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Friday, August 27, 2010

Flash Back -flu shot

I'm glad it's not this time last year when the big Swine Flu or H1N1 was hitting the news! There seemed to be a lot of panic and school closings going on. And since asthma complicates any respiratory infection, I was very worried about my kids. (They've already been hospitalized 12 times thanks to asthma)

They kept mentioning the high risk groups to get immunized, which included pregnant women and also chronic disease. But seldom did they say the actual word "asthma". I even had someone from a health department say, "asthma? you're not in the high risk category". Oh YES WE ARE!

The Assistant Surgeon General was in town recently speaking about immunizations. I heard her several times refer to people with asthma as being high risk and needing immunizations. She also cautioned that they not get the nasal spray, but instead the injection.

Since the nasal spray is a live inactivated virus, it's not recommended for people with weakened immune systems or asthma. And you need to check with your doctor if you have recently been on steroids, because that can impair your immune system for a time. apparently, the H1N1 vaccine is combined with the annual flu shot this year, so that's good news. That means one shot for most of us, but I think they're still recommending children under 9 receive 2 doses. So ask your doctor or local health department.

I'm hoping there aren't lines this year for the flu shot-last year we waited for 2 hours. But I knew my kids would absolutely end up being hospitalized if they contracted the flu.

So, roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath and get that flu shot. Be a good example for your kids, go first and put on a happy face. Then afterwards, take them out for ice cream as a reward for getting their flu shot!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Anaphylactic shock

To follow up on the last post, I cautioned that you must stay 20 minutes after every allergy injection. There is a possibility of anaphylactic shock since you are getting injections of what you are allergic to.

The ONE TIME we left early, #1 Son had anaphylactic shock. #2 Son was already in the hospital with pneumonia and asthma, and we had gone to do allergy shots with #1 Son and Kitty. We were going to get shots, grab some pizza and head to the hospital. HA!

We told Wonderful Shot Nurse that we weren't going to stay, but were headed back to the hospital. She assured us we would be fine. Then Murphy's Law stepped in. We were a block away when #1 Son started coughing and said he thought something was wrong. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw #1 Son with a bright red face, glassy and bulging eyes and a swollen neck. Uh oh.

I did a quick U-turn and called Wonderful Shot Nurse who was waiting for us as I sped back. She had the epinephrine injection ready, and a breathing treatment set up. She calmly injected him and made small talk while the medicine did its job. She stayed with us for 2 hours after the office closed, to make sure he was stable. She gave us a prescription for an epi-pen since people can have a rebound anaphylactic shock episode 2 hours after the initial onset and treatment.

Meanwhile, Hubby is calling my cell phone wondering what's taking so long for the pizza. I breathlessly said "anaphylactic shock, can't talk". To make matters worse, while we were at the pharmacy getting the epi pen, Kitty left her favorite stuffed animal there!

We made it to the hospital about 3 hours later, I was so shaken up that we ended up ordering pizza to be delivered there. As we munched away, I remember feeling grateful for modern medicine, and that both our sons were still alive.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Allergy shots

Allergy shots (immunotherapy) is a great option for a lot of people. Sometimes, even on daily allergy medicine, it doesn't relieve your symptoms. You or your kids may still be sneezing and wheezing.

To be tested for allergies, you must be off all allergy medicine for a week before the test so the antihistamine doesn't mask the results. Usually, the office will pick an off season time for the testing. The first time we tried, #1 son couldn't go a whole week without an antihistamine. He actually broke out in hives because his allergies were so bad, so we scheduled the next try for November.

The kids start by laying on their stomach while our Wonderful Shot Nurse starts the test. She marks multiple rows and columns on the kids back with pen, that shows her where to administer the serum. It's not a needle, but a sharp scratch on the back that introduces the serum under the skin. The kids need to lay still for 2o minutes, not easy with an itchy back. We would usually have the kids bring their Gameboy to keep them busy.

The Wonderful Shot Nurse checks every 5 minutes, to make sure the kids aren't having a reaction and to see how big the welts are. Each column is in order, she can tell what they're allergic to by just looking at each area. After 20 minutes, she measures the welts-that determines what they're allergic to and what to add to their serum. The best part is when she rubs their back with an anti-itch cream.

Once the serum comes in, you start allergy shots twice a week (one injection in each arm or 4 injections per week). It's a MUST to stay 20 minutes after each injection. Since you are being injected with what you are allergic to, there is a possibility of anaphylaxis. You monitor the size of the welts on your arm, that determines when you are able to move to once a week injections.

It's a long process, it takes anywhere from 3 to 5 years. But having your body slowly build up a tolerance to what you are allergic to is worth it. You don't have to take antihistamines for the rest of your life!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beware of hardware stores

Who would have thought just running through the hardware store with Hubby would cause an asthma attack?!

