Called for the allergic reaction, I am greeted at the door by a small child. He looks at me sheepishly, kicking his right leg nervously and looking at the ground. He hands me a scrunched up piece of paper and without making eye contact says "mommy told me to give you this."
I unfold the note and read it at the doorstep.
I tell the child to lead me to his mommy, and he does. Around the corner and up the stairs we find a woman sitting on the floor in the bathroom. Her face is extremely swollen, puffy and bloated. She has a thin body, but her head looks as if it belongs to someone else entirely. Looking up at me from the floor she is alert and anxious, wheezing with each breath.
I drop the red bag on the floor and pull out the yellow pack. Without words we we are at work, my partner is setting up the oxygen equipment. I draw up the epinephrine and push it into the woman's arm.
Her relief is almost immediate.
On the way to the hospital, priority two, the woman looks at me with a profoundly thinner face. She is still thanking me, thanking me, thanking me. Her lung sounds are full and clear, skin with a little redness but otherwise in good condition.
Potato chips. She had never eaten that brand before, and likely never will again.
"I shouldn't be eating those greasy things anyways," she says.