Phone, Wallet, Keys and Epi-Pen
Every morning just before I leave the house, I always make sure I have my phone, wallet, keys and EpiPen® with me. It’s become a habit now since I have been doing it for so many years, yet there has been a few occasions when I have forgotten my EpiPen® when I'm in a rush for work.
When this happens I always end up feeling nervous and agitated because I don’t have it with me. These feelings intensify If I’ve forgotten my lunch as well, as I have to take extra precautions when buying or ordering food. I have to make sure that I only eat food that I have eaten before to avoid any possibility of having an allergic reaction.
You might be wondering what is the purpose of the EpiPen®? Well, it’s a medical device that is used on someone having a severe allergic reaction, symptoms include swelling of the throat and breathing difficulties. The EpiPen® is administered by injecting it into the outer thigh for 3 seconds*. This triggers a needle that releases a measured dose of epinephrine (adrenaline) used to treat anaphylaxis. As soon as the EpiPen® has been administered the emergency services should be called and informed that the patient has just used an EpiPen® due to going into anaphylaxis shock.
Over the last 20 years (touch wood) I have never had to use my EpiPen®, however, I still have to make sure I have it on hand everywhere I go as I never know when my next allergic reaction might occur. I find it scary knowing that it’s my last resort if I have a serious allergic reaction and go into anaphylaxis shock. I have been very close to using it before, but luckily, I was near to a hospital, so I managed to quickly seek medical attention before the situation got uncontrollable for me to handle.
I read an article a few years back in the Anaphylaxis Campaign leaflet that 44% of 520-plus 15 to 25-year-old sufferers didn’t always carry their Adrenaline Auto-Injectors (AAIs). The fact that so few teens carry their EpiPen® with them is shocking. I feel it's not a massive burden to carry it around and it may be a lifesaver. However, I think there’s a bit of a stigma around the EpiPen® and teenagers feel it's not cool to be carrying it around with them when the serious of the situation over-weighs whether your friends think it’s cool or not.
I remember the first time I got issued with an EpiPen® and my parents telling me to carry it with me, even though I was only going out and walking the dog. It might sound a bit ridiculous, but getting into the habit early of remembering to take the EpiPen® with you will help it become the norm later in life, in turn this will hopefully save you the hassle of running back home to get it when you’re out and about.
* The holding time of EpiPen® and EpiPen® Junior has been reduced from 10 to 3 seconds. The place where adrenaline is administered is the same if you have been prescribed Emerade® and Jext® but the way you use the adrenaline auto-injector is slightly different. Make sure you check how to use the device you have been prescribed. The Anaphylaxis Campaign has some advice about training on their website www.anaphylaxis.org.uk.