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Monday, October 14, 2019

Off to college!

I was talking to a young mom the other day, and she said "It must be nice to have college aged kids, now you don't have to worry about them."

If she only knew that parenting doesn't end when your kids go to college!

I hope I have taught my kids everything they should know. 

I hope they are managing their asthma, allergies and food allergies. 

But as a parent, you still get those phone calls. "I feel like I have pneumonia again, I think I need to go to Urgent Care."  "I hurt my hand at work, what do I do?"

Health Center on campus
Both universities my kids attend have medical clinics for students and faculty. And they are cheap! A co-pay for a visit was only $10. They have medical care and mental health services (if you have kids in college, you know how stressful it can be for them and how many kids have anxiety and/or depression.) During the campus tour, I made sure I pointed out the clinic to my kids, and that if anything happens while they are campus, they can stop there for help.

Health Insurance Card
Our kids are still covered under our insurance until age 26, so they have their own health insurance card for doctor visits, Urgent Care clinics, or the emergency room.

We let the kids know which Urgent Cares and hospital systems are covered under our insurance. I don't know if you have ever been stuck with out of network care, but it can be expensive! So, we showed the kids where clinics were located near their apartment.

We go to a chain pharmacy, so we can always get refills - no matter where we are. I had the kids find the closest pharmacy to their apartment so they could transfer their prescriptions. 
Adulting can be so much fun! 
Have you found any ways to prepare your kids for college or being out on their own? 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

No kids with asthma on the buttom bunk?!

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This follows under "My Asthma Doc is a genius!" I learned so many things from him over the last 19 years since my kids and I were all diagnosed with asthma and allergies. 

In fact, we REALLY miss him since he retired :(

My kids are all college aged now, but when they were little, we had a tough time controlling their asthma - especially with Son #2. He was in the hospital 8 times (2 of those were ICU.) 

Asthma Doc had tried everything he could think of. In fact, he was thinking about sending us to National Jewish Hospital in Denver to see if they could figure out how to treat my son. (They specialize in respiratory care.)

Asthma Doc asked us many questions about our home - such as:

  • Does anyone smoke?
  • Is there mold in our home?
  • Do we have pets?
  • Do we have carpet or wood floors?
  • Do we have a fireplace?
  • Do we burn scented candles or scented plug ins?
  • Does our son sleep in a bunk bed?
I have to admit I was a little puzzled when he asked about the bunk beds. Since it was our first (and small) home, our sons shared a room and did sleep in bunk beds. 

Asthma Doc said that anything from the top bunk can fall down into the bottom bunk (dust, dust mites, etc), and that child can inhale it - causing problems. Especially if that child is already sensitive because they have allergies and asthma. 

In fact, the National Institutes of Health says:
 "Sleeping in bunks constitutes a greater risk of developing asthma for subjects sleeping in the bottom bed. Bunk sleeping should be discouraged in families with an atopic background and sensitized subjects should use the top bed."
Well, we were stuck because both of our sons had asthma, so one of them had to sleep on the bottom bunk! And we couldn't separate the beds and put them anywhere else.

Asthma Doc explained that controlling allergies will help control asthma. And our kids were allergic  to dust and dust mites. 

So, we did the only thing we could - made sure the mattress was covered in a dust mite proof mattress pad cover. And we also had dust mite proof pillow case covers for their pillows. 

We washed their bedding once a week in hot water, limited stuffed animals on their bed (and also washed those frequently.) We also made sure the wood floors and area rug in their room was VERY clean.

And, when we moved to our next home, the boys were able to have separate bedrooms (so no more bunk beds!)

So, did separating the bunk beds help? Well,  Middle Son needed to start on a biologic for better asthma control. But, I feel like the mattress pad covers and lots of cleaning helped too. Every little thing you can do helps, right?!

If you have little kids and are struggling to control their allergies and asthma, do a little research about how bunk beds affect asthma.  


Friday, September 13, 2019

Full moons and asthma

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We are going to have a full moon again tonight, only today is Friday the 13th, so it's supposed to be extra spooky!

I didn't think much about the full moon until I was talking with a friend (who is a GREAT yoga instructor!) She always gives a short massage or positive thought at the end of yoga.

One thing she said was that our bodies are like a full moon. Sometimes we are definitely "full" and feeling great! You know the days - coworkers are getting along, no one is fighting at home, dinner turns out great and you have lots of energy.

