» Posted by on Apr 18, 2012 in Updates | 17 comments

I thought I understood the meaning of fear. I have a whole new level of understanding now. Today Ethan had an anaphylactic reaction to PEG asparaginase. This was his third dose. Exactly one month ago we were in the hospital for a night with vomiting diarrhea and fever after receiving his second PEG dose. Those were normal side effects but today was a true allergic reaction. Risk of allergy increases with each subsequent dose of this drug.

About 5 minutes after starting the PEG today Ethan complained of an itchy bottom and ears. He was very agitated and red in the face. The nurse immediately turned off the IV. I scooped him onto my lap and noticed he was getting a bump rash on his cheeks and his lips were puffy. It was about then I knew this was going to be bad. They couldn’t get his blood pressure. Then he went rigid in my arms, his pupils dilated wide and he went unresponsive. My memory gets a little fuzzy here but I started saying some combination of “this is not ok” “do something” and “Ethan stay with me, look at mama”. They called a code and gave him epinephrine. The first BP they could get was 55/40. He started going cold and clammy. All I could think was “Jesus don’t take him.” I’ve never been so afraid in my life. Thankfully his airway stayed clear and he was breathing ok. Once the epi started working he stabilized pretty well. They took us up to the PICU and we are still here. He is awake and happy now.

I got to meet with his team just a bit ago to “download” about what happened. I asked on a scale of 1 to 10 how bad his allergic reaction was. They said it was a 9. He will not be able to have PEG for chemo anymore but there shouldn’t be any long term affects from the allergic reaction. So we are stuck in the hospital for a few days while they monitor him.

Please pray for stable and normal blood pressure and that the PEG will get out of his system as quickly as possible.


  1. My heart goes out to you. I have been though fear with both my children. God heard my prayers and God will hear all of ours for Ethan. Love and blessings…..

  2. Praying

  3. I can’t imagine that kind of fear, Emily. Thinking of you all.

  4. Oh, Emily – how terrifying for you – and Ethan! I’m praying for all of you.

  5. I’m praying!

  6. Words cannot express how we feel for little Ethan.. Our Prayers are, and have been, for the entire family, that this terrible experience will be over soon and that he will be done with all the discomfort and suffering! God Bless you all!…He is an amazing child and we know he will get through this! Stay strong..God is watching over him,..xoxoxox

  7. That is so, so scary. I’m crying for you – I can completely imagine how awful that was to go through. I’m so sorry. I’m glad the medical staff acted quickly and Ethan is okay. Thank goodness there aren’t any lasting effects. Hang in there!

  8. Praying for you. How terrifying. So thankful that he’s doing better now. Poor little man…and poor mama!!

  9. Can’t even imagine! The Cowart’s are praying for you and your fam!

  10. Justin and Emily – sounds like a terrifying experience. I am so, so sorry. Fresh grace and the Spirit’s peace be yours. Love and respect you.

  11. Love and prayers.
    Love and prayers..

  12. Oh Emily. How very scary! My heart is with you and Ethan.

  13. I keep you in my prayers

  14. Dearest Em & Justin. How incredibly scary. My heart goes out to you both and little treasure Ethan. We had prayers for you at choir last night and will continue them. Much love.

  15. Emily, you are incredibly strong and Ethan is lucky to have such a devoted and caring mother. I could not imagine the range of emotions you are going through. With your faith and family standing behind Ethan, we look forward to the time when Ethan can recall these memories from his point of view giving strength to other children who embark on this journey.

  16. Love you Ethan. I have more prayers than I merit with me today so I’m sending you a boatload.

  17. Oh Emily! I honestly believe that because he was in your arms he survived. Mama is sometimes the very best medicine, and I cannot help but think that him hearing your voice and knowing you held him kept it from being a 10 with a poor outcome. I’m praising Jesus for holding you both during such a scary event. And I will continue to pray that he NEVER has an episode of anaphylaxis again!

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