FOOD ALLERGIES: How To Save Your Life - A True Story in Five Parts
Hives beneath the surface of the skin - Angioedema!
Terror on the highway
My first warning that something was terribly wrong hit as I raced south on I-75 at 75 miles an hour.
July 30, 2000: Mother and I were driving back to Florida after a family reunion at our cabin in the North Georgia mountains. At a rest stop I bought a soft drink from a vending machine and gave mom some in a paper cup. Then she napped in the back while Cookie dog dozed in the front.
I sipped from the can. Something zinged the inside of my mouth or the edge of my tongue. Had a bee flown into the can?
I lowered the sun visor, stuck out my tongue. It was swelling! Within five minutes it ballooned to three times its size. I was in big trouble! I spotted a big “H” at the Tifton exit, swerved off the expressway and followed the signs to the hospital.
I jumped out and said to groggy mom, “Mah, doh wubby, w’ere ah th hopitah emerthenthy rooh, I hah ah allergih reathuh ih mah tonh!” Translation: “Mom, don’t worry, we’re at the hospital emergency room, I have an allergic reaction in my tongue!”
I raced into the emergency room, babbled to the receptionist, and was whirled into their care facility. Within minutes they’d injected cortisone and epinephrine into my assorted limbs. Immediately the swelling stopped spreading. One nurse told mother what was happening.
Mom and Cookie sat in the air conditioned car at the emergency room driveup area three hours. Every so often another doctor would wander into my room, say, “Let me see that tongue.” I’d stick my tongue out, the doctor would say, “OOOH, that’s a B-I-I-G tongue!” and depart. Imagine lying on an emergency room gurney unable to swallow or make spit. Having to hold your mouth wide open to breathe! After two hours and another shot of epinephrine my tongue began to go down; another 30 or 40 minutes and I was discharged.
Hospital personnel obtained a room for us at a nearby motel with instructions to return immediately if my tongue swelled again. As we left the next morning, the desk clerk said, “Oh, you’re the lady with the big tongue.” My fame had preceded me!
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