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my fun last night [or] truth about adrenaline self-injectors(15 posts)

my fun last night [or] truth about adrenaline self-injectorsHaiku d'état
Jun 28, 2001 9:17 AM
two years ago i was mountain biking close to home and was stung on the arm by some angry insect (don't know what it was). rinsed it off with water, kept riding. within 2-3 minutes i was itching whole-body and turning red. started riding back to the car (luckily quite close yet) and experienced a drop in blood pressure and lighheadedness/flashing and stars in my vision, nearly passed out. made it back to the car, removed my shoes (which, at that point, no longer fit) and drove myself to the ER--the hospital was 2 miles from the trail. luck, luck, luck. they pushed me past broken limbs and severed toes and direct to an adrenaline injection and steroid & antihistimine IV.

this weekend i was stung by some type of flying insect (don't know what) on the rib area while taking a break on the group ride. i relaxed and breathed deep for 10 minutes and, aside from some swelling and redness at the sting location, i was able to finish the ride with minor discomfort.

at ~12 miles into my normal weeknight route last night ('round 5:50 PM) i was standing to complete a small rise on a quiet, canopied two-lane curvy/hilly road on the backside of a suburb near home and noticed a pinching/discomfort that turned QUICKLY into a burning/stinging. don't know what it was. stopped on the side of the road and checked the bite, noticed that my body was starting to react seriously to this one, called my wife for a quick extraction and delivery to the E.R.

10 minutes later she was there and i was starting to have pains in/in front of my ears, in my neck, and at the site of the bite, under my arms, in my pelvis (lymph nodes?), and i was turning red like a tomato. got in the car and pulled out my trusty epi-pin (epinephrine self-injector), removed the cap and held it against my leg, then activated the injector. she drove me to the hospital, and along the way, my face (eyelids/nose/lips/ears/chin) swelled-up pretty good and my body released histamines, meaning all the pores seemed huge and any blemishes or recent mosquito/other bites resufaced in large proportions. no noticeable problems breathing or with blood pressure.

within an hour i had signed into the E.R. and was on a guerney, and my symptoms were dissipating, and i was only left with localized swelling/itching/stinging, a little whole-body redness, and a humored wife and doctor. the shot in the butt before i left the hospital hurt worse than any other part of the whole experience. the admitting nurse, then the doctor later, said that it was VERY smart to have had the epi-pen on me, and to have used it. last night was benadryl and early to bed, this morning i picked up my 'scrips and now i'm heavily medicated and back in the working world.

word to the wise: i ride with a couple guys that are also highly allergic, as is my wife, and i can't convince ANY of them of the need to carry the epinephrine (adrenaline) auto-injectors. i carry two in case the first one breaks, is ineffective, doesn't work--or in case i get stung twice in succession. of course, i'm neurotic, i carry a full large seatpack with 2 tubes, co2 inflator, 4 co2 carts, patch kit, multitool, tire levers, blah, blah, blah...but i'd rather be stuck with it and not have a problem than caught without it in a situation.

moral of the story: i couldn't feel that needle go into my leg, nor did i feel the adrenaline going into my muscle, nor did it make me edgy right away (it was 35 minutes before i had the epi-shakes). the only time i knew it had worked was when i pulled 1.5 inches of hypo out of my leg and it had a drop of adrenaline on the tip. don't gross out--again, i honestly didn't feel a thing. there's no bruise/spot there today, and it's not sore. but...my butt IS! machismo is fine 'til you're dead. if you're severely allergic and have been perscribed the injector, carry it, and use it! and...to put my $.02 into the hat on the "carry a cellphone or not" argument: carry it.
Good postPaulCL
Jun 28, 2001 9:32 AM
I do not have use for one, but my sister does. She has never been able to narrow down what she is allergic to, but the Epi Pin has saved her life twice while I was with her. First time, the night of my wedding rehearsal dinner - luckily, my wife and brother are both MD's so they didn't hesitate and moved right in. Another time, while out shopping, my sister had a reaction. I had to use the hypo. No hesitation becuase I knew it would save her life. I am not an MD, but spent a few years in Med school but never gave a shot...go figure??

Have your riding buddies every seen you in anaphalactic shock?? If they would see the reaction, I believe they would carry the Epi pin. By the way, are you suggesting that all of us carry one?? Or just those of us who know they are susceptible to anaphalactic shock?? And, is that how you spell anaphalactic??
sp: a-n-a-p-h-y-l-a-c-t-i-cHaiku d'état
Jun 28, 2001 9:56 AM
thanks! anaphylactic

nope, they haven't seen my reaction. yep, i think if they were around to see it...well...then again, how come they carry the pens if they hadn't experienced it before? go figure.

see my other post below in response to RR; i think, if you have the allergy, you're well adviesed to carry it. if you don't know, it would be a good thing to mention to a medical professional. not sure i'd advocate allergic testing, since--as i hear it's no longer painful--it might be overkill. or not.
allergy testing...Kristin
Jun 28, 2001 12:11 PM
Your doctor should recommend allergy testing if he/she thinks that a symptom you are having is a reaction. All my allergies began after the age of 20. So far nothing life threatening.

Last year I experienced some skin discoloration from makeup (ironic isn't it?). I went to a dermitologist and was given a chemical panel. I was give the WHOLE panel (52 patches) at once. I'm not sure if this is routine, but having the test caused some problems for me. 12 hours into it, I flirted with anaphylactic shock. Swallowing was hard, my face burned. I developed a bright read spot on my nose and another on each leg. I became weak and felt like I was getting the flu. Thankfully, it didn't progress beyond that. Since the test, I have a few new and strange allergies--including one involving my eyeglasses. And my favorite--I must absolutly keep citrus away from my eyes. I'm kinda sorry I ever had the test.

