Monday, 15 March 2010


Me and nuts don’t agree.  They think one thing about what should happen to me if I eat them.  My body, however, has a different idea.

I don’t ever recall a time when I wasn’t allergic to them.  I don’t remember my first experience of them.  All I know that is for as long as I can remember, nuts made me ill.

Up until a year or so ago, this wasn’t really a problem.  If I accidentally ingested some, my stomach would abjectly complain and eject them immediately.  After an hour of stomach cramps, I’d be one hundred percent me again.

About a year ago this all changed. I was at work and ate a cake where the ingredients were wrong on the packet, or it had suffered some cross-contamination.  The reaction wasn’t good.  I went extremely dizzy, hot, threw up, and went in to a strange spaced-out world as I placed my head in my arms on the desk.  My colleagues, my lovely caring and sympathetic colleagues thought I was asleep at my desk, and commenced picture taking to share around the building.  To their credit, they were horribly remorsefull later.  They weren’t to know.  On the other hand, neither was I.

The allergy clinic issued me with an Epi pen, a small self-contained needle with vital dose of adreneline inside.  It’s a carry-wherever-you-go thing. The first one I was given has been round the world with me, never used.  That would change.  Today.

I was having a chipper day.  Lovely weather, plans for things to do at work, bike ride, time blogging all going through my head.  In the office things were pretty cool too, and one of my colleagues handed round the Terry’s All Gold.  I plummed for the coffee truffle.  No one but me likes the coffee ones.  My day changed in an instant.

If you don’t do detail of things like this, skip on towards the end, there’s a couple in interesting foot notes to the day.

About 3 chews in, I knew there were nuts in there.  I could taste the bitter roughness that I associate with the taste of nuts. I know I can’t tell you what nuts taste like, as I don’t know, but I knew there was a taste in there that didn’t belong.  I ran quickly up the office to the gents to spit it out and rinse the taste from my mouth.  I stood by the sink, wondering what effect it would have.  I wondered if I should get my Epi pen.  I started to feel hot, sweaty, my head started to spin.  I have absolutely no idea what happened next.

I came round in my chair, two women at work (both qualified nurses, but not practicing nurses) around me, one with the Epi pen in her hand.  My head started to clear, the shakes kicked in.  I was freezing cold, pale, scared.  Very scared indeed.

Apparently, a male colleague came in to the gents to find me slumped over the sink.  He asked if I was OK, but I didn’t answer.  I remember voices, but not what they said or what I thought in reply.  I then headed out back towards my desk.  My colleague had gone for help and she met me in the walkway.  I blundered passed her muttering “pen, pen”  She didn’t know what I meant.  A female colleague who had been part of the “photograph gang” immediately knew what was happening and shouted it out.  The two nurses then preceeded to escort me back to my desk.  I arrived stumbling, breathing very hard indeed, scaring the people around me.

I told them the pen was in my bag, which was quickly fished out.  Neither of them had ever used one, so a quick read of the instructions was completed.  I too read them, but I was in no fit state at all to perform the job.  They injected me and then I rejoined the world.

The above three pargraphs were recanted to me later on in the day.  From the moment I felt my head swim till I came round in my chair, I had no idea of anything.  I have no recollection of the event or what happened.  But we weren’t finished yet.

My bosses were eager to get me home to rest, but I wasn’t ready to move.  Not yet.  I sat and shivered in my chair, head clearing but not properly me yet.  I waited, my colleagues checked on me all the time, gave me sympathetic and gentle taps on the shoulder to show their feelings without saying a word.  When I got to the point where I thought I wasn’t going to improve any, I agreed to head home with my colleague who would drive me while a chase car would bring her back to the office once I was desposited (it’s 22 miles home to office).

Once on my feet, I knew I wasn’t over it.  Unsteady, wobbling, stumbling towards the exit with the nurses on either arm.  The got me in the lift to take me downstairs, but I was declining rapidly.  They realised I was failing and quickly grabbed a chair to put me in while a call was made to the paramedics.  Wheeled in to an office to spare my already bloody considerable blushes, I waited for the paramedic and drifted off again to spaced-out world.  The dose of adreneline in the Epi pen had evidently not done the full job.

