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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Can my child carry an inhaler at school?

(Shutterstock image)

The short answer is YES! Your child can carry an inhaler at school. 

Some parents say, "What about the drug-free zone at schools? I thought they can't have ANY medicine at school." Nope. 

"All 50 states have laws in place that allow students with asthma to carry and self administer asthma quick relief inhalers and other lifesaving medicine. The laws vary by state and each school district may have its own policy and paperwork requirements. Contact your school nurse or school officials and ask about the self-carry/self-administration policy in your school district."

We  have a state law that allows ANY student to carry and use their inhaler IF they have a form filled out at the beginning of the school year. Our form is a combination form. The front side is an Asthma Action Plan and the back side is the permission form that allows the kiddos to carry their inhaler.

For those of you that have asthma, you know the panic that can set in if you don't have your inhaler handy. I don't want my daughter's inhaler locked up in the front office while she is out on the soccer field. When she has an asthma attack, she needs her inhaler RIGHT THEN.

She can't wait while someone runs to the office, locates the secretary to unlock the nurse's office, finds the inhaler, then takes it back out to the field. Crazy!

Our state has an AWFUL student/nurse ratio. Our nurses have between 5-9 schools that they supervise. Yep, not kidding. School Nurse is at the high school Mondays from 8:30 -11:30. I sarcastically tell daughter Kitty that if she is going to have an asthma attack, make sure she has it during that 3 hour block of time. She rolls her eyes and says, "Yeah, right mom. I'll make sure that happens."

My kids have always been on their own if they have an asthma attack at school. They carry their own inhalers and they are not afraid to use them!

Check with your school and see what the school asthma inhaler (and EpiPen) policy is.

Seconds count when you have an asthma attack and kids need to have their inhaler in their backpack....just in case.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

9-11 survivors develop asthma

We attended a local 9-11 anniversary memorial, and I happened to hear a REALLY FABULOUS bagpiper perform. I can't seem to listen to Amazing Grace on bagpipes without shedding a few tears - must be allergies, right?!

It was the 15th anniversary and most of the news programs talked about stories of those who had passed away. Stories about dads who had kissed their kids goodbye - not knowing that the kids would never see their dad again. There were stories about others who had died - moms, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and friends. All who died too young.

And then there were stories about first responders that helped that day and were later diagnosed with asthma. Hubby looked at me after watching the news story and said, "You should blog about that." Great minds think alike.

It doesn't surprise me that people that helped in New York City developed asthma. There was such a think layer of dust. How could it NOT damage someone's lungs?

A clip from the story says:

"It is thought that exposure to this dust through the lungs and skin has contributed to the asthma, gastrointestinal problems, and possibly the increased cancer risk experienced by rescue workers, especially those who were on the site immediately after the attack, when the cloud of debris dust was its thickest."

Another story from ABC News, "9/11 First Responders Battle Toxic Exposures 15 Years Later", says:

“They have chronic … asthma, chronic sinusitis, sometimes quite severe, sometimes interstitial lung disease [where the tissue can be scarred],” she said. “[Post-traumatic stress disorder] itself can be chronic disorder.”

There only bright side of this (if you want to call it that....) is that their care if completely covered under the World Trade Center Health Program.  PBS NewsHour has an interesting video if you have time to watch it (it's 15 minutes.) 

It's so sad that they didn't have the proper protection and equipment for working in the dust of the twin towers. And now they have life long problems. I think they did the best they could with what they had. It was an overwhelming disaster :(

For the rest of us "average Joes", did you know that there are things in our every day environment that can affect our asthma? CDC has a list Common Asthma Triggers 

Check to see what you can do to protect your lungs.

I don't think we can ever thank the First Responders enough for what they have gone through.

I am so proud to be an American! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Find where the urgent care centers are BEFORE you travel!

We have learned a LOT traveling with 3 kids with asthma over the years. I have learned to ALWAYS checked our destination for Urgent Care centers BEFORE we leave on vacation. Just in case.

Need to know what’s available by Disneyland? I can tell you! How about the Grand Canyon? Washington DC? Grandma’s house? I can tell you that too!
I’m one of those believer’s in Murphy’s Law (If anything can go wrong, it will.)

I’ve decided to outsmart Murphy over the years. It seems like if I am prepared for something, it WON’T happen. If I’m NOT prepared, something WILL happen.
So, I always look BEFORE we travel to find the closest hospital or urgent care. If there is an accident or illness while we are traveling, the last thing I want to do is try to try to find medical help while we are in a strange place and in a panic. (We learned that lesson the hard way while we were in Hawaii on vacation…..but that story is for another time.)

