Note from Lianne (No Nut Traveler) Although this happened a few years ago, most airlines do NOT carry auto injectors, instead stocking epinephrine vials that are more complicated to use and inaccessible except to trained medical professionals.
A few years ago, I tagged along on a business trip to London with my husband. On our way home to Chicago we had one first class ticket and one coach ticket and my husband, being the amazing guy he is, let me sit in first class.
I decided to take full advantage of the experience and ate everything they put in front of me including the warm nuts. Now usually, I don’t eat nuts because I generally don’t like them but this time I decided what the heck. A few minutes later my eyes got supper itchy and started to water. I had no idea what was happening and I didn’t know if it was something I had eaten or something that was environmental that was causing me problems.
I went back to talk to my husband to tell him what was going on and after washing my face and sitting back down, things were not getting better. This is when the flight attendant noticed that I was in distress. Now, you would think that there would be something on board that could easily be dispensed to combat an allergic reaction, but you would be wrong (or at least at the time).
The only thing available at the time was a medical kit, but it had to be released by a doctor for the flight attendant to open it. My bad luck continued as they paged the entire plane asking to see if there was a doctor on board, but none were found. Next, they had to speak to an airline doctor on the ground to get permission.
After about 40 minutes the flight attendant finally got the OK to open the medical kit only to realize that the Benadryl in the kit was injectable and not in tablet form. Flight attendants are not trained in giving injections, which made me wonder why the medication that could help me was in injectable form? Meanwhile, my face started to swell as well as my eyes. Another call went out to passengers to ask for any Benadryl and luckily there was some, though most was very expired but I took it anyways.
As the pilots were being briefed on the situation it was determined that since my throat wasn’t closing that we would continue the flight and not make an emergency landing. The co-pilot came back several times during the flight to check on me since at some point we would be unable to turn around and would need to continue (we were over the ocean at this point).
After landing in Chicago, many uncomfortable hours later, the co-pilot walked up to my husband and asked how I was doing. I was standing next to him but he didn’t recognize me since my face had completely rearranged itself and I no longer looked like me. I looked like I got into a fight and lost! He was shocked when he saw me.
After we got home I went through testing and it was determined I was allergic to tree nuts. I was in my mid 30’s and had never had any problems with food allergies before. When I boarded that flight, I had no idea I was allergic to nuts and I was extremely lucky that my reaction wasn’t more severe. I had no plan in place in case of a reaction. I didn’t know I needed one. I had no Benadryl and no Epi-Pen. I now do!
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