I was in college when I had to use the epipen for the first time
Updated: Apr 1, 2019
I have been enrolled in college for three months now and it has been great. I understand why people say that college is the best four years of their life. There is so much freedom and independence. You get to spend time with new and old friends, learn new information, and attend various events. That is just the surface layer of what college is about.
Regarding my food allergies, the dining hall has been very accommodating. If you read my previous post about the text-to-order system, you will understand why I love the dining hall at Rutgers University. I can order any meal from the menu on the website and text them when I want to 'pickup' the food. The food has been delicious and they know what I like. Everything has been great up until this point...
The other day, I ordered a hamburger at Livingston Dining Hall and I specifically told them that I was allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. As I was eating the hamburger, my mouth started to get itchy. I realized that the bun was a potato roll and contained dairy! Someone from the dining hall overlooked this ingredient and gave me something with my allergen. I texted them and alerted them that I was having an allergic reaction and asked about the ingredients of the food they gave me. I took two teaspoons of Benadryl and then proceeded to exit the dining hall. I ran into Pete, one of my good friends, and we started to walk around. Then my arms started to get itchy and as I looked down, I saw that my arms were covered in hives. My throat continued to itch and I felt it close because it was getting harder to breathe. I took my inhaler and another teaspoon of Benadryl but it didn't help. I was hesitant to administer the epinephrine so I called Nikita, my best friend. She is on the pre-med track and knows what to do. We went to the Livingston Student Center and went into the bathroom while Pete stayed outside. I sat on top of the sink and I had a friend on both side. Sophia was holding my hand while Nikita administered me the epinephrine.
To those who haven't used the epipen before and are scared of the pain, don't be afraid. To be completely honest, the needle didn't hurt and I didn't feel it. Don't hesitate to use it because the epipen works. Five minutes after the injection, my throat opened up again and I was able to breathe. My face was still red as a tomato though. We went to the health center located between Livingston and Busch campus and they called the ambulance. Nikita rode with me as they took my blood pressure and asked about the incident. Pete and Sophia took a bus to College Ave and walked to the hospital to make sure I was okay. They are truly great friends! When we arrived, the doctor wanted me to stay for another few hours just in case of a delayed reaction. I have to thank all of my friends; they came to visit me at the hospital to make sure I was okay and Sophia, one of my best friends, even slept over at my dorm after the hospital visit.
I have never used my epipen before this day and it was honestly so scary. This was the biggest allergic reaction I have ever had and I could feel my airway start to close. I am so grateful to have amazing friends who literally saved my life. My enrollment in college made this experience much more intense; I didn't have my parents with me and I had to take care of myself. I called my mother and she was talking to Nikita before she administered the epinephrine. She was half an hour away so she couldn't come in time before I went to the hospital. I had to rely on myself and my friends in this time of panic.
Before this experience, I never wanted to use the epipen. I have a fear of needles and I heard that the injection hurts. But in that moment, I realized that the Benadryl wasn't working and I needed the epinephrine to stay alive. I overcame my fear and my friend was able to give it to me. Never hesitate to use the epipen. This hesitation can risk your life. If you are afraid of administering it yourself, get an adult, a friend, a family member, anyone who is trained in using the epinephrine to help you.