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Friday, May 12, 2017

Child Life Specialists at the hospital

If you ever have to be in the hospital with kids, you may have a Child Life Specialist.

This photo may look familiar to some of you who spend time at the hospital. This is one of our breakfasts in the Emergency Department (after being there for over 4 hours). You can tell which one of us has high cholesterol.....

I get oatmeal and Hubby gets scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns.

Such is life!

But back to the kids. Once they would take one of the kids from the Emergency Department upstairs to Pediatrics, we would meet Child Life Specialist.

We got to know Child Life Specialist REALLY well. For those of you that are regular readers, you know that my kids were hospitalized 12 times for asthma when they were little (2 of those were ICU.)

The hospital can be a VERY scary place for kids (and for parents!) One of the worst parts is when they try to get an IV in the kid's arm. It can be really hard to do when the kids are dehydrated or their oxygen level is low. The nurses would tell us that their veins weren't very "plump", because their oxygen level was so low, so it was hard to get the IV in. 

If any of you have had to get an IV, you know what a super fun experience it can be. Try doing that to a sick kid and have the nurse try to move the IV around to try to get it in the vein just right.

Child Life Specialist would come into the triage room and try to distract the kids. She would blow bubbles, show them funny things, play music - anything to distract them.

Once we were assigned a room on the Pediatrics Floor, she would come visit us to see what my son or daughter liked. Then she would come back with art supplies, video games, snacks, all sorts of stuff to try to make their stay at the hospital a little better.

Child Life Specialist would make sure we understood what was available - pizza on Friday nights, location and hours of the cafeteria and snack bar, play room for the kids while their brother or sister came to see them, a sleep room for parents, how late the valet parking was available and where to get my keys if I left the hospital late at night, even a room for me to use my breast pump.

We LOVED our Child Life Specialist!

Child Life Specialist would generally try to soothe feelings and make our stay as best as it could be.

Here's their job description from the Association of Child Life Specialists:

"....provide evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation and education that reduce fear, anxiety, and pain for infants, children, and youth."

She was a friendly face every time we were in the hospital, and she made our stay a little less scary.

Check out your local hospital and see if they have a Child Life Specialist. They can help make a very scary experience just a little bit better. 

Anyone else have a good experience with a Child Life Specialist?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Think anaphylaxis won't happen to you?

Ya, I had heard of anaphylaxis, a severe life threatening allergic reaction. But that would never happen to us, right? That will happen to someone else. 

I mean, we ALWAYS waited 30 minutes after allergy shots. You are supposed to wait 30 minutes so that if you have an allergic reaction, the doctor's office can spot it and treat you immediately.

All 3 kids had 5 year's worth of allergy shots, so we had a LOT of time sitting in Asthma Doc's office.

One day, Son #2 was in the hospital (again) with pneumonia. Hubby came to the hospital for his "shift", and I went home with the other two kids.

Son #1 needed his twice a week allergy shots, so we headed up to Asthma Doc's office. It was a Friday night, which meant pizza & video night at our house. So, we decided to get allergy shots, grab a pizza, and take it back to the hospital so we could have pizza & video night there. (The Pediatrics unit has a LOT of movies, games, arts and crafts,  etc for kids who are in the hospital.)

As Son #1 was getting his shots, I told Shot Nurse that Son #2 was in the hospital, so we weren't going to stay. We were just going to grab a pizza and head back to the hospital.

She said, "Ah, you guys will be fine. What are the odds that anything will happen?" 

Well, OUR odds. We have the worse luck in the world.


We left the office, and I was about a block away when I heard Son #1 coughing. He said, "Mom - I think something is wrong."

I looked in the rear view mirror and will never forget what I saw. His face and neck were bright red. His eyes were glassy and bulging, and the veins on his neck were sticking out.

I almost drove off the road. I flipped the car around and called Shot Nurse on speed dial. She was calm and said she would get the epinephrine ready, but to drive back carefully.

I was shaking so hard I could hardly hold the steering wheel! We made it back to Asthma Doc's office and burst through the door in a panic. She quickly took us to a treatment room and injected Son #1 with epinephrine. She also started a breathing treatment.

She explained that he was having anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Yep, the ONE time we left early without waiting 30 minutes.

Shot Nurse stayed with us for 2 hours, watching Son #1 and making sure he was stable. She had Asthma Doc fill out a prescription for an epinephrine auto injector. 

She let us know that when you have anaphylaxis, you can have a "rebound" - another reaction later that day.

Meanwhile, Hubby is calling. "Hey, I thought you guys were just going to grab a pizza. Where are you?" I blurted out, "I can't talk - he's having anaphylaxis." Hubby could barely get in a "Wait. What?!" Before I hung up so I could concentrate on what Shot Nurse was saying.

After she felt he was stable, she sent us to the pharmacy. Daughter Kitty was following along, and was only 3 or 4 at the time, so she was pretty scared. And to top it all off, we left her favorite stuffed animal at the pharmacy. Great.

So, we show up at the hospital. No pizza. No stuffed animal. 

But feeling grateful that my son was still alive.

