Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Little Information Goes a Long Way

     Yesterday, my husband and I were anticipating our annual trip to Port Credit to take part in the salmon run that comes off Lake Ontario into the Credit River. By the first of September, the salmon arrive and so do many anglers. I had sorted through our collection of lures and fish-specific paraphernalia and felt pretty much ready to go. Little did I know then that I’d see no salmon that day.
     My husband had rushed home from work at about 1:30 in the afternoon to quickly cut the grass before we headed out to fish. About 2:30, he came to the back door and yelled, "Quick, quick, get me some Benedryl.” I could see he had some bites on his legs and feet. Thinking they were mosquito bites, albeit very large ones, I gave him the Benedryl itch spray. He then told me that in fact, he had been stung by 4-5 wasps. He thought he should take a couple of Benedryl pills, but I said that it would only make him tired and he'd never been allergic before, right? All I could envision was a drowsy angler trying to stay standing when trying to cast off the banks of the river.

      About an hour later he came in and was very red. His ears looked like slices of liver. Sweating profusely, he took off his shirt and it seemed that he had what looked like mosquito bites all over. I talked him into taking a cool bath and drink lots of water because he was really red and sweating. It was then he took the Benedryl.
      To be cautious, we called Telehealth Ontario, which is a phone in for advice medical line. We spoke with a nurse and she advised we go to emergency. By this time, his face was numb, his lips swollen and those mosquito bites were actually hives, a severe allergic reaction. They were spreading quickly. Good thing the hospital is right up the street from our house!
      He went through triage in the emergency ward quite quickly and within 30 minutes he went behind the closed doors to see the doctor. He still wasn’t out after a half an hour and I thought maybe there was another long wait behind that door. A nurse came to get me. I was shocked to see my dear one in a hospital gown with an IV in his hand hooked to two bags of suspicious looking drips and wires going from his chest to a heart monitor. Seems this wasn’t so simple. He had been given an immediate shot in the upper arm of epinephrine and now he was experiencing the slow drip of a "cocktail" of drugs to settle this thing down.
      He was there for over three hours before they let us go. They warned us to take this very seriously. Seems that once you show an allergy to bee and wasp stings, each episode is cumulative and worsens. This reaction had been “severe” and the next one could be fatal - that he could die if he did not have the proper attention quickly.
      Well, of course, I feel so guilty. I should have given him the pills immediately and maybe it wouldn't have been so severe. There was some information I didn't have. In the spring, cutting the grass in the same area, my husband had been stung before. He did mention this to me, but had left out the part that the neighbour had run over and given him Benedryl!!! She is allergic to stings and gave the pills to him as a precaution. That bit of information would have made a difference to me. When he first asked for the drug, I didn’t even know why he thought he’d need it. Had I known, I would have given it to him immediately. In the hospital, the doctor assured me that if my husband had had the Benedryl at home, it wouldn't have been enough to stop this, the reaction was too severe. But we’ll never know. BUT - note to self..."just do what he says!"
      So we’re calming down now. I’m so thankful this happened here, with the hospital right up the street from our home and not when we were in all kinds of small towns and in remote cottages on our holiday a couple of weeks ago.
      Today, we have epi-pens to carry and the Credit River is still there. The salmon have not all gone away and I’m praying that this is the day that my husband catches the biggest fish of his life!


  1. Wow, Michele, so glad your fellow is okay! Sounds like you've had some wonderful times this summer apart from this yucky attack. Hope the salmon were obliging.

  2. Mary...
    No salmon! They tease us by jumping right in front of our noses. That keeps us on the shoreline, constantly casting. But they're focused on only laying those eggs.