Epi-Pen, My 21-Year Anniversary

I’ve had food allergies since birth, asthma since I was a child as well as environmental allergies and eczema. I still manage all of these conditions and carry emergency medications with me at all time.
Carrying emergency medication as a child inculcated me in the myriad ways one can be self-reliant and also the pitfalls of what happens when one isn’t i.e. nurse’s office visits, out of control asthma and allergies and even emergency room visits. I would be called upon often to use my rescue inhaler and take antihistamines, but there was no Epi-Pen in my childhood, my middle school years, high school years not even most of college.

Epi-Pen celebrates its 25th year of being commercially available in 2013. As a child of the 1970s and 1980s, it simply didn't exist. Even after it was introduced, it was not prescribed as readily it is now, nor was it considered the first line of defense. (Read more from the NIH about food allergy guidelines and best practices). I did receive epinephrine multiple times for anaphylaxis but only once I arrived in the local emergency room.

Then in the fall of 1992, about to embark on my year abroad at Wadham College (Oxon), I asked my then-allergist, a top New York City physician who taught and mentored many of the allergist working in the city currently, if I should get an Epi-Pen. His reply was, “Sure, I guess so.” It wasn’t medical negligence; it still wasn’t routine practice back then to prescribe an Epi-Pen.

Since then, I have dutifully carried Epi-Pens around the world. For 21 years, Epi-Pen, along with my other emergency medications (Prednisone, antihistamines and rescue inhalers and my anaphylaxis action plan, before it was called that) have been my constant companions: on dates, to the office, on trips, everywhere. Twenty-one years ago, Epi-Pen joined my arsenal of tools to help me continue to be self-reliant and live an unrestricted life.

So tell me, what is in your tool kit? How long have you, or your loved one, carried an epinephrine auto-injector?


[Disclosure: I have a relationship with Mylan Specialty, makers of the Epi-Pen.]


Unknown said…
My daughter was diagnosed at age 1 with multiple severe allergies and asthma, so I carried her meds until she was old enough to carry on her own. I've developed my own anaphylactic allergies in the last 4-5 years, and have had exercise induced asthma since I was a teen, so now we both carry two Epipens, at least 50mg Benadryl, and our rescue inhalers. I asked her doc to prescribe me Prednisone and oxygen when we traveled to Hawaii several years ago, because I was worried about the possibility of anaphylaxis on a plane and no access to a hospital for up to 6 hours. I figured it made sense for us to have what the ER would have, and was surprised he wouldn't. We've just switched insurance though and are both going to be seen at National Jewish soon. I've heard many others say they carry Prednisone as an emergency med, which makes sense since that's what they give you in the ambulance and/or ER. I'm also interested in the new smaller epinephrine injectors that come with audio instructions on use.
Unknown said…
Oh, and daughter is 14 now, so been carrying meds at all times for 13 years. :)
GM/Brannic said…
We have two beautiful boys (5 and 2), both have various Allergies.

We have had Epi-Pens in the house ever since our oldest had his first anaphylaxtic reaction at 9 months old.

Now that he is a Kindergardener we have him wear his Epi-pen with him at all times. Inside is a pre-filled Spoon of Benedryl as well as his Allergy Action plan.

Once our youngest starts school we will likely have him wear the pen as well.

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