Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dealing With PTSD From Food Allergies

I haven't been writing much lately, obviously. As I'm sure all of you know, there are ups and downs in this world of food allergies and, despite all the news being good for us, the stress of introducing all these new foods has made spring a stressful time in our house.

But I thought of you all two mornings ago. That is, I thought of you all after my heart stopped racing and the nausea and shakes went away.

Monday morning, my daughter (the one we called "Teflon girl" because illness seems to just slide off her) came into the office where I was working. She had just gotten out of bed. She said "Mom, I feel so sick I don't know what to do" and slumped against my shoulder.

I thought she was kidding until I reached out and touched her. Ice cold. Covered in sweat. And losing consciousness.

She got up off the chair and lurched toward her bedroom. I followed her, heart in my mouth, just in time to see her fall full out across her bed, lengthwise. As I ran to her and shook her (no response, eyes wide open), I thought to myself "This cannot be happening. This CANNOT be happening! This is the one who doesn't HAVE medical issues!"

Fifteen seconds of shaking and calling her name - no response. I ran for the office phone and dialed 911. "I need an ambulance!" tumbled out, followed by our address, her symptoms. Yes, she was breathing. No, she wasn't responsive. No, she did not have a history of seizure disorders. More questions I don't remember. Why are they talking to me while my daughter is laying here? Why aren't they on their way?

Just then, she regained consciousness. "I'm o.k., Mom," she said. "You don't need to have them come." But they were already on their way, and I sure as heck wasn't going to tell them not to come after what I had just been through.

What I had just been through. My daughter, as it turned out, was probably going to be o.k. The EMTs did come (seemed like forever, probably only took them 5 minutes though) and checked her out. All vitals were fine. She felt fine.

When we went to the doctor later on in the day, he said she probably had a stomach virus and simply fainted. Apparently it happens a lot to teenage girls.

But there were also a series of questions from him. Any history of sudden death in the family? (Turns out cardiac disorders can manifest with fainting episodes.) Any history of familial fainting? I reminded him of her bone marrow disorder when she was a toddler...could this be related? "No," he replied, "although I'll be happy to run a hemoglobin test if it would reassure you. But I can tell from looking at her that her iron and red blood cell count are fine."

He went on to say that, 99% of the time, fainting is just a simple nervous system reaction. There's no real way to know which kids are going to have a more serious underlying cause, however, without a bunch of testing. They prefer not to do all that testing unless there are multiple episodes.

I found myself looking at my daughter in a whole new way on the way home. My Teflon girl was all of a sudden...fragile. I couldn't sleep all Monday night. I kept going into her room to make sure she was o.k., as if my presence could magically hold back another episode.

Does all this sound familiar?

Honestly, I don't know how we do it all day, every day. The idea that a seemingly healthy child could just keel over is horrific. Living in the what if it happens again world every day is even worse.

Why is it so hard to live in the moment? To simply enjoy our children without treating them like ticking time bombs? Why is it so hard to talk about the stress of medical issues with others without sounding crazy or feeling judged?

How do you shake the fear, once it's in your house? In your heart?

I don't know. I wish I did. All I can do is write about it.

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