The other night I landed myself in the emergency room with a severe allergic reaction. Despite the terrifying journey, I certainly learned one important lesson: to avoid troublesome reactions, take preventative action.
In my early twenties, I discovered I was allergic to ibuprofen and aspirin. This realization was quite disappointing. Not only was I officially left with one option—Tylenol—to subside aches and pains, but it’s also the weakest of the three common pain relievers. And as if that wasn’t enough, over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that aspirin and ibuprofen are clearly the preferred medicinal choices in households across America.
I admit this is a bold statement and if you asked me for scientific proof on the matter, I would certainly come up short. With that being said however, I stand firm in my observation. After all, in nearly ten years of having this allergy, the absence of Tylenol in other people’s homes is seemingly an unfailing trend. So much so, that I’m usually left with only one option: bide my time in pain. Interestingly enough, you’d have thought I would have learned my lesson by now. But given the recent circumstances, apparently not.
While in transit to my in-laws home, I developed a headache. In the twenty-five minute car ride that ensued, my pain level went from dull to excruciating. So, by the time we arrived at our destination I immediately asked for some Tylenol. Per usual, my specific request put the entire household up in arms. Between the search in the kitchen to the investigation throughout all the bathrooms, aspirin and ibuprofen were all they could offer. Until, that is, they rummaged upon a generic bottle of Top Care acetaminophen.
Having never ingested this brand of medication, I was avid in my concern for its ingredients. Carefully, I read the back label to confirm its safety. With no sign of any “kryptonite”, I swallowed a full dose—anxious only about feeling better. That is until I started getting dizzy and woozy.
At first, I thought that perhaps there was some sleep agent in the generic brand, but soon thereafter I noticed my eyes beginning to swell. This symptom is essentially my red flag. If my eyes are puffing, my airways are next. Panicked, I took a dose of Benadryl, grabbed an EpiPen and sat down to relax while my brother-in-law began reading the label to see what mix of medications the acetaminophen contained. Turns out, one compound listed in the ingredients was an informal reference to aspirin.
Fearing the worst at this point, I felt it was best to simply head home. Unfortunately (but luckily, nonetheless), right as we were approaching the exit for Community North Hospital I suffered a quick bout of breathlessness. Immediately, my husband raced me to the ER for treatment. While in observation, I finally had my “aha” moment: for ten years I’ve been allowing my reactions to take control of my actions. How crazy is that?
Here’s the deal: mistakes happen. Human error does in fact occur. And though we’d like to believe that all failure is predictable, it’s clearly wiser to simply accept that this isn’t always the case. In my situation, rather than preparing myself ahead of time for allergic reactions, I focused solely on observation—a feat, as I so eloquently displayed, impossible to achieve 100% of the time. So, if there’s one lesson I’ve learned it’s to take preventative action before the need for reaction takes over. For me, a bottle of Tylenol in my purse is now a permanent staple.
For more information on the benefits of failure, visit www.failurethebook.com. You can’t always predict failure, but it’s usually possible to act more intelligently regarding the possibility of mistakes.