Saturday, December 30, 2006

Anaphylaxis and the Priesthood

On Friday night my dad & I went to our storage unit in Orem, UT to get a few things for me to take back to Boston. It was cold and I knew what I was looking for so we were only in the unit for about 5 minutes-max. After getting the things I needed I started to feel really sick and ran to the car while my dad locked up and turned out the lights. Almost immediately I started to have a very serious allergic reaction to something that must have been inside our storage unit.

A little bit later I broke out in hives all over my chest, neck, and parts of my face. Hives are very uncomfortable and, of course, itchy. I grabbed a few wash clothes to put on my neck and we headed to our family Christmas party. I didn't think much of my reaction because I have allergy attacks often...but this one was different.

A while later I was at the party and I started to feel really light headed, dizzy, and all swollen. I laid down and went into a kind of anaphylaxis shock. Luckily my aunt saw this and called my mom and dad over. I knew I was having an anaplylactic allergic reaction and that I should head to the hospital to get a shot of epinepherine (adrenaline), but I asked my dad to give me a blessing first.

My dad and two of his brothers gave me a blessing and I decided to just lie down and see if I could wait it out. Thank goodness for the power of the Priesthood and worthy men who hold it. Thanks daddy! I made it through the rest of the night.

Having that attack was a reminder to me of the importance of being grateful for health. I thought I was free and clear of having an anaphylactic attack since I hadn't had one in years...but alas it isn't so. I am also grateful for modern medicine (thanks Kathy for the Zyrtec, an antihistamine).

Below is a little bit about Anaphylaxis for those who care to know more about it:

What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylazis is the word used for serious and rapid allergic reactions usually involving more than one part of the body which, if severe enough, can kill.

The word anaphylaxis was coined when scientists tried to protect dogs against a poison by immunising them with small doses. Far from being protected, the dogs died suddenly when they got the poison again. The word used for protection by immunisation is 'prophylaxis', so the scientists coined the word 'anaphylaxis' to mean the opposite of protection. What the scientists saw in the dogs helped them to understand that the same can happen in humans. This helped us to understand asthma and other allergies too, because they work in a similar way.

Scientists now use the word 'anaphylaxis' to mean any immune reaction of this type, even if it is not serious. But most doctors use it to mean a life-threatening rapid allergic reaction.

Unfortunately this kind of 'harmful immunisation' happens to a few of us not just from injections but from ordinary foods such as nuts. Quite literally, "one man's meat is another man's poison". Our immune system, which is there to protect us from infection, goes wrong and harms or even kills us.

When does anaphylaxis happen?

Anaphylaxis happens when the body makes the wrong kinds of antibody, a kind called immunoglobulin E (IgE for short) to protein in our food or to something like a drug. IgE sticks to cells in our bodies (mast cells and basophils) which can release substances which have powerful effects on our blood vessels and air passages. When the same protein or drug reaches the IgE on the cells, these substances are released, causing blood vessels to relax, which makes them leaky and can cause swellings and a fall in blood pressure. At the same time they can make the breathing passages become narrow.

Histamine is one of these substances released from the cells. Antihistamines are medicines which stop histamine from working. So you might think that they would be good for nut allergy, and so they can be when the reaction is mild. But as tablets they take about an hour to get into the bloodstream properly, and this is far too slow to save lives in serious reactions.

So basically what happens in people with allergies is not what people think. Most people think that, for instance, if you are allergic to cats you get sick because of the cat's dander. This is sort of true and sort of false. Almost all people are allergic to cat dander but people with allergies over produce histamine. So you might play with a cat and produce 100 histamine to block the dander allergens from the cat's fur. If I played with that same cat I would produce 1000 or more histamines. My body basically attacks itself. In the case of anaphylaxis the auto immune deficiency can cause serious side effects or even death.

How can you tell if someone is having anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis usually happens quickly.

Anaphylaxis can produce:

  • An itchy nettlerash (urticaria, hives)
  • Faintness and unconsciousness due to very low blood pressure. Unlike an ordinary fainting attack, this does not improve so dramatically on lying down.
  • Swelling (angioedema)
  • Swelling in the throat, causing difficulty in swallowing or breathing
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping tummy pains
  • Diarrhoea
  • A tingling feeling in the lips or mouth if the cause was a food such as nuts
  • Death due to obstruction to breathing or extreme low blood pressure (anaphylactic shock)
Faintness with a nettlerash or swelling coming on quickly is probably anaphylaxis, and if there is also difficulty in breathing the danger is greater. Faintness with difficulty in breathing alone will sometimes be due to a panic attack, but can also be due to anaphylaxis.