I remember people talking to me.  I sort of remember things they said but had no idea what to think, no idea who was talking or what they wanted.  I looked up to see the paramedic injecting piriton in to my arm.  This was followed by a large dose of adreneline.  If you’re ever injected with a sizeable dose of adreneline, prepare yourself.

I play rugby.  Rugby equals pain.  There’s not a game that I’ve played where I haven’t walked off with something hurting.  I can do pain as most of the time the pain doesn’t bother me at all.  This was something else.

I felt the rush, the cold onset of the drug chasing through my system.  At first it felt like a cold wind biting me and blowing around me.  The next sensation is as difficult to type as it was to endure.

I felt like every organ inside my body wanted to explode.  My heart was pounding so loud and hard I thought it would burst.  My lungs seared; my head wailed at me in protest; my eyes blazed and burned.  I wanted to scream to try and release the pain.  I wanted to escape that sensation like I’ve never wanted to escape anything.  I could barely control myself.  I heard the paramedics urge me to “breathe deep and slow” but I was struggling to contain myself.  I knew the storm would not last long, but it seemed like an age.  I am ashamed to admit that at one point I was a whisker away from completely losing it.  I couldn’t take it.  I couldn’t escape it.  I almost leaped out of the chair, hoping there was something I could do to escape.  I was so very scared.

The cold started to subside and I began to return to my normal me.  The paramedic said in response to my “That was fun” remark that “This technique is agressive but effective” I think I’d have used slightly stronger language to describe it.  I’ve had numerous operations, bangs, bashes, car crashes, and even smashing my cheekbone playing rugby.  They were all nought point nought on the personal richter scale.  That second dose of adreneline was at least seven.  I guess that the earlier dose was when I was in total shock so it’s effects were hidden and purely to mitigate the effects of the anaphylaxis.  The second dose was full-on in the face.

As my shock subsided, the shakes took over in earnest.  I couldn’t stop my whole body rocking with the effects.  As I lay on the stretcher that was to deliver my shameful exit from the building, even my backside shook.  Both cheeks, uncontrollably.  Was there to be any more?

Thankfully, no.  The paramedics delivered me to casualty as they would need to observe me for a few hours to ensure I my reaction was complete.  So I rested in casualty until they moved me to the onservation ward.  There I slept, feeling rather tired and washed-out.  At five pm they were happy with my progress and let me go, my adventure complete.

After exchanging hugs with the kids on returning home, I called my boss to let her know I was OK.  I’d frightened a few people at the office, seems I wasn’t the only one scared today.

I must here stop to give thanks to the paramedics, the ambulance crew and the staff at Worcester hospital.  Guys, you were fantastic.  Thank you.  I’ll  also add my thanks to tweeple who sent me hugs, wishes and thoughts as I tweeted from my A&E bed.  I’ll even thank those that took the piss out of me.  Your thoughts made me smile.

I’ll learn things from today.  I now know to use my Epi pen at the very first hint of nuts.  I’ll call, or get someone to call, the paramedics immediately as well.  This is, after all, only my life we could be talking about.

As for walking in to the office next time, I dunno.  I am so very embarrassed by what happened today.  I know I can’t help the reaction, but for something so huge to happen over something as insignificant as a bloody coffee creme.  I will personally thank those that helped me in the office next time I see them though.  They were brilliant, and seemingly just as scared as me.

And the foot notes I promised?  Well.

This morning started with such beautiful weather, I was desperate to escape work early and get on the bike and soak up some of that sun.  While sitting in my lay-by, I sent the following tweet “Yes, a beautiful day.  Time to escape from the office asap to get out and enjoy it”  How little did I know that I would indeed be leaving early.

And the last?  You remember that until the last two episodes, all that would happen when I consumed nuts would be to vomit?  I’m sitting in the bed in casualty and Mrs drop4three, who has no such allergy, has a euraka moment and says “I was eating nuts earlier.  After I ate them, I started to feel sick.  I put my hand over my mouth as I thought I would be sick.  I got up to go and get some water.  It was then that the phone rang” she tells me, “and it was your boss telling me what had happened.”  Strange co-incidence, but I don’t believe in co-incidences.


  1. Frightening! Glad things are ok now.

  2. Thanks Tim

    I think I scared the folks at work probably more than I scared myself. I'll be banned from every eating there again!