Over the holiday weekend, we went to see family. Daughter Kitty had a cold, but can usually use her rescue inhaler (Albuterol ) and be okay.  I asked Kitty if she wanted to pack the nebulizer for our trip. When the kids were little we ALWAYS packed the nebulizer – even if no one was sick. My kids have difficult to control asthma (as evidenced by 12 hospitalizations). So, we always felt safer knowing our trusty nebulizer was with us – just in case.

We decided not to bring it this time. Big mistake. Kitty used the nebulizer at home before we left, but still wasn’t feeling well by the time we got to family's house 5 hours later. She used her inhaler, but was still struggling to breathe. 

I told her the Urgent Care was only a couple of miles away, and we could head there for a treatment with a nebulizer. She didn’t want to go. After watching her for a while, I could tell she was getting worse. 
So, even though she complained (gotta love teenagers!), we dragged her to the Urgent Care. And I am sooooo glad we went! Not only were her lungs still really tight, but she also had an ear infection.

I told Urgent Care Doc that we were traveling and had not brought our nebulizer. They tracked down a home health care company that could deliver a nebulizer (at midnight on a Sunday night no less!) We debated whether to rent it or just buy it. But since our nebulizer is 16 years old, we decided it would be safer to have a new one. Who knows how much longer ours will last?

And there it is! A tiny new nebulizer (our old one is twice that size.....)

Kitty felt so much better after using the nebulizer. When she is sick, the nebulizer seems to work better than if she uses her rescue inhaler.

I am so glad I knew where the Urgent Care was located, so we could calmly drive there. I also knew they would take care of her and our insurance would also cover that visit. 

If you are traveling, PLEASE make sure you find the closest Urgent Care or hospital before you leave. We also carry an Out-Of-State insurance card  since our insurance will cover us in an emergency when we travel to other states.

If you are prepared, you may not need to use it. We have been going to family's house for 21 years, and this is the first time we have needed to use an Urgent Care  in their city for one of the kids. 

Include Urgent Care centers when planning for vacation.....just in case. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Different epinephrine injector

Screenshot from Vitals
It seems like my Facebook feed is full of stories about the rising price of Epi Pens by Mylan. I blogged about it last week. 

Mylan may be feeling the heat, because they are increasing the number of people that can use their co-pay assistance for Epi Pens.

It would be better if they would just DROP the price on the Epi Pen. For anyone that has had to ask for help with co-pays from companies, it's not always easy. We had to get co-pay help for 7 years when Son #2 was on Xolair injections (the serum was about $1500 a month.) It takes a lot of work to fill out paperwork and fax in proof of income.

I'm afraid there are a lot of people who just won't ask for co-pay help and will skip getting an Epi Pen and HOPE they don't have a reaction. That really worries me.

We will never get another Epi Pen through Mylan. (We have 3 family members who need Epi Pens and they have lost our business.)

. I just don't see how they can raise the price to $600, and pay Mylan's CEO $19 million while families are struggling to pay for Epi Pens.

Smart people are sharing another way to buy epinephrine pens.

There is another auto injector, Adrenaclick, but it works differently

. Vitals shared a story about Adrenaclick. 

They said:

"Since the devices are different, your pharmacist can’t just substitute Adrenaclick if your prescription says EpiPen, so you’ll need to ask your doctor to prescribe the one you want. You should also verify that Adrenaclick is covered under your insurance. Call the number on the back of your insurance card, and they should be able to tell you."
 So, I did! I called my insurance company. They said they would cover it and I would have to ask my doctor to write out the prescription for Epinephrine Autoinjector (Adrenaclick.) 

Insurance Company said the pharmacy may not have it in stock and they may need to order it. We have a great pharmacist who will order in meds for us. They are usually there within a day.
So, I will see Asthma Doc, get my prescription, and have Pharmacist special order it. I will CAREFULLY avoid seafood until then.

Then I'll watch the video of how Adrenaclick works 

And like always.....hope I never need to use it!!! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What's with the price hike for Epi Pens??!!

Like many people, I am in shock about the price of Epi Pens. In our family of 5,  three of us need Epi Pens.

I am allergic to seafood.

Son #2 has a tree nut allergy (not to be confused with peanuts - which are NOT a nut - but from the 'legume family'.)

 Son #1 had anaphylaxis (a SEVERE allergic reaction) after getting his weekly allergy shot. The scary thing is that we don't know WHAT part of his allergy serum caused the reaction. 

I can avoid seafood, and Son #2 can avoid tree nuts, but Son #1 doesn't know what he needs to avoid - it could have been anything in his allergy serum.

So we need 3 sets of Epi Pen twin packs.  If we had a high deductible health insurance (thankfully we don't) it would cost us $1800. I'm not sure how much it will cost us, guess I'll find out when I go to the pharmacy.

You may have seen news articles about the crazy price increase for Epi Pens. In 2009,  a twin pack was about $100, today the exact same thing is $600. 3 senators are outraged, including Senator Amy Klobucher.  She feels that Mylan (the company that makes Epi Pens) is unfairly raising prices in America. She says the Epi Pens cost hundreds of dollars less in Canada and other countries. 

