And then, at that community Christmas tree lighting, seeing her daughter’s swollen and distorted face, she did need it. And she began doing everything she could to get her daughter help. Because of Oakley’s story, she knew what was happening, and what she had to do.
She explains the terrifying moments, saying “I screamed, picked her up and yelled incoherently to my husband that we needed help. Oakley’s images flashed through my mind at lightning speed — because of his parents, I knew we needed epinephrine…To be honest, I don’t know what I screamed, but I know that it was enough to attract the person who saved our child. A man approached us with his wife and young son trailing behind. ‘Do you need an EpiPen?’ he asked us, and then added, ‘I’m a doctor and my wife has one in her purse. Do you want me to administer it?’ It was like I was having an out-of-body experience. I shouted an enthusiastic yes while my husband called 911. Some of this felt like hours and some of it felt like milliseconds, but her symptoms started to improve within a minute of the injection, and I was flooded with relief when the doctor told the paramedic upon the ambulance’s arrival that she was going to be OK.”
Reading George’s essay, I got a lump in my throat thinking about how Oakley’s story had saved another child’s life. His loss is profound, but it is not in vain. And I can’t help but marvel that at the exact moment that Meg’s daughter needed help, a doctor with an EpiPen was right where she needed him to be. It really makes one believe in guardian angels, and it makes one know without a doubt that you can use tragedy for good.
George’s daughter soon got allergy testing that confirmed her life-threatening cashew allergy, and she now says she is doing well but that “forevermore, epinephrine injectors are an extension of our body.” She says that because Oakley’s family sharing their story saved her daughter’s life, she is sharing their story in hopes of doing the same.
“No matter how painful the memory,” she says, “it’s our turn. Familiarize yourself with food allergies even if your kids don’t have them — we did, and I am grateful for it every single day. As with most things, time does heal wounds, and knowledge is more powerful than fear.”