By Nurse Jon
This is my story about an anaphylactoid response as well as an optional natural treatment for anaphylaxis if no traditional treatments are avialable. This is not intended to replace medical treatments. It is only an option to consider in the absence of any other options when facing this crisis.
First, to set the stage, there is a differentiation that you should know. What is an anaphylactoid response vs anaphylaxis.
Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance?
Food Allergy: an immune response where the immune system responds or reacts to an otherwise normally harmless food protein, treating it as an offending danger to the body. This may result in anaphylaxis
Food Intolerance: an irritation of nerve endings that leads to a reaction. This may result in an anaphylactoid response.
An Anaphylactoid Response
On March 23, 2014, I discovered first hand what a food intolerance reaction feels like. On eating a piece of wasabi while I was a volunteer at a health fair, the first symptom noted was my sinuses instantly clearing up. My thinking was, "This is awesome, clearing up my sinuses."
No wonder it would have that effect since wasabi is considered as a possible treatment for anaphylaxis. But that was not what was about to happen to me. This was only a prelude to a much more dark life experience I was to be thrust into. For the first time in my life, I was going to have an anaphylactoid response.
Realizing that the wasabi, with the taste similar to a horse radish, was a bit stronger than expected, I swallowed it all at once. The the entire piece, although it was not much bigger around that a small marble. It had not been in my mouth for more than a few seconds.
Before going on, you should know that I was an experienced high tech pediatric nurse and had considerable trachea and ventilation management experience. My job was helping both babies and people who could not breathe on their own to breathe with machines. I routinely held my breath when preforming procedures on patients that interrupted their breathing, if even for a few seconds. If they didn't breathe, I did not breathe.
Operating under pressure was second nature in these circumstances. No need to count seconds, how long things took was a 6th sense to me. Every action and reaction had a mental time stamp so that I just knew how long I had for any procedure to be completed within.
Working with ventilators, both on the hospital units and in the Emergency Department, never did any procedure requiring changing the trach-tube take longer than 25 to 30 seconds (the patient could not breathe at all during this change). Holding my breath was only for the purpose of knowing what they were feeling as I was working. It was a way of connecting with the patient as the job was being done. But. this time I was the patient.
Instantly on swallowing the piece of wasabi, there was a notable tightening up of the throat. I have had and loved spicy foods all my life. It just seemed like that first burning sensation that one gets when eating such. Only, the sensation did not go away. It kept getting worse, second by second.
I got up from my chair and walked to the end of the 10 foot table I was sitting behind. There was a quick realization of knowing something had to be done, but not knowing what, action needed to be taken. At the end of the table was the best place to be, so it seemed.
It was an emergency and nobody would even have a clue what was going on. The only thing, I was the emergency. There were precious seconds left. I had used up 10 of them to reposition myself in the traffic isle.
What I later found out, not knowing at the time, I was having an anaphylactoid response. Rather than anaphylaxis which involves the entire body, the only part that was having a response was my throat. In my mind, the only chance for survival depended on staying conscious long enough to let someone know what was going on.
When an anaphylactoid response happens, it can best be described as trying to deep breathe through a tiny stir stick straw, even though your mouth is wide open. There is no exhale as there is a sensation of no matter how hard you breathe in, nothing is coming in and nothing is going out. I quickly went from breathing through the stir stick straw to total respiratory arrest.
Perhaps due to my training as a ventilator nurse, my reaction was measured and calculated. Where most people experiencing this would panic, I was assessing options and considering actions.
First, looking around, was there anyone who could help? The realization was that nobody would know what was going on nor what to do occurred to me. It was not a slap in the face. It was just a cold assessment of my situation. Time to move on to the next thing. Tick Tock. Besides, I could not say anything, there was no air exchange.
The only sign and symptom anyone would be able to hear was a wheezing sound of the desperate attempt at inhalation when it first started. But now, there was no wheezing, no air movement. As I later learned, in the beginning of this experience, the air coming in was not going into my lungs, It was going into my stomach. It was not possible to breath out so it was not possible to speak. Tick-Tock, I had just invested another 10 seconds into my survival but did not get any return on investment.
Then a memory hit me. The proteins in the combination of sugar and milk could possibly be an effective antidote. Even just sugar may help. I did not think all of this implicitly. I just thought, I need sugar but it was based on the logic I had learned as a nurse. It was unconscious competence. But in the ballroom of the hotel where the health fair was being held, there was no sugar, no milk. Especially they were not within the 30 seconds I had left before my estimate time of blacking out. Another 10 seconds were gone, Tick-Tock.
Then, standing at the end of the table, looking around for what to do, the answer was right in front of me and it slapped me in the face as another thought process. Tick-Tock...five more seconds passed.
I did not consciously think within those few seconds. I again used an unconscious competence any ER nurse or McGuiver would have also used. Funny but we are taught not to use unconscious competence when working in the hospital. We were taught to be fully competent about everything we thought and did. Yet, here I was, doing what we were taught not to do, taking a shot from the hip as it were. Making a gut decision, Tick-Tock.
In the Emergency Department, when we give the antidote IV of NAC (N-acetylcysteine), there is a potential for an anaphylactoid response. In the event this happens, one of the protocols was to give an IV of lactated ringers (LR). LR has, among other things, sugar (if you are a medical geek, I know it is technically not a carbohyrate. The chemical compositioin is however, the exact double of glucose). This was of course, my first choice antidote. But there is more.
