Daily Archives: July 10, 2002

Fourth of July, life and death

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People ask how my Fourth of July weekend was, and my only answer is, “It was the best Fourth of July I can remember, except for the part where my daughter went into anaphylactic shock.” And that’s about how it was. We went to Lake Placid, had a wonderful afternoon watching the ski jump competition and swimming in Mirror Lake, had a nice dinner and got out just in time for a great parade (the paraders threw SO MUCH candy at us – and when we tried to wave them off, they threw even more), trekked up to the lakefront park to listen to some speechifying and watch some Olympians and sing along to “God Bless America” (because Kate Smith was, of course, from Lake Placid). I was moved to tears as my daughters got up on the stage with the other kids and waved their flags and sang along. It all means so much more since the attacks. And then we stayed up insanely late to watch the fireworks, which scared Rebekah for a while but Lee got her calmed down and then it was all right and she loved them. Drove back to the campground and spent a kinda restless night with some pretty high winds (bringing, as we soon learned, smoke from the James Bay wildfires). Got up lateish and started breakfast, and Rebekah started rubbing at her eyes and complaining they itched. Soon she started to get swollen up and it was clear she was having an allergic reaction to something, and she was getting panicky and hysterical. Lee got her into the tent and tried to calm her down, we gave her some Benadryl, but the reaction was getting stronger and her eyes were swelling shut. We had an epi pen for this, but had never used it, and I was honestly afraid of what might happen if I gave it to her. We decided it was time for EMTs, so I went to find the emergency number. I got it but couldn’t get a good cell connection and didn’t have a quarter handy at the payphone, so I decided we’d get her to help just as quick by driving her into town. Lee sat with her and tried to keep her talking. Got her into town, found the hospital, Lee carried her in and they gave her an epi shot and albuterol and she started to bounce right back. Likely prognosis: black fly bite.
In another time, or further from civilization, or if we didn’t already know she was prone to extreme reactions, she might have died. I save my terror for after such things happen, and now I’ve got it in spades. This little one is the light and the spirit in our family, the whirling dervish, the charm and energy and wildness, and I can’t bear to think of life without her. We would never have guessed she could have such an extreme reaction to an insect bite, and in fact I had dismissed the need to be so careful about having the epi pen right nearby at all times because she wasn’t likely to come into contact with latex, which is her big allergic issue. So, I was wrong, and will from now on stick by my old Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” (There was also a credo; what the hell was it?)
Also, screw the risks, there’s a lot more DEET in our future.