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BENIGN DEATH

Odler Robert Jeanlouie, MD


I could not explain why he was urinating too much.  I asked him whether in

his past or his family he has any history of any serious disease.  He

answered that the only disease in his family is allergy.  I made the

comment that allergies don’t kill anyone.  Wrong! And he told me I was

wrong…


Jimmy’s brother, Chrysanthemum, (what idea is it to call a child

Chrysanthemum?) was 32.  He beat all the odds to reach 32.  He was born

with a “weak heart” and sickle cell disease.  At the age of 2, he had his

first asthma crisis.  At 7, he developed polio and lived all his life with

the sequelae.


But, he graduated from Yale, got married and had four children, by the

time he reached 32. How did he do that?  No one has a clue.  The guy was

winner.


Last month, he sat at a restaurant to have dinner with his wife.  She

ordered shrimp, he ordered chicken.  He was allergic to shrimp.  During

the meal, he became acutely short of breath, he could not breathe.  The

simple aroma from his wife plate provoked his allergic reaction.


By the time the ambulance reached the scene, he had collapsed.  They could

not revive it.  He went into anaphylactic shock, with collapse of his

circulation.  He died.


The guy who beat the odds of polio and of congenital heart disease could

not pass the test of an allergic reaction.  Could he have been saved?  Of

course.


Everyone suffering from allergy should have at hand, all the time, a

syringe filled with 1 mg of epinephrine (1:1,000).  In a case like that,

you stick the fine needle under your skin, and you continue eating.  The

truth is, few allergic people follow this rule, and from the time to time,

one of them dies, to remind the rest of them that the rule still holds.


Allegra, Prednisone, Benadryl, etc. may short-circuit an allergic crisis,

but not anaphylactic shock, which is the worse an allergic reaction can

get.  A much quicker-acting drug is required.  Consequently, the death in

allergy is as serious and as definitive as the death of a heart attack or

a stroke.  It is not any more benign.


Well, I had to agree with Jimmy that allergy is a serious disease and does

kill.  I knew that too.


(OdlerRobert Jeanlouie,  Monday, April 07, 2003)

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