In the early stages it may be difficult, even for a doctor, to be sure whether the cause of symptoms is anaphylaxis or fainting or a panic attack. If there is doubt, it is sometimes best to use the treatment for anaphylaxis, but the treatment should then be reviewed with a doctor because unnecessary treatment for anaphylaxis is a bad idea. Learn the rules for knowing when to treat, to minimise the chance that you will use the treatment when you should not.

What is the best treatment for anaphylaxis?

Although there are several important treatments, by far the most important is:

There is one drug which will work against all the effects of all the dangerous substances released in anaphylaxis. It is adrenaline (epinephrine). For serious attacks, it is a vital treatment. You need to inject it; inhalers may no longer be an option.

I used to carry around an Epi Pen in case I went into anaphylactic reaction. I stopped carrying around with me years ago for a few reasons. One reason is I stopped having serious allergic reactions so I didn't see the need for it. The other is that whenever I would tell people about my epi pen and how they would have to inject it into my hip if I ever went into anaphylactic shock and couldn't inject myself--they would look at me as if I was crazy--then they would say no way.

I am grateful for modern medicine, for epinephrine, for the power of the Priesthood, and especially for good health. Here's to many more years before that ever happens again!

December Discoveries 25-30

25--Christmas is so much fun with little kids around....more on this subject to come w/pictures.

26--How long could you stand to be in 12 seater van with 9 other people and all their luggage? It really wasn't that bad, but it did take us all day to drive from Nothern Cali to Provo Utah.

27--One of my favorite things to do is to sing with Alan & Michael Sackett. Boy, they can sing. I can't seem to get enough. Thanks guys I love ya both!

28--Don't you just love movies that make you think long after the credits have rolled and you've left the theater. I went and saw "The Prestige" with my family and we all couldn't stop talking about it afterward. Great Show!

29--Old friends are great. You know that kind that you haven't seen for a year-yet the second you get together it's like you never were apart. Gotta love those kinds of friends. It was great to see lots of my Utah friends. The annual Shields Family Christmas party was yet again a great success- minus the part where I discovered I can still have an anaphalactic attack- even though I haven't had one in years (more of that on the next blog).

30--Fly home, barely make my connecting flight, and then only 1 of my bags actually makes it to Providence. Man, it feels good to be back home. I love Boston!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

December Discoveries 24 & 25

Today I am grateful for the two people I love the most on this planet: my momasan and my papasita. So Mom and Dad, Heidi and Eric, I love you lots. Thanks for a wonderful Christmas and for being the greatest parents EVER!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"My" Piano

There is something magical about playing "my" piano in the living room by the light of the Christmas tree. Being able to sit down to play the piano whenever I please is amazing. I don't have to go to the church or a friends house-I can just sit down and play to heart's content! Being home is amazing!

December Discoveries 17-23

As you have noticed I've been doing a December Discovery for every day in December, but I got a week behind. The Discoveries have been things I've newly discovered, I'm grateful for, and so forth. Being a week behind actually works out great for me. My December Discoveries for December 17-23 are my amazing siblings:
  1. Chelsea Shields Strayer
  2. Grant Marcus Shields
  3. Danielle (Dani) Shields
  4. Kaitlin (Kati) Shields
  5. Alexa (Ali) Shields
  6. Clay Richard Shields
  7. Camryn "Elisabeth/Lizzie" Shields
I love being home with my sisters and brothers! They are the best Christmas gifts ever! I love you guys forever and always!

Monday, December 18, 2006


So I took a day and then I responded to the "grown up" email. I thought my response was mature, well thought out, and helpful for future employment (I sent a few tips). About 2 minutes later I got this response:

I think your right Kylee,
This isn't the job for me,
not even sure why I was refered to you or this job,
by the way, I write well, I hope you don't judge all the candidates by the emails they send you, also, sorry to offend you with the grown up question, I just meant someone who has more expenses that someone your age, because they are older and have more responsabilities, more life experience, more complicated and sophisticated lives, such that they can't live of 1100 dollars a month. I didn't mean to offend you again, sorry.

