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Friday, April 29, 2011

Changing asthma medicine

How do you know if you need to change your asthma medicine?

I recently visited Asthma Doc, for my own checkup actually-I'm usually there with the kids.

I hadn't been in for a while for a checkup. Asthma Doc was checking on how often I use my inhaler every week (I don't use it very much )He also did the Exhaled Nitric Oxide (ENO) test on me. It was pretty simple, just breathing into a little machine that measure the amount of Nitric Oxide in my body. Asthma Doc said Nitric oxide is made when there's swelling or inflammation.

My number was great, you should be between 5-25 and I was right in that range. So Asthma Doc cut down my daily medication. That's one of those things that you need to watch. Sometimes you may need to take more controller or maintenance medication every day, if your symptoms seem to be worse. (If you are using your inhaler more than twice a week, if you are wheezing and coughing-especially at night)

Sometimes you can cut down on your medicine if you don't have any of those symptoms. I was able to cut down my medications this time.

You can also get stuck in a rut with what medication you take, so make sure you are having regular checkups and watching your symptoms. You may need to take more, or cut back on what you are taking.

Just one more thing to watch when you have asthma.

It's a good idea to have regular checkups with your doctor.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alternative to peanut butter?

I was at Asthma Doc's office last week for Son #2 to get his Xolair injection (monthly shot to help control his severe asthma) and I was reading the latest addition of Coping with Allergies and Asthma and they had an add in the magazine for Sunbutter.

Apparently it's made with roasted sunflower seeds and it's supposed to be an alternative to peanut butter.

Has anyone tried it yet? None of my kids are allergic to peanut butter, but one of my kids is allergic to tree nuts. Everyone thinks if you are allergic to tree nuts, you are allergic to peanuts too. But peanuts are actually a legume (or from the "bean" family) and tree nuts are from -well, trees! (think almonds, walnuts, etc)

Let me know if any of you have tried the Sunbutter and if it seemed a good substitute for peanut butter. Althougth my kids aren't allergic to peanuts, we are careful if someone else around us is.

Happy eating!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ha! Caught! Exhaled Nitric oxide detectors

Asthma Doctor has this great little machine that he tested Son #2 on at this month's Xolair appointment. (Xolair is his monthly shot that controls his severe asthma. It's $1000 per injection, but cheaper than a hospital visit!)

Anyway, Asthma Doc was asking Son #2 if he was taking his asthma medication. There was a little hesitation, then son answered yes. But there is one sure way to find out!

The Exhaled Nitric oxide detector. It takes about 5 seconds to do, he just exhaled into a little machine and tried to keep his breath steady. It measures Nitric oxide in his breath. Asthma Doc said Nitric Oxide is what the body makes when there is inflammation (common with asthma) so it's a good test to see how they are doing.

The average range is 5-25, Son #2 was at 40. Which means either he is not taking his daily medication, or it's not working as it should. We're monitoring him now to make sure he takes it every morning (nag, nag, nag)

And we'll see again next month what his number is. It's a cool little machine and amazing that it can detect inflammation in the lungs. What will they think of next? If you haven't tried it yet, ask your doctor about it.

You may be surprised to find out you perfect chilren are not taking their medication like they are supposed to. Son #2, you are busted!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Has anyone used a yurt at the beach?

keepitsurreal, Creative commons

We're traveling to visit family and I've been looking at some options online that my family suggested. Has anyone stayed in a yurt at the beach?

I found a photo of this one online at Oregon Coast yurt rentals. When I first looked up pictures of yurts online, I found one that looked like The First Little Piggy's house (you know-the one made out of sticks that the Big Bad Wolf blows down!)

My first thought was that the sticks would be a problem with allergies. Allergies, allergies, why is always allergies?!

The yurts look interesting, but some of them have canvas roofs and a hatch that you can open to let fresh air inside. (which also means pollen and allergens inside.) And they all look like they are in the woods. Hubby takes the kids camping every summer, but I worry every time he does. Our family and allergies do not mix.

I'm always so careful when it comes to housing, I almost feel like Melman from the cartoon Madagascar. "Nature, it's everywhere!"