LR also has sodium, chloride, potassium and calcium. Earlier in the day, while explaining the water cures protocol to a health care practitioner, I described it as a oral version of a saline IV. In reality, it is much more. In that unprocessed salt, among the 80 or so minerals, was sodium, chloride, potassium and calcium. The water cures protocol was a oral version of the Lactated Ringers IV, less the sugar but with more, much more.
And here on the table, in front of me, there was an abundance of bags of life saving oral Lactated Ringers in the form of sea salt.
We have used the salt to help thousands of others. Once a friend, complaining of chest pain and the second nitro had not worked, resolved it with a pinch of salt and a bottle of water. Another, her blood pressure at 210/110 was resolved to 140 /90 in 15 minutes with the salt and water. The blood pressure reduction using unprocessed salt is a quite common occurrence. Again, these were not my thoughts....Tick-Tock, just the part of my unconscious knowledge base and I re-lived them in a part of a moment.
If you could split a second into a thousand parts, several of those parts included a flash of helping patients in numerous crisis throughout my career. The parts of my life spent saving others raced through my mind like that dream you forget within seconds of awaking. But these dreams did not fade. They were as vivid as if they happened yesterday. There was a house keeper at Pinnacle Hospital in Harrisburg PA who I unconsciously knew about her, something was not right. I convinced her to go with me to the ER. Sure enough, she was having a heart attack. And the two ladies above, yep, they flashed through my mind too. In all, it could not have been more than a second.
But now, I am my own client. I needed to treat myself. One more second, then two, probably five in all, Tick-Tock.
On the table where the various bags of salt and books on the water cures were being presented was my antidote that my mind unconsciously led me to, an open bag of salt. This was the only possible solution, the antidote to my condition. In this brief eternity, nobody noticed I was within seconds of passing out and minutes of death, yet people were only 10 to 15 feet away in any direction. Standing helpless, hopeless knowing nobody could help, the feeling of impending unconsciousness got closer. This meant I was approaching the 45 second mark. The most I can hold my breath for is 55 seconds.
Then with the first pinch of salt I would know if I had found salvation. Now, over 45 seconds had passed, Tick-Tock. The salt did not work.
What was wrong? I had saved and helped so many, this had to work for me too. As the next five seconds proceeded, yet another epiphany hit me. There was a need for an additional antihistamine. In that moment, it dawned on me, my mouth was as dry as a bone. The salt was not dissolving because of the lack of saliva, Tick-Tock.
Right in front of me, next to the salt was several full bottles of water. Water, the ultimate antihistamine. The perfect antihistamine. Three more seconds passed, Tick-Tock.
On taking just a few drops from the bottle, the swelling stopped. The sense of things getting worse stopped. The closing in feeling, the blackness closing in from my peripheral vision of the impending black out had stopped. Like curtains opening, light was once again entering my eyes. But for a few seconds, I could not see, but I was still conscious. It was now 60 seconds since the total respiratory arrest, Tick-Tock.
Then another eon of time measured in another 10 seconds passed. There was no sense of things getting better. It was not getting worse. I knew I won the first battle but more was needed.
Still sucking air, there was the tell tale wheeze or stridor. This meant at least there was air exchange.
A second pinch of salt was taken. Now, there was a slight improvement. From no opening, to the stir stick size opening in my throat, it was now the size of a straw and getting bigger. But it was still a straw that was being breathed through. My mouth still dry, was as if I had been waterless for hours. Yet I had 32 ounces throughout the morning till now along with the salt.
By this time, someone heard my wheezing sounds an rushed over. They asked if I was OK. On being able to whisper the single word, 'anaphylaxis,' I knew that the worse was over. The fact that the I could speak the single word meant that there was a positive air exchange. There was no blackness closing in on my sight any longer. I could see again. It was just the uncomfortableness of what a severe asthma attack would feel like. The difference being it was in my throat and not my lungs.
Another tiny sip of water was taken and then another pinch of salt, a third was placed under the tongue followed with a few drops of water to help dissolve the salt. By this time, the symptoms were subsiding. I was breathing once again.
Looking back, it was not a fearful event. It only lasted about 3 minutes from start to finish. It seemed like an eternity when it was happening.
There was not time to think, only time to react. The first 60 seconds were the critical ones. The following two minutes were the initial recover period.
My sincerest thanks for the ladies across the isle for hearing the sounds of my wheezing and coming over. It was reassuring to know that if I did pass out, they would be able to speak for me in the event of my unconsciousness.
Most people around me still had no idea that I could have died, in fact, was on my way to death's door step, right then and there.
My greatest gratitude is for the doctors and nurses who trained me through the years. It was their training that made it possible for me to act and react as I did. And of course, my thanks to Dr. Batmanghelidj for the water cures. With out it, there would not have been a natural anaphylactoid response management option.
And now, although this is an anecdotal story, there is an option. In the event that there is not an Epi pen or the ambulance is not within 3 minutes of a person who goes into anaphylaxis, rather than watching a person suffocate to death, here is a simple option.
Put some (preferably unprocessed) sea salt under your tongue. Just a pinch. It may just save your life.
Epilogue: the first few minutes after the anaphylactoid response experience was over I spent thanking the ladies who had my back. This was followed by a period of about 5 minutes of belching. Evidently the air I was sucking in was going into my stomach and not my lungs. On the release of all the air being released from the stomach, now I had a sick to my stomach feeling that lasted for about 30 minutes.
There was a single precipitating dietary factor that could have contributed to my anaphylactic response. Anyone who wants to pursue this for informational or research purposes, feel free to contact me and I can add further details.
Now, the unenviable, the medical profession will have to prove in theory what I have learned in practice and from practical experience. Not. This will probably just be another anaphylactic response anecdote that will enter the annals of holistic health care stories but go not farther.