And then there are days when we are like the moon - when it's just a sliver (usually called the crescent moon.) Those are the days when I want to smash my alarm clock with a shoe. I want to stay in bed and skip work, but I can't. So I hope I can just get through the day at work, go through the drive through for dinner, and then head to bed.

And it's the same way with asthma. Some days I don't even think about my lungs - they are like a full moon. Big, beautiful and strong. I can do anything I want, and they don't complain.

Then there are days when my lungs are like the crescent moon. I'm breathing - but not very well. My chest is tight, my lungs are burning, and I'm coughing. Usually this is when I have bronchitis or pneumonia. 
 The moon goes through stages. Full moon, crescent moon, and back to a big, beautiful full moon again. 

It's the same way with asthma, we may have a bad day (or week, or two), but slowly our lungs will get back to normal.

Yoga Friend wants us to try to think positive. We are going to have bad days and good days, but everybody does. Not just with family, coworkers, drivers, etc. But even with our lungs.

But they will bounce back and we can appreciate the good days when we are breathing well.

Now - who's going to take pictures of that gorgeous full moon tonight??

Friday, September 6, 2019

Fall allergies? Yep, I feel for you!

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Someone just asked me, what's the worst time of year for you with allergies? 

Ummmmm....year round.

Many people think those with seasonal allergies (hay fever) just have allergies in the spring when the flowers and trees bloom. If only. IF only....

For many of us, fall can be just as miserable. I have woken up coughing several nights this week - which is very unusual for me. That is a sign that my asthma is not well controlled. In fact, Baylor University has an easy way to check if your asthma is controlled. 

It's called the Rule of 2:

Since I am now waking up more than 2 times per month, I need to figure out what is going on.

I already take a daily, controller inhaler, so that should keep the swelling down in my lungs.

Since The Hubster just cleaned and vacuumed our room, I know dust isn't the cause of my asthma attacks.

A quick check at the pollen count in my area shows Ragweed, Sage and Chenopods are all in the "Very High" category. 


So, now I can take action to reduce exposure to pollen, which will reduce asthma attacks for me. 

This includes:

  • Showering before bed (that removes the pollen from my hair and skin)
  • Washing my sheets once a week to remove the pollen
  • Keeping the windows closed in the house (keep that pollen out!)
  • Keeping the windows closed in my car while I commute to work 
  • Taking off my shoes when I enter my home (also keeps out pollen, dirt, bacteria, etc)
 What's your worst time of year? Or do you have allergies year round too?

What helps your allergies?

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Moms who are worried research better than the FBI!

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I was just watching a new series on a streaming service that highlights Dr. Lisa Sanders work with the New York Times. 

In the series, she talks to patients who have "hard to solve medical mysteries." She researchers their medical record, then films a short video of that person explaining what happens to them. Then she puts the story up on the New York Times page. She asks people from all over the world to "crowd source" and help solve the mystery. 

People film themselves, and send their diagnosis. Sometimes it's a patient that says something like "This sounds like me - I've had these same symptoms for years and they diagnosed me with _________."

Sometimes it's a doctor who says, "I had a patient with these symptoms and we discovered it was ______." 

Most of the diseases are really obscure and I have to look it up on my phone to see what they are talking about. 

But one episode made me pause the episode - as my husband and I exchanged glances. Then I burst out laughing. The quote was:

 "A worried mom does more research than the FBI."

 My husband said, "Isn't that the truth?!" 

Whether it's asthma, environmental allergies, food allergies, eczema, or whatever else your kids may be suffering with - moms do a LOT of research. Moms can feel like we should protect our kids - from anything!

And figure out the best way to do that. 

When Son #2 was 12 , he had already been hospitalized 7 times for asthma (and 2 of those were ICU.) We tried EVERYTHING. Even Asthma Doc couldn't figure out what to do. He was going to send us to National Jewish hospital in Denver.

Our home was allergy & asthma friendly. Son #2 took his controller inhaler every morning and every night, he had allergy shots, and was up to date on the flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine. 

But we still couldn't keep him out of the hospital. So, I read anything I could get my hands on and happened to see a story on the news about a new biologic that was available. 