If you get tested, I'd question the doctor about how the test is to be administered and why. If I had it to do over, I'd have researched these tests first and would have seen an allergy specialist.
something to think about; good input! thanks. NMHaiku d'état
Jun 28, 2001 12:16 PM
Question...RhodyRider
Jun 28, 2001 9:34 AM
Have you always been allergic, or did this develop recently? What I mean is, did you react this way when you got stung as a little kid? I ask because I've heard that allergies like this can arrive with little or no warning. I was stung all the time as a kid and never had problems, but I haven't been stung since I don't know when as an adult. I guess I should have some kind of test? Do you have any info to share? (Other than the above, I mean...) Thanks in advance.
yes and noHaiku d'état
Jun 28, 2001 9:49 AM
had many allergies as a little one, but never this severe. i'd been stung by bees and wasps growing up, and as recently as 1995 (stung twice/simultaneous on the leg by two black wasp-type thingies while cutting grass), with only a localized swelling and redness that subsided with much deep breathing, relaxation, and an ice pack. didn't know i was allergic 'til 2 years back when i was stung riding. even after my fun trip to the E.R. after that incident, i half-attributed my reaction to the fact that my heart rate was pretty high when stung, and that i only took a moment's break, then kept riding hard. guess last night's experience determined that i'm truly allergic.

my grandfather on my mother's side is allergic to wasps/bees/etc., don't know if that will help you...

over the course of these two E.R visits and a few physician's office visits in result of the first serious sting reaction, though they prescribed the epi-pens and advised me to also carry benadryl tablets, no mention of allergy testing or treatments was made. as i did have a B.P. problem the first time, but no respiratory distress, this may have come into play with my treatment (emergent and ongoing).

it would be a good thing to have, but i don't know if folks out there are allergic to the injector's contents. therefore, and since it's only available by prescription, perhaps it's a good thing to check with your doctor about on your next visit.

if a riding friend was stung and had a serious reaction and/or went into shock, i'd certainly get a hospital or medical professional ON THE PHONE before stepping in to give them an epi injection, since i'm not medically trained and don't know what effects this could create. incidentally, one of the guys i ride with HAS THE PENS, but leaves them in the car (DOH!); doesn't do much good there, does it?

btw, the pens expire after two years and have to be refilled. my medical insurance covers them to an extent that each pen costs me $25.
Appreciate the reply - thanks. (nm)RhodyRider
Jun 28, 2001 9:54 AM
Peanut allergySteve Davis
Jun 28, 2001 9:45 AM
My son has a fatal peanut allergy and we carry an Epi-pen in the car wherever we go. Your post reminds me of the importance of having this thing nearby.

Pretty scary stuff.
same here....jayz
Jun 28, 2001 12:32 PM
although im not sure its "DEADLY" with me...but i definatley stay away from the stuff..even the smell makes me break out..

i dont carry and epi-pen on the road with me because i havent been bit by a rabid peanut...but definately something to think about.
dont' be so blasé! can't anticipate frenzied peanut attack!Haiku d'état
Jun 28, 2001 1:20 PM
re: my fun last night [or] truth about adrenaline self-injectorsBobA
Jun 28, 2001 11:18 AM
Ten years ago I had the misfortune of inhaling a yellowjacket while riding outside of Boulder, CO. She stung me on the inside of my cheek and the swelling was huge. Interesting note - having studied a little entomology in undergrad, I recalled that the hymenopterans (bees, etc.) secrete an acid-based pheromone that induces others of the species to sting without asking questions. From experience, I can say that the sting definitely tasted acidic. Remember - if you're out and about and you do get stung, try to wash off or otherwise dilute the area before more of the little SOBs attack.
thank you - questionDuane Gran
Jun 28, 2001 7:28 PM
First off, thank you for posting this. I have been needing to get around to refilling my prescription for my bee allergy and this story is motivating.

I do have a question. How do you transport it? My recollection is that the pen is a bit large, but then my prescription is quite old. Can this safely be carried in a jersey pocket?
it's like carrying around a medium-sized cigar in a tubeHaiku d'état
Jun 29, 2001 6:57 AM
I put 2 epi-pens, two or more benadryl allergy tablets, my migraine meds (ain't i a lucky bastid?), auto insurance, medical insurance card, and driver's license in a ziploc freezer bag (tough) and roll it up & stick it in my center jersey pocket if i'm wearing a more form-fitting jersey. otherwise, it goes either in the larger seatpack or in a hydration pack pocket.

safety-wise, it's supplied in a sealed tube, but were a child to get hands on it, there would not really be any protection, as the tube top just pops right off. along those lines, i actually was cleaning out one of my seatpacks LATE one night after a few adult beverages and accidentally set off one of the pens into a finger :-), but pulled it away before i got the full dose.

only problem with keeping it on your body is falling off the bike or impacting something (car, tree--it's all possible with my luck here lately). i can see myself having a mishap and being thrown from the bike onto my back, breaking the pens and rendering them useless, in an overgrown field roadside directly atop a ground-nesting stinging insect hive. DOH!

there are companies listed on the net that make transport cases for the pens that are childproof/waterproof/crushproof. when not on the bike, i am either en route to/from work and carry it in my laptop bag or backpack, or i'm in the car with my wife and it's in the glove box or her purse.
the funny thigs about this are:Haiku d'état
Jun 29, 2001 7:00 AM
(1) i've only been stung here in the last few years when i'm on the bike, mountain or road

(2) the first time, mtb, i stopped by a ranger station in full-blown entire-body redness, swelling, shock, blah, blah, blah...and they offered me a topical for the sting. i'm surprised as heck that places like this (and--though i'm not sure--police cruiser, SAG and other mobile first-aid kits) don't carry adrenaline/epinephrine injectors.