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October 11, 2012

Epi-Pen: Save a Life (you need to read this)

The Sting

Not too long ago I was stung by a hornet. Not a pleasant experience by any means, but it’s not like I haven’t been stung before so didn’t think it would be much more than an annoyance.

All stings not created equal

Well, as it turns out, the first sting, possibly years earlier, may only result in a minor reaction but it can sensitize a person for major reaction the next time. Also, of course, there a bunch of different types of bees (upwards of 4 different types of hornets in this area, wasps, and regular old honey bees). Turns out I’m not allergic to honeybees, but big-time to all the rest of them. Who knew?

What happened??

Only seconds after the sting, I was bright red, burning-up, and super itchy. About two minutes later, I went into anaphylactic shock and fell unconscious. Actually, I apparently came-to (don’t remember a thing) but again passed-out, fell down once more, causing further injury and whatnot.

How did it end-up?

By the grace of God, Frances, my wife, was present and she understood what was happening, alerted our quick-acting neighbor, Mr. John Sarneso, who just happened to be available with an epi-pen. Otherwise, I probably would not be writing this now. Within seconds after the shot, I started to come to my senses and become coherent. It took a few more hours in the hospital to finally feel somewhat okay; but I didn’t get back to work till 48 hours later.

An ounce of prevention…

These days, I don’t go too far without an epi-pen, which is available from your local allergist, PCP, or pediatrician. I got mine from my dear friend and allergist, Dr. Pierre Dauby, M.D.,FAAAAI who is an excellent doctor and also works great with kiddos. Dr. Dauby is with UMPC Greensburg Allergy Associates (724-837-4070). He also provided more specific allergy testing and will soon begin my desensitization regimen so that, in a few months, I’ll have a minimal reaction to a bee sting.

What about you and your kids?

I am now on an epi-pen crusade. No home should be without one. You never know whether a direct family member, neighbor, relative, visitor, or whomever is suddenly going to have a horrible reaction to a sting (or peanuts, tree nuts, diary, various medications…) and you’ll be helpless without an epi-pen. They come in two different doses based on weight: below and above 60 pounds.

Another tip

I’m no paramedic, but apparently it’s best to NOT sit-up the person; rather, keep them down and elevate their feet. This way, the blood is more likely to remain available for the heart and brain. Otherwise, well, the opposite is true, which is not a good thing.

This isn’t a typical post?

True, this post is not about autism or childhood behavioral health, which is uncommon for me. However, there are few issues that are so potentially fatal while, at the same time, so easily preventable. Keeping you, your family, and your child safe is of primary importance, which is why I wrote this post. Moreover, most people are completely ignorant (as was I) about the utility of epi-pens.

Some shout-outs!!

Want to take this opportunity to again thank John for his quick-acting and unflinching jab with that epi-pen, in spite of my incoherent attempts at pushing him away. Thanks again to Dr. Dauby who hopefully will make me immune to those little stinging gremlins, and also a big thanks to my neighbor, Dr. Emmanuel Frempong-Manso, M.D. who made a special trip to the hospital after a long day, got everything in-line, and got me out of there in a timely manner. Thanks again to all and, of course, thanks to God for deciding to keep me around for at least a little while longer.

Comments and share your story

Okay, that’s my drama and hopefully never to have another. I’d love to hear your stories, comments, and feedback about this issue. Feel free to email me at

God bless and stay safe.

Dr. John Carosso

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