I found an online article, printed it out, and made an appointment with Asthma Doc. I told him I was desperate - we had to try something different. This biologic was $1,000 a month for a tiny vial of medicine that was enough for one shot in each arm. 

Asthma Doc agreed to start Son #2 on the biologic, and insurance easily approved it (since it was cheaper than a hospitalization.)

And - it changed our lives! He would start a cold, and I would think "Well, here we go again - might as well pack for the hospital." But....... he would get better, not worse!

I was shocked that the biologic could help control his asthma. 

I was also glad I had done so much research on my own to find something for him.

 2 decades later..... and I am still researching about allergies and asthma! Now I:

My full time career now involves educating families about allergies and asthma. And all because I have terrible genetics and passed my allergies and asthma to my 3 kids! And we had to learn everything the hard way...

 I didn't get the help I needed 20 years ago when my kids and I were diagnosed with allergies and asthma, so it's now my passion to help other families! 

Do any of you moms do research for your kid's medical needs?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Hey cat ladies!

(Shutterstock image)

As a Certified Asthma Educator, I often have people ask me if they can have a cat if they have asthma. 

Well, it's not up to me to give "permission."

And they may not be allergic to cats. But most people with asthma have allergies too. 

In fact, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) says that between 65% - 75% of adults with asthma also have allergies. And 60% - 80% of children with asthma also have allergies.

For that small percentage of you without allergies..... I am so jealous! All 5 in my family have allergies, and 4 have asthma. And allergies can make our life miserable.

For those of us with allergies and asthma, having a pet is difficult. Many parents may veto the kids pleading for a pet. Others may opt to have one. 

One of my friends wanted a dog to keep her company, so she had years of allergy shots so she could tolerate her dog. And the dog IS adorable and a lot of company, so well done Asthma Chef!  

For you cat lovers, hope is on the horizon. It's well known that cat dander is more "sticky" than dog dander.

"New research suggests that feeding cats an antibody to the major allergy-causing protein in cats renders some of the protein, called Fel d1, unrecognizable to the human immune system, reducing an allergic response."
 Sound weird? Since the Fel d1 protein comes from cat's salivary glands and sebaceous glands, it's spread when cats lick themselves. The hope is that by adding the antibody to cat food, it will neutralize the Fel d1 antibody. 

Why feed the antibody to cats instead of people? Well, our bodies will break it down when we swallow it, and it will never reach the target.

Preliminary research shows that people fared better being around cats who ate this particular cat food with the antibody. They had less itchy and scratchy eyes, and less nasal symptoms. 

The cat food isn't available for purchase yet.

But, for all you Cat Ladies, hope is on the horizon! 

Friday, August 9, 2019

September Epidemic - here we go again!

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Well, it's almost Back to School Time. And with all those kids crowded in one classroom, there are bound to be parents who send their kids to school when they are sick.

That means lots of germs floating around the classroom. 

And kids who don't cover their mouth when they cough and sneeze.

And wipe their nose with their hand and then touch everything in the classroom....

Hello germs!

 I would always dread Back to School Time because my kids would always get sick at the start of the school year, then I would get sick too (since I also have asthma.)

Colds and asthma are not a good mix. 

National Jewish Health says that 80% of childhood asthma attacks are caused by colds

And 50% of adults suffer asthma attacks from colds

Hospitalizations for asthma are so common when school starts that the "September Epidemic of asthma" is known nationwide!

And 25% of kids who end up in the hospital for asthma do so in the month of September!

Okay, so how do we avoid adding to those statistics? National Jewish Health has some ideas!

(Copyright© National Jewish Health. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
  • Stay home if we are sick! (I tell people that it may only be a cold for them, but for my kids - it would be ANOTHER hospital stay.)
  • Sneeze into your elbow (ever have someone sneeze into their hand and then want to shake your hand? Or they touch the doorknobs, printer at work, etc?)
  • Wash your hands after you blow your nose
  • Use hand sanitizer or antiseptic hand wipes (I keep both of those in my purse and car)
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Use your sleeve or paper towel to touch doorknobs or hand rails 
  • Make sure you don't skip doses of your daily, controller inhaler
  • Check your rescue inhaler to see if it has plenty of puffs left - and take it everywhere you go!
  • Stock up on tubing kits and Albuterol vials for your nebulizer

Anyone else dread Back to School time? Knowing your kids are going to get sick again?

Any tips on keeping your kids healthy?