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.]