E left for Switzerland yesterday for a week-long trip to a medical lab, where he's setting up a laser. We had a busy weekend, so yesterday we were scurrying around a lot trying to get chores and errands done before he left. I needed to go to the grocery store--we were out of coffee, which for me would be like a heroin addict being out of heroin before being tasked to babysit a troop of chimpanzees for a week--so E had the kids for an hour while I ran to do that.
Before I left, E had the kids set up with a "kitchen mixing" activity. The kids like to help with cooking and baking so, sometimes, I'll set out little bowls of ingredients--flour, sugar, salt, water, oil, raisins--and they like to spoon things into their mixing bowls, make messes, spoon them out into muffin tins, etc. E does this activity with them too, but gives them gross ingredients, like ketchup and pickle juice. Or tahini and tikki masala sauce, apparently. Blech.
Long set up. I'm getting there.
I get home from the grocery store. Kitchen mixing is over and E is on his way out the door to the airport, at right around 4pm. The house reeks of curry and oregano, but I don't think much of it. I go in to the studio to check email.
At 4:07, Nolie comes in, whimpering, her shirt still covered in tikki masala and flour. I figure she and Addie are having a tiff and that's why she's crying, but then I look at her.
Her left eye is almost completely swollen shut, with huge, puffy lids on either side getting redder and bigger by the second.
I gasp and call her doctor immediately (for a half second I was proud of myself for having that number memorized). But it's Sunday, and we would have to wait for the on-call nurse to call us back, so I hang up and tell the kids we're going to the hospital NOW.
Why I did not give her Benadryl right then and there, I do not know. I mean, I went into anaphylactic shock myself twice last fall. You'd think I would have that part figured out. I don't know what to say. I panicked, and we headed to the ER. As a result, it would be almost an hour before she got any meds at all.
I must have called E ten times on the way to the hospital--I figured I would need to know what she had played with to get her treated properly. But he wasn't answering. When I finally got a hold of him later he told me about the tikki masala and tahini.
Nolie's other eye began to swell shut on the way to the hospital, and she began sneezing and coughing. Big welts were also breaking out in the creases of her elbows and knees. Addie was giving me the blow-by-blow from the backseat.
Nolie, despite her eyes really hurting and itching, remained remarkably calm. "You probably think I have an allergy, huh, Mom?" she asked, at one point. "My eyes sure are blurry!" And, as we were checking in to the ER, her eyes totally closed, curled in my lap, she noted, "These hospital people sure are nice!"
That kid is something.
Anyway, we finally did get Benadryl and steroids and were able to be home in time for dinner and a bath. Addie was a very kind nurse to her sister, rubbing her back and reading her stories while I made dinner, nursing my shakes and nausea while the adrenaline left my body.
Then we all collapsed into bed and slept deep. Nolie crawled into bed with me at 2:30, and I woke every hour or so to listen for her breathing before nodding back off.
It's moments like this that give you a taste of what it might be like to lose someone you love. I'm probably being over-dramatic here, but I had lots of visions of Nolie's throat closing on the way to the hospital and it being my fault for not calling 911. It took them so long to get her any meds once we got there, and I had visions of her seizing in my arms, not breathing anymore while I screamed at a nurse. All because I didn't keep calm enough to give her some Benadryl right away. And E would have been gone. It would have all happened on my watch.
None of that happened, thank God. We were all kept totally safe and, aside from some residual puffiness, redness, and sniffles today, Nolie is definitely doing better. We're all staying home from school to recover, too, and for that I'm grateful. So, so grateful.
In the meanwhile, we'll be doing some more allergy testing. My guess is a severe skin allergy to paprika--one of the main ingredients in curry, which is in tikki masala. Nolie's only every had one other bad allergic reaction and it was at a dinner party where there was hummus, which often has paprika in it. How random would that be?