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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just call me professor

Just call me professor.

I'm guest lecturing about asthma in a class at a local university. I have all the supplies packed, nebulizer, peak flow meters, inhalers, discs, emergency medicine for the nebulizer, Epi pen, etc.

I was looking up the latest stats, it's a little surprising what they are.

According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America,

Every day in the US:

* 40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma
* 30,000 people have an asthma attack
* 5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma
* 1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma
* 11 people die from asthma

I never want to fall in that last statistic. However, we've been in the first four statistics numerous times.

It will be interesting to see what this class thinks about asthma, if I can just get them to understand what happens physically during an asthma attack, what can trigger it, how to treat it, and how serious it can be, I'll think it's well worth my time. I think people really down play asthma "just give them their inhaler and they'll be fine". But we all know it's not that easy.

I'm bringing 11 of the boy's plastic army guys for my visual aid. I'm going to set them up at the beginning of the lecture, them knock them over at the end to symbolize how many people will die today from an asthma attack. It's a sobering thought.

So, off I go to guest lecture. Maybe they'll bring an apple for the teacher.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vitamin D affecting asthma?

So we're at Asthma Doctor's office last week getting #2 son's Xolair shot. For those of you who have never heard of Xolair, it's for patients with moderate to severe asthma whose asthma is uncontrollable by traditional treatment plans.

My pale son, who likes to read and play computer is being asked by Asthma Doctor if we should check his Vitamin D level. Hmm, what makes him think that might be low? The fact that he spends little time in the sun?! It seems that those with low levels of Vitamin D are at higher risk for severe asthma symptoms. I'm all in favor of anything that can reduce his symptoms. It's not unusual for him to suddenly drop 150 points on his peak flow meter during an asthma attack.

It's been 2 1/2 years since he's been in the hospital, that's the longest he's gone without being admitted. They may have to give away our corner suite in pediatrics to someone else.

It's amazing what little things can affect asthma. #2 Son also suffers from acid reflux, which can also trigger problems with asthma.

We'll see what the lab report shows for his Vitamin D level. In the meantime, I'll have to tell him to put down the book, turn off the computer and go see the outside world. You know, the one that has sunlight and fresh air. Wish me luck.

Monday, September 20, 2010

smoke and asthma

There's a fire about 15-20 miles away. It was making us really nervous, we were wondering if the smoke would get to our house.

We could smell smoke from another fire that's about 100 miles away, but the smoke has drifted up here. The moon looked really pretty last night, but the smoke is unnerving. I made sure all the windows were closed and the air conditioner was on.

Smoke from a fire about 10 years ago put #2 Son in the hospital, on oxygen, IV steroids and on a heart monitor. Why the heart monitor? To give them a little advanced warning because they were waiting for him to "crash", then he would have been on a ventilator- on life support.

So smoke makes me very nervous. I was watching the live news casts last night wondering how the people near the fire were doing, especially those with asthma.

If you had to be evacuated from your house and had just minutes to grab a few things, what would you take? It makes you stop and think. Amongst the photo albums, I would make sure I would have the nebulizer and all the asthma medication.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Neti pots

 Neti pots. Neti whats?!

Ever try one? They look like a tiny plastic magic lamp or a squatty squeeze bottle with a pointed lid with a hole in it.

What is it for? It's for all of us plagued by allergies, it's a tool used with a saline rinse that cleans out your sinuses. Isn't that exciting? Well, not really- but necessary.

Sinus infections are really common for those with allergies, and they can trigger asthma attacks. Asthma Doctor said that Neti pots are as effective at antibiotics at clearing up sinus infections. (and since antiobiotics are overprescribed and their overuse is causing antibiotic resistant bacterias......)

You simply fill the neti pot with warm STERILE water and a packet of saline solution, you lean over the sink and squirt it up one nostril, tilt your head, and let it run out the other side. Then you switch nostrils. It's like jumping into a swimming pool without plugging your nose! It makes your eyes water and your nose run. But it's amazingly effective.

Sometimes when you've tried other options over and over again, you get frustrated and are willing to try anything. So, if you're at that point, you might consider a Neti pot. They're sold at most drug stores and are not that expensive. Remember to use sterile or distilled water each time. There have been rare cases of infections from contaminated water that led to brain infections. *shudder*

If you decide to try it, good luck and keep a box of tissues handy!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Any suggestions of things you want to hear about?

I can happily blog away about 10 years of experiences, some good and some bad.

But is there anything anyone wanted to hear about? Any questions? Confusion?

There's a lot out there when it comes to asthma, and everyone seems to have different experiences. So, if you want to hear about something, feel free to leave a comment!

Otherwise, I'll just keep blogging-

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Achoo! 1st cold of the school year

Well, here we go again. Achoo! Achoo! Achoo! Sore throats, running noses and coughing.

I was hoping at first that it was just allergies and that something in the pollen count was REALLY high, no such luck. The sore throat started, and I thought here we go.

I need to crack down again with my germiphobe precautions. I noticed Hubby and Kitty and I are all using the same tube of toothpaste. Great way to spread germs. I usually use separate tubes of toothpaste for each of us. Guess it's a little late for that for this cold.

And the toothbrushes are getting thrown out and fresh ones are replacing them once the cold is over. (You don't want to use old germ filled toothbrushes)

Also, I keep all the toothbrushes on separate shelves in the bathroom. (And NOT by the sink. I've heard that over spray from the toilet can spread over 5 feet in the bathroom - I don't know about you but I would rather not have toilet water on my toothbrush) Also, when kids wash their hands, they drip water and suds all over-including your toothbrush.

I also wash the hand towels at least once a week. And give each person their own hand towels to use- everyone can have a different color.

I don't mean to sound paranoid, but I heard two pediatricians talking the other day. And they said that about two weeks after school starts, their offices are flooded with sick kids. I would like to stay out of doctor's offices, thank you. And especially out of the hospital.

Since most of you with asthma know that a cold is seldom a simple cold, usually with asthma it goes into bronchitis or pneumonia.

So, it's better to be safe than sorry. All right kids, new toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes are getting passed out after school! Exciting, isn't it?!! Asthma is so much fun!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Putting things in perspective

This week, I was lucky enough to join a friend whose daughter was receiving her wish from Make A Wish foundation. The staff there showed us how the kids decide on a wish, then go inside a tower with a waterfall in the middle of the room to place their wish in a capsule.

Some kids wish for trips to Disneyworld or Hawaii. Others want a puppy or a laptop. One cute little toddler wanted his room to look like a fire station.

But the hardest part on reading the stories of these children and teenagers is to see why they were there in the first place. Some wish recipients had bone cancer, brain tumors, cystic fibrosis, leukemia, etc. Some stories ended by listing the child's death date. Yes, my kids all have asthma, but they're still alive! Don't get me wrong-asthma can be deadly as I was reminded of last month when "48 Hours" news reporter Harold Dow died of an asthma attack while driving his car. They found his inhaler on the floor of the car.

Here's the link -I hope it works. If not, just google "Harold Dow". You'll also find pages of stories of other people who have died of asthma attacks.

Anytime your kids are suffering, it can break your heart. Asthma is a chronic, life long disease for most people. I tell people my main goal with my kid's asthma is to keep them alive. People laugh, but it's true. But no matter how bad things get, (12 hospitalizations for asthma during a 3 or 4 years period) they can always be worse. Having a child with asthma doesn't compare to having a child with bone cancer, leukemia, brain tumors, cystic fibrosis, etc. My hats go off to those parents. And it makes me look at my own life and keep things in perspective.

And to Make A Wish Foundation-keep up the good work! You are making the last days for some of these children their happiest days.