Take the Kids… to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh #TaketheKids

We’re just kidding. We hope that you never have any reason to take your kids to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh or any other hospital or express care or doctor for any serious reason, but I do want to tell you about our scary adventure yesterday and the great care we received at the world class facility.

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Let me start by telling you what happened.

My daughter, Gabriella, turned 13 months old yesterday. While eating her lunch at school, she had an allergic reaction to something she ate (suspects are cinnamon, soy and egg). Her diligent and super-observant teacher, Ms Jessica, promptly called me when she began to break out in hives on her face. We decided to monitor her for a half hour, and see what happened. This was the first picture Ms Jessica took of Gabriella prior to calling me.

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Well, just a few minutes later she called back indicating it was looking more serious, and she was swelling on her face. In between those two calls, I had reached out to my pediatrician’s office. Because my son has a severe egg allergy, they wanted me to get her to CHoP for evaluation immediately. The problem was, I work 30 minutes away from my kids’ school, and that is about 30-40 minutes from CHoP. So, the pediatrician suggested I request an ambulance. I’m glad we did. She didn’t go into anaphylactic shock or anything, but her condition did worsen. The paramedics kept a watchful eye on her during transport (I made it in time to ride with her, thankfully!) until arriving at the hospital, and after some testing, observation, and medication, we were on our way home.

I was not speaking in hyperbole when I said Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a world class facility; it truly is an amazing place with thoughtful amenities for children and families. I have heard so many stories from families that have had to (unfortunately) spend extended time in its facilities. The Hospital is so friendly and inviting for kids and families- with carefully thought out decorations and interactive areas while you wait. The rooms are affixed with TVs playing the most popular children’s television programs and movies (including Moana! Thank you, we’ve missed that since it popped off of Netflix earlier this year) as well as things for the adults. The cafeteria is 24 hours and has so many varieties of food choices that would make it seem like you never needed to eat the same thing twice on an extended stay. The Starbucks… well, let’s just say it does exactly what a Starbucks should do.

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The rooms outside of the ER are decorated with beautiful designs and colors; the nurseries and playrooms throughout the building have the perfect toys and items to comfort a sick or ailing child. The entire place is so warm and inviting.

One thing that didn’t affect me this visit, but did on a previous visit, is a lack of toilets for the 2-5 year old-ish age group. Unless you happen to arrive at the hospital with a travel size toilet – and honestly, who is heading to the ER with a travel size toilet – your new or early toilet trained kiddos only have the option of using adult sized toilets. I find that incredibly frustrating in a CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL. When my son was newly potty trained right before he turned two, and we were there on an emergency visit, I was so stressed because we didn’t carry diapers anymore and I couldn’t exactly get him to sit on a big toilet without being terrified. He was also too young to know how to stand and pee, so I just tried to get us out of there as fast as possible and ask everyone I could find if they had child size toilets. They didn’t.

Let’s talk about anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an acute allergic reaction to an allergen to which the body has become hypersensitive. Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life threatening allergic reaction. It is different than a normal reaction in that your blood pressure, your airways narrow (blocking breathing), you may have a rapid or weak pulse, a skin rash, nausea and vomiting. Common triggers include certain foods (most common are peanuts, milk, nuts, fish and shellfish), some medications, insect venom and latex.

Anaphylaxis symptoms usually pop up within second or minutes of contact or consumption of the allergen. Signs and symptoms can include skin reactions (hives, itching, pale skin), low blood pressure, swollen tongue or throat, dizziness or fainting, etc…

DISCLAIMER: NOTHING HEREIN IS INTENDED TO BE CONSTRUED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. THE FOLLOWING STEPS WERE SUGGESTED BY OUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS AND WERE WHAT WERE SUGGESTED TO DO SHOULD AN ANAPHYLAXIS REACTION OCCUR AGAIN. PLEASE CONSULT WITH YOUR INDIVIDUAL CARETAKER FOR THE BEST STEPS FOR YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONES.

It is critical to seek emergency medical help if you or someone you’re with has a severe allergic reaction. Do not wait. If someone has an EpiPen or Auvi-Q epinephrine injector, administer it right away. In the absence of that, an antihistamine could also be helpful.

Unfortunately, I now have two kiddos with anaphylaxis reactions to allergens. It’s curious as to why; we should get some answers as to the precise cause of Gabriella’s reaction when we get some blood work back. I hope that this post, at a minimum, can help someone should they or someone they know experience anaphylaxis!

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