Back in Son #2's hospital room, I told Hubby what had happened. I think I was still in shock. Pediatric Floor Nurse came in and heard what had happened and assured us that if Son #1 had a "rebound", they could quickly get help for him in the hospital. 

We ended up ordering a pizza and having it delivered to the hospital.

So....don't even think about leaving allergy shots without waiting the 30 minutes (or however long your doctor's office asks you to wait.) 

It's not worth the risk. Bring a book (you know - they are made of paper and you turn the page.) Or scroll through your cell phone.

Anaphylaxis can and does happen. When you least expect it.

Don't take a chance. 



Monday, April 17, 2017

And so begins allergy season....

So, these are a FEW of the medications floating around my house. (Kind of sad, I know.....)

These are only our allergy meds, I didn't include any of our asthma medications. 

The reason I took this photo is to show that there isn't a one - size - fits - all treatment for any medical problem. Hubby & I and all 3 kids have allergies and we all treat them differently. Some of us take pills (name brand or generic), some of us like nose sprays (also name brand or generic).

My kids allergies are worse than mine, they all had to have 5 year's worth of allergy shots.

Allergy shots can help when you are on high doses of allergy medicine and still not finding relief. Before she started allergy shots, daughter Kitty could easily sneeze 30 times in a row (every day, all day long), even while taking allergy medicine. 

So, Asthma Doc tested her for allergies and found out she is allergic to everything (trees, flowers, bushes, grass, cats, dogs, horses, etc.) The only thing she wasn't allergic to was rats. Shot Nurse said we could get a pet rat!  

Yeah, funny....(insert eye roll here)

So, after 5 year's worth of allergy shots, Kitty can now manage allergies with allergy medicine.(Some people may not need allergy medicine after allergy shots, but she still does.)

Everyone is different. 

Some people like allergy pills, some like nose sprays.

And with pills and nose sprays, some people feel the name brand works best, while others are okay with the generic version.

In an interview with Huffington Post,  C. Michael White, Pharm.D., Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Connecticut said:

“Some patients will tolerate a brand name medication but when they switch medications, they simply do not do as well. The reason may be that that while the blood concentrations of the brand name medication are very similar, what the tablets are made out of can vary. So while the average patient does as well, not everyone will. If you are that outlier, you are better off on the branded medication or another generic. I usually recommend trying two generic versions before giving up and moving back to a brand name drug because again, the costs are much cheaper." 

My daughter is one of those "outliers" that does better on the name brand. But both of my sons use generic versions of allergy medicine. Go figure.

You may have to try a few brands of pills or nose spray and see what works best on you.

Pretty soon, you too can have a pile of allergy medicine like the photo above! 

Even if the trees and flowers cause me endless allergy misery, they really are pretty! And they smell amazing!

I try to always look on the bright side of things!


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

RECALL on Ventolin inhalers

I just saw another recall, this one for an Albuterol inhaler, Ventolin.

If you're not sure what your rescue inhaler is called (most people just go by the color), Ventolin is the greyish- blue one just above the word "asthma" in the photo.

If you have one of those, check the lot and date for a recall.

"GSK Plc. is voluntarily recalling more than 593,000 Ventolin asthma inhalers from U.S. hospitals, pharmacies, retailers and wholesalers due to a defect that may cause them to deliver fewer doses of the medicine than indicated, the British drugmaker said on Tuesday."

The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has a link with the specifics of the recall. 

Code Information:
Lot #: 6ZP9848
Exp 03/18

6ZP0003, 6ZP9944,
Exp 04/18
If your inhaler falls under that lot # or expiration date, call your pharmacy or doctor. You will want to make sure you get a replacement as soon as possible!

You don't EVER want to be without rescue medication. Ironically enough, I am having a hard time typing this because I just used my nebulizer for a breathing treatment and my hands are REALLY shaky.

Asthma can be sooooo much fun!

 Good luck and keep breathing my friends!

Monday, April 3, 2017

RECALL on Epi Pens!

If you use an Epi Pen for yourself or your kids, check your lot number because there is a recall on 13 lots of Epi Pens. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said :

"This recall is due to the potential that these devices may contain a defective part that may result in the devices’ failure to activate."

"While the number of reported failures is small, EpiPen products that potentially contain a defective part are being recalled because of the potential for life-threatening risk if a severe allergic reaction goes untreated."
 So, how do you know if your Epi Pen is defective? The FDA says that those purchased from December 17, 2015 - July 1, 2016 could have a possible defect.

You can check the FDA's website for the dates and lot numbers on your Epi Pen.

For those of you with food allergies, you know how scary it can be to think that your Epi Pen might not work! I am allergic to seafood and Son #2 is allergic to all tree nuts. We are always watching for foods that may cause us to have anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction.)

In fact, we were at a family dinner last night and there was a delicious looking dessert. Family assured us that it was okay for Son #2 to eat, because there were only nuts on half of the dessert. Unfortunately, that means the ENTIRE dessert is contaminated. I love family, but since they don't have food allergies, they don't understand cross contamination 

Since Son #2 and I both had accidental exposures last fall, we are REALLY nervous. Both of our reactions were mild, but new antibodies were formed. Which means the next exposure could be much more serious! Cleveland Clinic explains the science behind this:

"IgE antibodies are generated against food allergens after exposure through the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, or nonintact skin. The clinical manifestations depend upon the characteristics of the offending proteins, the genetic susceptibility of the person, and the route of sensitization. Food allergy is more common in patients who have other allergic conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis, and who have a family history of atopy."

