the whole way in the car, but as soon as we arrived, she stopped completely and was entirely herself again, save for the puffiness in her face and her been-in-a-punchup eyes.
The nurse was satisfied that she was alright. She recommended we see the GP this week to have E1 tested, and then discharged us. As we drove off, E1 began to cough horribly again, and continued all the way home.
It’s now been about six hours, and she is much better. Her face is only slightly swollen now, and she has eaten a good dinner. She is playing and happy, as if nothing had happened, with only an occasional cough. We didn’t let her have a nap today, as we wanted to keep her under observation for the rest of the afternoon. I am very pleased, once again, that her monitor is an Angelcare and has a breathing monitor as well — I will sleep better tonight knowing that I will at least be woken up if her breathing slows in the night.
It’s been an exhausting day (M will sleep well… I suspect I will be biting my knuckles again to stay awake with E2). Between allergies and choking hazards and accidents… how do children ever survive childhood? More to the point, how do parents survive?