Several weeks ago I found myself in a situation I had never experienced before. Paramedics had to come to our home because our youngest son Max, who has autism, appeared to be unconscious and not breathing. My husband was helping my eldest son with his algebra. I was upstairs putting away laundry. Then I hear my husband yell to my older son to call for me and to also call 9-1-1. When I raced downstairs I arrived in the middle of an incomprehensible scene. There was blood on the floor, on the living room chair and on my husband and son. My husband had laid Max, on the floor and he was not responding. My mind had literally seconds to process the images before me. Was he unconscious? Was he breathing? What was all this blood? Was he having an allergic reaction? (My son has anaphylaxis to peanuts).
Time seemed to slow down to an imperceptible dimension. You know those movies where they do slow down the film and people are moving frantically, their voices are muted, but the camera is still? This is what it felt like for me...like some sort of dream sequence. As my mind grasped for some sort of anchor I kept repeating, “What happened? What happened?” I began to cry and whimper. But there was little time for explanations. This was a time for action. My son who was on the phone with 9-1-1 was yelling out instructions: “Tilt his head back to clear the airway.” I had done this a number of times on a practice CPR dummy but never on a live person and certainly not my son. My husband was at the ready to perform CPR but then we heard him breathing and he even put his hands out to resist and was mumbling incoherently. By this time the paramedics had arrived in full force. They acted quickly and efficiently covering my son with EKG patches to assess his heart and then his blood sugar was assessed. My son was out of it, groggy, and confused. Despite all the people in the room doing these tests upon him, he was wanting to curl up and go to sleep. When it was determined that he was breathing okay, his heart was fine, and his blood sugar levels were normal we all sighed with collective relief. This is when I regained my composure and my rational logical side kicked in. I took charge in collecting information for the paramedics.
It was then that I heard the story from the beginning that my eldest son had heard Max making strange gurgling noises from his throat, a sound he had never heard before. When my husband came in to check on him it appeared that his breathing was very shallow or non-existent. Suspecting some sort of anaphylactic reaction he retrieved my son’s epi-pen and plunged it into Max’s leg. But as he never did this before, he seemed to have missed the best spot and blood spurted from the force of the puncture. Max was also turning a shade of bluish-gray and was unresponsive to my husband picking him up or shaking him. Even the stick of the epi-pen produced no signs of arousal until about a minute later. We checked the area for any signs of peanuts and there was none. No rash or hives. My son’s mouth and throat were clear of any obstructions.