I probably don't have to point out the mispelled words, the lack of capitalization, and the fact that our dear friend managed to still offend and be rude in his/her apology. Nor do I have to mention that any grown up knows that your emails sent to an employer (seeking a writing, marketing, PR, advertising, etc.) will certainly be judged. What I do want to mention is that I happen to be older than this canidate...which they assume I am younger... and we all know what assuming does!

December Discoveries 16

On Saturday I went with a great gaggle of girls to Freeport, ME to shop at the village outlet mall. We had a blast driving up, shopping, and driving back. The weather was beautiful! Yeah for outlet shopping, yeah for my new jeans I love, and yeah for great friends.

Friday, December 15, 2006

December Discoveries 15

My boss gave me "Napolean Dynamite" for my Christmas gift. This means I have to watch it. Yes, I think I'm one of very few people on this planet who hasn't already seen "Napolean Dynamite". I feel like I have because of everyone quoting it for years, I have friends in the movie, and because I know sign language-people always bring up the happy hands scene in the movie (which I haven't seen). So without further adieu...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

December Discoveries 14

I don't think I'll ever get sick of being able to see the Charles River every morning on my way to work and every night on my way home. Yes, I do love public transportation.

Grow Up!

So today I open up my email box-as usual. There are about 300 junk mail emails or more that need to be filtered out-as usual. I check the email with high priority and the ones sent from my boss first-as usual. Then I check other email-as usual. Then I came to this email-not so usual:

I'm sorry but I think I misunderstood, I thought I was applying for a 'grown up' job. Do you have any of those available?

I almost fell out of my chair. The audacity of someone to write this email to me is absurd. So let me tell you a little background. I sent out an email to a few very qualified candidates who applied for our Marketing/PR VISTA position. The VISTA position is an AmeriCorps position so I explained AmeriCorps and VISTA in the email I sent out. The above email is the response I received from one such candidate.

Just a few reasons why this email infuriates/makes me laugh:
  • I happen to be (the one hiring such candidates) an AmeriCorps VISTA member and it says so on my email signature.
  • I happen to know that the job description of the Marketing/PR VISTA position is very "grown up".
  • This is not the way to communicate your PR skills.
  • The quotes in the email are the wrong ones.
  • It degrades AmeriCorps-which I have a passion for.
  • And could you please define for me what you think a "grown up" job is exactly?
I have two words to the author of this offensive email: Grow Up!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

December Discoveries 13

I know you can't see it very well but I just wanted to exclaim to the world (or at least to the 5 people who read my blog) that I helped to designed this billboard! Hip-Hip-Horray! It's over by the Cambridge check it out...and become a mentor!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December Discoveries 12

You know those sections on facebook, myspace, blogger, etc. that ask you to tell about yourself and it seems that people jot down something awkward or ramble on and on about nothing. Well today I read an "about me" section that not only was amazing and poignant, but it inspired me! I know that sounds wierd, but this new friend of mine is so confident, classy, BEAUTIFUL, and talented. She also is willing to admit she isn't perfect. She knows what she wants but isn't afriad to be surprised by life. So Thanks Lorie you truly amaze me!

Monday, December 11, 2006

December Discoveries 10 & 11

  • My mom calling me to tell me that my sister called her to brag about how great the RS Christmas concert went.
  • A work retreat to figure out our 2007 Operational Plan. Best part is we retreated to my living room. No travel for me today and I got to sit on my couch all day in casual clothes (if only it wasn't a ridiculous 7 hour meeting!)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

December Discoveries 9

Standing in front of beautiful women, looking into their amazing eyes, listening to their brilliant voices, and directing songs of testimony about Christ!

Friday, December 08, 2006

December Discoveries 8

Gotta love the free concerts all over Boston. Guster tonight was great!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Great Lesson Learned

So there I was waiting for the bus this morning. I was engrossed in the book I was reading (thanks Marie for the great recommendation) and oblivious to everything and everyone around me. I was just minding my own buisness and waiting...waiting...waiting.

Then I hear..."I said hello, I said hello, I said hello, and no one bothers to talk to me this morning." I might add that each time she said, "I said hello" it got louder and much more rude. So by about the third time I look up from my book and see Grandma Italy. This, of course, is not her real name but is the nickname that I have given her long ago. She is this little Italian grandma that uses a cane and takes the same bus as me in the mornings. She got a lot of spunk and she's nearly deaf so when she speaks she shouts. I love her.