You can watch her interview on CNN. She is also the mother of a 21 year old daughter who carries an Epi Pen, so she knows the danger of allergies.  

The frustrating thing that news outlets are showing is that the CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch, is making a LOT of money from this. In the interview on CNBC, she keeps blaming the cost on others (pharmacies, insurance companies, etc.)

But a VERY interesting thing is happening. Each year, as the cost of Epi Pens rose, so did Heather Bresch's salary and perks. A story in the The Washington Post says Bresch made a little over 2 million dollars in 2009, and is now making almost 19 million. 

Let that sink in for a minute. Many people are struggling to pay for Epi  Pens, and she is making almost $19 million dollars per year. I can't even process how much money that is.....

Suddenly, Mylan is expanding their prescription assistance programs (why don't they just drop the price?!) You can see how by scrolling down to the bottom of this CNBC article.  

So, what can you do to be able to pay for your Epi Pens? Allergy & Asthma Network is a great resource. This is their mission statement:

Allergy & Asthma Network Mission

Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to end the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions through outreach, education, advocacy and research.

One of their followers on Facebook asked how Allergy & Asthma Network can help. This is their response:

Allergy & Asthma Network Allergy & Asthma Network will speak with you to better understand your plan and the specific options for co-pay cards, prescription assistance or free epi program. Please call 1-800-878-4403 or send an email to speak with us directly.

Our family has also used Needymeds over the years for prescription help. This is their page of companies that have copay assistance for Epi Pen twin packs 

This is the link to copay assistance for Epi Pen Jr Twin Packs    

Okay, rant over. 

PLEASE do not go without your Epi Pen! 

If your doctor has prescribed one, it can save your life. I watched Son #1 have anaphylaxis and I never want to see that again as long as I live. I will never forget how scary and dangerous that was.

Check with the Allergy & Asthma Network, Needymeds or any other co-pay assistance website.

Stay safe!  

Thursday, August 18, 2016


This is how my life looks lately. 

I have had an endless stream of BUSY (read: stressed) weeks. Hubby's rock band concerts (it's just a hobby....), college graduation for Son #1, dinner parties, migraines and then some idiot who hit my car in a parking garage and took off. Yep, true story. 

I'm not the best at handling stress. And just when I think I have one situation under control, something else happens.

It seems to be a vicious cycle. Because stress can trigger an asthma attack. And anyone that has had an asthma attack knows how stressful that can be. And around and around we go.

The weird thing I have noticed is that when I have an asthma attack from stress, my chest gets tight. If I have an attack from another trigger (like cats, someone mowing their lawn, etc) I have a hard cough that won't stop until I use my inhaler. But if it's from stress, my chest gets tight. Gotta love asthma and how unpredictable it can be.

Has anyone found what helps them with stress? Some people use yoga, some do deep breathing, some people watch funny movies (Hello Netflix!)

What works for you?

I need to start with learning to say "NO" to projects. Apparently "NO" is actually a word - who knew??

Share your ideas and let's figure out how to control our stress and our asthma!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Nut free cases at Baskin Robbins!

This summer has been sooooo hot. Locally, we had almost a month of temperatures above 100 degrees. (I know....first world problems)

So, we picked up Son #1 and Son #2 and went out for ice cream with daughter Kitty. I am not above bribing my kids to spend time with me! I will also take them out to dinner or a movie so I can see them!

My favorite ice cream is Baskin Robbins. However, we always have to be careful because Son #2 is allergic to tree nuts. By the way, tree nuts are NOT the same as peanuts  -  a peanut is from the legume family and is grown underground. So it is not a nut. Fun fact for the day!

The University of Iowa has information for their students to learn the difference between peanuts and tree nuts.   

It might be helpful for some others to read it too!

 Anyway, Son #2 is careful to watch for tree nuts in food. He asked the employee to use a clean scoop and the employee said, "This is a nut free case. This case only has ice cream without nuts. We are not allowed to put an ice cream in here that does have nuts." 

I was shocked! (And happy!) Why doesn't everyone do that?!

Son #2 was getting a sandwich at Subway and saw the cookies in the case by the register. He was going to order a chocolate chip cookie before he noticed there was another cookie in the case that had nuts. That means the WHOLE case is contaminated, and he can't eat ANY cookies in the case. (Proud mom moment....he remembered what I had taught him!)

I wish more places would separate their food that has nuts. I don't think they know that nuts can contaminate the other food.

If you are allergic to a food, you can have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) with can kill you. Son #1 had anaphylaxis once after allergy shots. It was SO scary. I never want to see that again as long as I live.

So, THANK YOU Baskin Robbins!  For separating your ice cream that has nuts. It may not seem like a big deal to you. But it is to us!