As a trained Interior Designer, a hardware store to me is like a kid in a candy store. Oooh, love that flooring! Hey, is that a new style of vanity for the bathroom? Nice mirror......

So, I am usually accompanied by Hubby so I don't drag home any new project for him. This time we were in the lumber area, getting wood for some faux paneling we were installing. I immediately started sneezing and coughing and my chest tightened up. This store was out of the size of boards we needed, so we had to drive across town to the other hardware store. Repeat sneezing, coughing and tight chest scenario. Only this time, I had to grab onto a display to catch myself because I was coughing so hard.

I managed to gasp out 'must leave' as I staggered toward the exit. The cashier was eyeing me as passed by her (who could miss that cough and stagger?!)

Fresh air outside! But alas, no inhaler in my purse. ( Like most women, I use multiple purses, it depends on which outfit I'm wearing as to which purse I grab. But I took the wrong one-no inhaler!) It seemed like a long drive home but as soon as I used some Albuterol, the cough instantly stopped. Although I still had a lot of mucus and irritated lungs for the rest of the day. But good asthma medication is worth it's weight in gold! I usually have different inhalers stashed in various places in cases an asthma attack hits. I'm always worried about the kids needing one, but what good is a mom who isn't breathing?! I need to take care of myself as well! Maybe I'll get a little chocolate while I'm at the store getting my new inhaler.......

Friday, August 13, 2010

Flash-back Friday- coming home on oxygen

Does anybody like using oxygen at home after your kids have been discharged from the hospital?

I'm can't remember how many times the kids were discharged on oxygen, but it always made me nervous. Sometimes, they can discharge a patient if all they need is oxygen or they can stay for another day or two in the hospital. There's nothing like being back home in our own beds! And there can be other risks of picking up infections in the hospital-I don't want the kids coming home with any infection they didn't already have!

By the end of the hospitalization, the kids are pretty hyper from the steroid IV. Once they get home, they're still a little crazy. They want to run around the house, but usually get to the end of the oxygen tubing and are yanked back like a dog who has reached the end of his chain. It's hard to keep a straight face when that happens.

If one of the kids was going to be on oxygen for a while, they gave us an oxygen "concentrator" instead of using tanks. It turns room air into oxygen by concentrating it. That way, they're not coming out all the time with a new tank. They can also bring a travel size tank so you can take that when the kids have to go back to the doctor for a follow up appointment.

It's amazing the things you can learn over the years (and things you wish you didn't have to know about.) Here's hoping the kids don't start getting sick again now that school is about to start! I do not want to know how germ infested the classrooms can be.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great minds think alike!

I was surprised to see this post on my Facebook page. Looks like great minds think alike! I think I just posted something about getting my kids ready for back to school with asthma. The Utah Asthma Program has a list of things to do to get the kids ready for school.

They listed the Self Administration Form so the kids can carry their inhaler with them. I know our school nurses send one every year that we fill out and mail back. If your school nurse doesn't, there's a form on the website. There's also a link to the Utah bill that allows students to carry their inhaler with them at all times in the school (if the parents think they can self-administer their inhaler)

They also have an Asthma Action Plan link, you can fill that out with your doctor so the school knows what to do if your student has an asthma attack.

I saw several programs also listed that will train the staff at the school (what does an asthma look like, what should they do to treat it, when to call for help, etc)

Has anyone ever had an experience of their child having an asthma attack at school? Did the staff know what to do? Was the school nurse available?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Whew! Close one on allergies!

It's a good thing we've taught #2 Son to carefully check labels.

Last night, he went to get some ice cream after dinner, we had bought a ice cream with candy bars mixed in. It looked chocolately and delicious!

He came into the living room, holding up the carton by one hand (like a waiter carrying a tray) and said, "good thing I just read the ingredients on this before I took a spoonful."

Listed right there on the side were almonds, tree nuts! His worst enemy. Known to cause anaphylaxis for #2 Son.

It didn't even dawn on me that a candy bar ice cream would have almonds. Some mom I am!There goes my Mother Of The Year Award (again) ha ha. Ice cream with Snickers doesn't worry me because they're peanuts, but tree nuts mixed in candy bars are another story.

Sure, I'm supposed to protect my kids, not buy something that is going to give them anaphylaxis. Although, come to think of it-Hubby was the one who picked out this flavor. I'll be more careful next time. Even ice cream can cause problems!

Let your guard down once and this is what can happen. Good thing we've trained #2 Son as a back up label checker!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Flash back Friday- hospital birthday

So, what are the odds of being in the hospital on your birthday? Well, Kitty ended up there one year.

