“She’s had an Anaphylactic Shock, we recommend moving her to the ICU immediately” says the doctor. That’s what my sister came and told me while I lay in the Emergency ward of the hospital.
Anaphylactic Shock – what on earth is that, I wondered as I looked up at my sister while she was already googling the term in her phone.
Shivering as I was even under three blankets, I prodded a little nervously, “What does it mean?” My BP was down to 60/40 but I was fully aware about everything happening to me with not an ounce of disorientation hitting me. Anaphylactic Shock sounded something terribly dangerous though I was more intrigued than afraid. Before my sister could respond, a medical orderly promptly arrived and changed my clothes into the hospital uniform for patients, which was not only drab but highly oversized – guess they have just one size, which is the biggest possible on earth!
Within a short while I was whisked away to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and before I realized I had all kinds of wires and attachments all over my body with several complicated machines beeping all around me. I was more curious than concerned. My roving eyes did a quick survey of everything around me, including the other patients making a mental note of the level of seriousness of each patient based on my level of understanding of how they appeared, and how many instruments were attached to them. I didn’t stop at that, the next day I enquired about every patient from my attending nurse.
Needless to say this was my first experience of being hospitalized.
Earlier that evening, I was back from a trek – my first trek in the Western Ghats. It was a Sunday, the 4th of June, 2017. Accompanied by a friend, I had gone for a weekend trek to Kudremukha National Park. We were dropped off at Majestic Bus Station, the main bus station at Bangalore. Mesmerized by the gorgeous Kudremukha hill, I did not have the slightest idea that in the next 10 minutes I would be getting into a life threatening situation. We had been travelling since morning with a lot of ‘Antakshari’, Dumb Charades, and other games all the way. As we bid goodbye to our fellow trekkers with promises of meeting again, we realized just how hungry we were.
It was already 8.00 PM and so we decided to have dinner before heading home. While crossing the road as we headed towards a ‘Biryani’ restaurant located across the street, we encountered the road divider. It was an enclosed area with trees and shrubs cordoned off by iron grills that stretched for quite a long distance. Our stomach was growling as we walked besides the divider towards its end to be able to cross over to the other side. In one place, we found the grill broken and people were passing through it jumping onto the other side of the road. With impatience getting the better of us, we decided to do the same even though it wasn’t the right thing to do. Unfortunately an inebriated man followed us. There was a tall tree besides us with shrubs and bushes around it. In my attempt to avoid the man, I stepped into the bushes. Immediately a swarm of insects attacked my bare feet through the open sandals I was wearing. I had mistakenly stepped into their habitat unable to see well through the dimly lit street lights.
I felt a thousand needles pricks accompanied by a burning sensation on my feet. Within seconds my body was covered with rashes.
Hurriedly, we walked towards the restaurant.
It was nothing but grace that we had a first aid kit with us that had antihistamine tablets (Avil). I popped a pill and cleaned my feet with Dettol. In the incidents that followed, I lost consciousness, puked the Avil, my feet became black and swelled beyond recognition, rashes of all dimensions covered my entire body including my face. My friend managed to get me to a hospital and also informed my sisters even though he had freaked out completely.
Back in the ICU, I felt dazed even as my alert mind continued scanning the space around me. I thought to myself and sent out a quick prayer that I never ever should need to get back here again.
Before coming in to the ICU, while in the Emergency ward, I was treated with Adrenalin administered intravenously. It was in a diluted form but my body violently reacted almost causing a heart attack and threatening to blow my head apart. Adrenalin is the only treatment and my body was rejecting it.
In the ICU, however I was treated all night long with the concentrated form of Adrenalin administered intramuscularly. By morning my BP was doing much better. With the care and attention provided by the nurses and doctors my recovery was quick and I was shifted to a common ward and finally released from the hospital.
It was not until I came home that I got to know my condition could have been fatal, had it not been for the prompt medical attention I received.
I was lucky that I was getting back from a trek and so had a medical kit with me. Though it was surprising that nothing happened while I was in the jungle but in the city I had a fatalistic insect bite. Life is full of ironies!
An Anaphylactic Attack or Anaphylaxis is caused by an overreaction of the immune system to an allergen, something that the body is allergic to. It is an extremely serious and life threatening condition.
It’s the Almighty’s grace that I am here today narrating what happened to me. The point of this write up is to spread awareness about allergic reactions. More than often, we do not pay heed to allergies but be on your guard, it could be the onset of an Anaphylactic Attack.
Read up and educate yourself about the risk factors of this potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called Anaphylaxis.