She notices that now I am paying attention to her and takes this opportunity to teach me a great lesson. She looks at me with deep sincerity and says (with sorrow in her eyes), "Where I come from young people greet their elders when they approach. Where I come from they respect their elders. Where I come from they..." and she drifts off. I can tell she is getting teary-eyed and I know I should say something in my defense, but I don't. I have no excuse...she is right. What has happend to our society? Why don't we respect our elders anymore?

Just before the bus arrives she looks over at me again and with tears in her eyes she says, "I miss my home." I can see pain behind her old tired eyes and it makes me think. I help her get into the bus and take my seat. Because of her, I am changed.

December Discoveries 7

Re-remembering R.O.R.S

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December Discoveries 6

Living in a house full of roommates who are all in love makes me smile. I am so happy that they are all happy!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Making Others Decisions

This topic has been mulling around in my mind for a while. I don't know that this is the exact way I want to discuss it, but nevertheless here it is. My disclaimer is that this is not directed at any particular person or group-honest!

I will never understand when a person takes it upon themselves to make a decision for someone else. Here are two random examples:
  1. I'm not going to invite him to come with us because he can't afford it and I don't want him to feel bad.
  2. Let's don't invite her to lunch because she works during that time and probably can't take time off.
There's nothing terribly wrong with either of these ideas except that it is one person making another person's decision. There is a lot of assuming going on in both of these scenerios. To illustrate my point even more I want to share an experience my mom had a few years ago:

My dad has 8 siblings. One day his 3 sisters and a few sister-in-laws decided to have a women's retreat. All the sister and sister-in-laws were invited-except my mom-who lived in Oregon (the rest lived in Ut). It wasn't until a few weeks after the week long retreat that mother found out about it. She was extremely hurt that she wasn't invited. When she asked why they responded that they didn't think she could afford to fly to UT or leave the kids (8 of us at home) so they decided not to invite her at all. (I need to mention that one sister-in-law said she wouldn't have wanted to be invited if she couldn't afford to come because then she would just feel bad about it...the rest listened to her and my mom wasn't invited). After learning about this my mom was comforted that they didn't just forget about her, she was still very hurt. She would have much rather been invited and had the opportunity to say she couldn't come (whether because of money or kids or whatever). Instead that choice had been made for her.

I am of the same belief as my mom. I would much rather be invited, asked, etc. and have the opportunity to say no, then not be invited, asked,etc. at all. I realize there are those who belive otherwise.

I would like to hear how you feel about this topic?

December Discoveries 5

My co-worker Joyce has the most adorable giggle. It makes me smile!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sunday, December 03, 2006

December Discoveries 3

First Presidency Christmas Devotinals...need I say any more!

December Discoveries 2

I'm in love! no it't not a guy it's a piano-not just any piano...a Steinway! I walked in their store the other day just to take a look. And that's when I fell in love.

This time of year seems to be one of extremes. I want to give so much, I have so little. I don't want to recieve any gifts, I want a baby grande piano. Please don't give me anythin...but what did you say you wanted for Christmas?

Gotta love it-even in the extreme!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Teyaga= "letting go" Nada= "the Joy" Teyaganada= "The Joy of Letting Go"

I love spending time with my friends. I like getting to know them, exploring with them, taking trips, making memories, singing music, playing games, and just talking for hours. I find however, that there is one topic that I don't know much about when it comes to my friends-even my closest friends- and that is their testimonies.

So recently when a friend of mine, Timothy, came over to my house I asked him to share a missionary message with my roommates and other close friends. It was an incredible experience. I had shared and felt many emotions with these friends but this was a moment I will treasure forever. Afterwards you could feel the spirit very strong. We talked about missionary work, shared missionary stories, and basically bore simple testimonies to each other.

A few weeks later another opportunity for this to happen. Julie, another very close friend of mine, offered to lead a Family Home Evening in my house. It was impromtu, but she had a message already prepared. So we assigned the hymn picking, the prayers, the thought etc. and then Julie shared a beautiful message. In essence what I took away is that we need to let go and trust in God. Thus the title of this blentry. Finding the joy in letting go. Again, this was a sweet moment for me to be edified by a friend of mine (through the words of a modern day Prophet) and to hear my roommates and friends share their thoughts and feelings. A priceless heart picture!

I know these moments are few and far between but I wonder why that is. I wonder -when my friends and I all value our testimonies so highly, when we all are trying to be more like Christ, when we all need each other to do so-why we don't take advantage of these opportunities more often?

December Discoveries

I love it how in downtown Boston the steam shoots up through the sewer grates