For years I’ve had to carry around an EpiPen, wherever I go. It was sometimes a pain, sometimes I forgot it, but most often it would just be a standard part of my going out… pocket pat down… wallet? Keys? Cigarettes (I know, booo – but I’ve quit now)? AND EpiPen? There are many fashionable ways of carrying them, e.g. a bum bag(!), but large pocketed trousers are always the best way, I reckon. If the pockets aren’t big enough, don’t buy them.
Over the years I’ve had a few ‘cool dudes’ come up to me and ask, “Can I please use it? I want to know what it’s like” or “What would happen if we stabbed you with that right now?” Ooohh, the levels of cool are making Zack from Saved by the Bell roll in his grave. But the thing is, I actually know the answer to the last question. So, allow me to set the scene…
(Cue flashback… sepia tone, jingly late 90s pop and a very large quiff.)
I was standing at a bus stop in the quiet, idyllic village of Pool-in-Wharfedale, awaiting a bus to take us into Harrogate to go to an under 18’s night at, what we could only assume from the name, was a trendy wine bar called ‘Carrington’s’.
Four very excited friends stood eagerly awaiting the bus down the street when the conversation about my EpiPen came up. Always willing to educate people, and facing what could potentially be a ‘risky peanut under-18 club night death’ I asked the very innocent question, “Do you guys know how to use it?”
“No you don’t? Well let me show you!” I continued, whipping it out of its protective casing (which was a very elegant cigar holder).
I showed my friends the contents of the cigar case, and they looked amazed. Then I started with the demonstration I must have done 100 times before. I pulled off the cap, showed them they would have to put their thumb over the end, then made a smooth injection demonstration towards my thigh.
That’s when it happened.
The needle brushed past my thigh… And I felt it.
I learnt three lessons that night:
You notice I said brushed? These things are very, very sensitive – so please use with caution.
A sharp pain erupted into my leg and in a flash I realised I’d just stabbed myself.
Now, the normal procedure is to leave the injection in place for 10 seconds. However, this wasn’t the normal procedure. I pulled the now protruding needle out of my leg and stared at it, probably muttering a fair few expletives.
My friends were now looking quite bewildered, asking what was wrong.
It was time for action. Not knowing what to do, I quickly rang the only person I could think of under the circumstances: my mother. She came and got me and I was left to sit in a chair, sweat pouring down my head, heart racing and with the sweatiest palms I’ve ever felt. She then rang the only person she could think of: the local GP. Who was totally baffled.
When you do something as stupid as this, don’t be surprised when medical professionals can’t find an example of anyone who’s been that stupid before.
He suggested, finally, that my mother keep a close eye on me and I spend a couple of hours recovering quietly. Hoping that the adrenaline would subside before long.
Luckily, this was true. I sat there and slowly returned to normal. I’ll never forgot sitting there with my heart racing, feeling very excited and yet being very aware that I shouldn’t do anything that would encourage it further.
Never underestimate the power of a teenage boy to recover from anything when teenage girls are in the picture.
After a couple of hours I was feeling fine. So with a quick change of shirt and a lift from my parents into Harrogate, you will be pleased to know that I made it to the Under 18’s night. And had a really good time.
By Rory Mason – the self-declared second most allergic person in Leeds