We were planning her birthday party and had sent out all the invites when she started getting sick. (#2 son was also sick and already in the hospital) Then Kitty started coughing and wheezing. Not unusual for an illness to travel through the family, especially one full of people with asthma.

She was admitted a day later, and I just sat down and cried. Then I thought, now what?! Two kids in the hospital, one with a birthday in a couple of days.

Enter One Very Cool Child Life Specialist. She said, "We'll just have the party here!" I didn't know you could do that! So she had us pick out a theme, pulled together decorations and party favors, and set up a room. I called all the parents, who met us at the hospital, then security took up the elevator into the secured area. I told Abby we were going to go for a walk with her tank to 'get another chest x-ray'. We opened the door to the room and everyone yelled 'surprise'. She glared at me and said, "This isn't the x-ray room!" (How many kids know what the x-ray room looks like at the hospital?!)

I had to admit that Mommy told a little lie to get her down to the room, and that all of her friends were here to surprise her for her birthday. I am so impressed with the nurses and One Very Cool Child Life Specialist. They pulled off a great party for one tired, very sick little girl tethered to her oxygen tank. They also decorated her room and brought presents! Even her teacher from school came to visit and brought a tiny little cake.

It's amazing how we can get through times like this, thanks to friends, family, and One Very Cool Child Life Specialist.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back to school

Yikes! It's that time already?!

I haven't done any shopping yet as far as clothes and school supplies. I should probably get started.

But I did just get the kid's Asthma Action Plans filled out by Asthma Doctor and mailed back to the school nurse. She thanks me profusely for actually taking the time to fill them out and return them. She said she is frustrated because she can send out 120 requests every school year, and usually gets 10 of them returned. If you have a child with a medical condition, wouldn't you want the faculty and staff to know they are asthmatic (or diabetic, have seizures, etc?!) How is the faculty or staff supposed to take care of my son or daughter if they don't know what medical condition they have, or what medicine to give them? I'm not about to leave that up to chance!

I want the kid's Asthma Action Plans filled out so that if I'm not around, their teachers will know what to do. In our school district, the nurse has a heavy school load and visits our school for about 3 hours a week, usually Thursday morning. So I tell the kids if they are going to have an asthma attack, be sure and time it during those hours. Just kidding!

We're usually on our own, I'm on of those moms who takes my cell phone everywhere I go. More than once I've had to take the nebulizer to school because #2 Son (with severe asthma) can't breathe deep enough to use his inhaler.

I'll also be checking last year's back packs for their asthma medication pouch. I need to see if the inhalers or epi pens have expired. In our state, if you have a "medication authorization form" filled out and signed by the parent and doctor, it is legal for students to carry their inhaler with them at all times. (Like I want their inhaler locked up in the office if they're out on the field during gym and have an asthma attack and need their inhaler!?)

I also need to check and make sure their spacer and peak flow meter are clean and packed.

Once I get those important things packed, then I'll start worrying about pens and pencils. And of course the perfect outfits for the kids.

I'll also have to visit with each and every teacher to make sure they know the kids have asthma, what to do if they have an asthma attack, and leave me cell number with them.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cleaning carpet

Ah, cleaning carpet. It's about as much fun as getting the tires balanced and rotated on the minivan (next on my list).

Luckily, the main living floor of our house has wood floors, which are recommended for people with asthma. I can keep them quite clean, because I can see all the dirt, dust bunnies and food particles that have dropped. And with teenagers around, they can get dirty in a hurry.

The downstairs level is another story. With another living room, dining room and kitchen, the downstairs gets a lot of use. This weekend #1 Son had a Star Wars movie marathon. There was a great group of college aged kids over and they weren't too messy. But with all the previous stains we decided to bite the bullet and get the carpets cleaned.

Our downstairs has Berber carpet, the unique smooth carpet seems to trap lest dirt and gunk than a 'pile' carpet. We've had the carpet cleaned in the past, but it still looks dirty. So we're trying a new system that uses a specially formulated hot water that is supposed to leave the carpet drier. The carpet cleaners claim they don't flood the carpet with water and soap, so there's no residue left behind. Apparently, that's what causes problems when the water and soap don't get sucked back out and instead is left down in the carpet. (Great breeding ground for all sorts of fun things). So we'll see how this system works. And I passed on the spray protect-ant. Even with the kids at the movie, I don't want anything sprayed on the carpet that could cause an asthma attack.

It will be interesting to see if this makes a difference with their allergies and asthma. Every little thing I can do to make the house a little cleaner helps, right?

Anyone else have any fun carpet cleaning stories? Has it seemed to help your asthma?