Friday, June 18, 2010

Room for Improvement

After putting it off for a couple of weeks my husband and I finally got around to filling a questionnaire to participate in a study being conducted at McGill University to establish a registry of people with peanut allergy. Participating in a studies like these helps me feel better; sort of like doing the CIBC Walk for the Cure. Maybe I'm being naive, but I really believe that a cure for peanut allergy will be found and I want to do everything in our power to help the process along.

Still, I was really disappointed with a few of our answers. One question was how long our child had gone with an expired epi-pen. I felt embarrassed to admit the answer was 1-2 months. I realize now that we even went to London with two expired pens. How? Two of them expired in late March, 10 months after they were prescribed. Clearly, we did not receive fresh epi-pens from the pharmacy for the first prescription we had filled, which was on the way home from the emergency department immediately following DJ's first exposure. The second, which was filled just days later at a different pharmacy for keeping at DJ's daycare, had a longer shelf life of 12 months. However, when I checked the expiry dates, I clearly only looked at the newest batch and had made a mental note to have them ALL refilled in May. which we did, leaving the two pens we keep at home and carry with us on all outings unknowingly expired. I shudder to think about the number of times we grabbed snacks on the go or ate out with those expired pens in that time frame. Obviously, there's room for improvement in the way we are managing DJ's allergy. This time, I've put a reminder in my outlook that will 11 months from reminding me of the need for fresh pens.

None of our answers to the other questions really shamed me the way that one did. Still, others made me wonder how anyone could answer them honestly without feeling completely lacking. For example, one question asked where the participant's epi-pens were at that very moment. One potential answer was "I don't know." Another asked when you would administer the epi-pen if your child experienced a reaction. Again, one potential response was "I don't know."

Clearly, there are different interpretations and methods to handling allergies. My husband and I have tried to be proactive - to learn as much as we can and take the necessary precautions to keep DJ safe. This study made me realize that there are probably people out there who don't know where the epi-pen for their child is at the moment, and even people who haven't decided when they will administer an epi-pen if their child has a reaction. Maybe they haven't hammered out an emergency plan hoping they'll never need it.

I know for us, we're more comfortable coming down on the precautionary side. We've got an emergency plan in place and have decided who will administer the pen, and who will call 911. Of course, in the event of a real emergency things may change. I do know that there won't be any debate thought about when to inject DJ; it will be the moment we realize there's been an exposure. Still, I'm hoping we never need to.

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