 So, we will keep inspecting all the food we eat. We're not afraid to ask the restaurant, caterer, friend, or family member what's in the recipe. 

Our life depends on it!

One final warning from FDA:

"As stated on the product label, consumers should always seek emergency medical help right away after using their EpiPens, particularly if the device did not activate."

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Oh, is she a Dripper?"

You know, I've never heard of my daughter called that before, but.....okaaaaaaay. Apparently Instacare Doc didn't mean that in a BAD way.

We were at Instacare last fall because we were on vacation and didn't pack our nebulizer. It was a short 3 day trip to grandma's and my teenage daughter Kitty had packed her albuterol inhaler, so I wasn't too worried. 

But Kitty had a cold and we had a major change in elevation. Those two things combine must have made her feel that her albuterol inhaler just wasn't helping. 

So, Mean Mom that I am, I dragged her to the Instacare.

Instacare Doc could tell that she needed a breathing treatment and I sheepishly admitted that we hadn't packed our nebulizer and that's why we were there.

She was really nice about it and assured me that I wasn't a bad parent. She went off to get the nebulizer and brought one back with the canister and mouthpiece.


Sometimes people drip (or slobber) when they use a mouthpiece with the nebulizer. You can really taste the medication with the mouthpiece - it's sort of salty, which of course make your mouth salivate (or slobber/drip) a little bit. 

When Instacare Doc came back to check on Kitty, she could see that Kitty had wrapped a pile of tissues around the base of the canister kit. She said, "Oh - is she a Dripper?"

Never thought of it that way, but yes.

I should have told Instacare Doc when she first went to get the nebulizer that Kitty HATES the mouthpiece. She would much rather use the mask. But Instacare Doc was busy and I didn't want to bother her to hunt down a mask.

These is what we use at home. The big nebulizer is 17 years old, and the smaller one is new. Instacare Doc had home health care deliver a nebulizer to grandma's house so we didn't have to keep going back to the Instacare every 4 hours for a breathing treatment.

You can see a mask on each nebulizer. The mask on the smaller nebulizer is just like the mask you use when you get oxygen at the hospital. The one on the right is also works as an oxygen mask, but it's shaped like a dinosaur. We still have it from when the kids were little!  Some kids like the dinosaur shape because it's not so scary. I think we have one shaped like a fish somewhere too.

If you or your kids are using a nebulizer, you can try different options to see what you like. I'm not a big fan of the mouthpiece either, it is salty and I do drip. I would rather use a mask.

If your kids don't like using the nebulizer, that could be a reason why. Try a couple of different masks or a mouthpiece and see what they like best.

After all, who want to be called a Dripper?!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stress in kids CAUSES asthma?!

(Shutterstock image)

Ever the science nerd, I love learning about new things. In fact, when my kids see me watching Frontline or another show on PBS, they say, "Looks like Mom is on Nerd Watch again."

I'll take that as a compliment!

My colleague is an epidemiologist in an asthma program and sent a link to a video from PBS News Hour.

The video talks about how stressful childhood experiences can actually CAUSE asthma.

Now, I knew that stress could cause (or trigger) an asthma attack 

But I didn't realize that stress could actually cause kids to develop asthma in the first place!

Experts at the National Institutes of Health say, 

"The exact cause of asthma isn't known. Researchers think some genetic and environmental factors interact to cause asthma, most often early in life."
 In our case, it's genetic. It runs on both sides of the family. I have allergies and asthma, as do all 3 of our kids. Many family members on Hubby's side of the family also have allergies and asthma.

The video is only 8 minutes, it's worth watching the PBS News Hour video, "Can stress trigger asthma in children?" 

It's sad to see the stress that these poor little kids are under. (Grab a tissue when you watch the video!) Some are homeless and others have witnessed trauma. The description of the videos says:

"Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found about 2 of every 3 Motor City children face “adverse childhood experiences,” such as household substance abuse, exposure to violence and extreme economic hardship that can trigger asthma."

The video says that too much stress can cause your cortisol and adrenaline glands to kick in to high gear. It also says that when your body is in overdrive like that, it can cause a variety of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, asthma and diabetes.
It sounds hopeless, but there are people trying to make a difference! The Henry Ford Health System has 2 mobile clinics (bright blue buses) that go into the neighborhood and offer health care through the Children's Health Project of Detroit. They also have school based health centers. 

After all, if the kids are living in poverty and experiencing trauma, they may not be able to have a car or money to go see the doctor. So, the doctors and nurses come to them!

It's worth your time to watch the video. I feel sad for all the kids in the video but I am glad that there are people out there trying to help them.

Although I already have asthma, stress can sometimes be a trigger for my asthma attacks. Today is one of those days at work. Guess I better eat some chocolate and do some deep breathing!