Don't get me wrong, I love the beach. In fact my kids know that after they make their millions, they have to buy a beach house in Kauai for their amazing mom. (and a nice little convertible to go with it) I can happily putter in the sand for days.

But I also need a place to clean up and shut out the allergens so I can sleep at night.

Any ideas from anyone? Anyone every stayed in a yurt before? Or even heard of a yurt before?

Let me know if anyone has any ideas-

Monday, April 18, 2011

So, what causes an asthma attack?

It's not a simple answer, different things can cause an asthma attack for different people. And it can change over time, but here's what caused an asthma attack for me on Friday night.

Weird, huh? Yogurt?! I know that one of my triggers is cold temperatures, so I've always been careful. I haven't had a Gogurt in years, and I don't know why it affected me so much. But as soon as I had eaten the Gogurt, the 'hard' cough started and I could just feel my chest tightening up. Then came the mucus in the lungs. Fun stuff!

I used my inhaler, but still was having a hard time breathing, I had to prop myself up on the couch to sleep that night. Of course that was after my heart rate had finally slowed back down.

What else can cause asthma attacks? Any 'irritant' like perfume, cleaning supplies, scented candles, bad air quality.

Also allergens-animals, flowers, trees, grass, pollen, mold, dust, cockroaches, even food (I am allergic to seafood, Son #2 is allergic to tree nuts)

Respiratory infections are another cause or "trigger" of asthma attacks. Even exercise can trigger an attack. So can strong emotions. Son #2 has a great belly laugh, but once he starts, the cough always follows.

It helps to write down what you ate or were around at the time of the asthma attack. Sometimes you may never know. I had an asthma attack at a national retail store while I was shopping for a baby gift. I still have no idea what caused it.

Make sure you have an inhaher handy too, because asthma can be unpredictable.

It may take a little detective work, but keep a little notebook nearby to record what you ate or were around, because each person in your family can have different triggers.

The best thing is to avoid what causes your asthma attacks, I will never eat another Gogurt again. I eat plain yogurt all the time, and may cough a little, but nothing like Friday night. I don't know if the Gogurt was thicker or somehow colder, or what caused the problem. Everyone else in the family can eat them and not have a problem.

It just goes to show that everyone is different and every asthma cause or "trigger" can be different too. Know what yours (or your kid's ) are and avoid them. And we'll all live Happily Ever After!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Summer camp for kids with asthma

Kitty came home with a flier from school about summer camp, but I thought not a chance! Neither of her brothers (who also have asthma) have gone to the school district sponsored summer camp, and neither will Kitty.

Sorry, but it is just WAY too far away from medical help if she had an asthma attack that they couldn't treat. And I don't think I would feel comfortable with a elementary school student needing to treat her own asthma at a summer camp.

Sure, they have trained personnel, but they also take care of diabetes, seizure disorders and general first aid. They don't specialize in asthma, and I wouldn't trust them to treat any of my kids.

However, I did find one in our state, it's called Camp Wyatt and it's sponosored by the American Lung Association. Now they know what they are doing when it comes to asthma! Not to mention Asthma Doc provides care for the campers. I would trust him wherever he was.
This camp is specifically designed for kids with asthma, they can do all of the regular things (canoeing, swimming, rock climbing, etc) plus they teach the kids about asthma management. And monitor their peak flow twice a day. It's a bit expensive, but there are "camperships" available for the kids. Here's a link to the camp for our state I noticed on Google that there were links to asthma camps for other states. Check it out-what's more fun that being out in nature and eating smores? Kitty's a little shy, if I can just convince her to go......they also want Son #2 to go and be a camp counselor. And I could volunteer as well. Hhmmm this is sounding better all the time!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Red noses and allergies

The Cupid from the new Disney Tangled movie is how I feel lately. (He's the little guy in the front) I have a big red nose from blowing and wiping it from allergies, and sleepy eyes because the sniffling and sneezing sometimes keep me awake. Of course I am taller (a bit) and I do have all my teeth.

Many of you may be suffering from allergies, I know I am. In fact, we have gone through A LOT of tissues lately. I just opened my last box, I need to remember to put that on the grocery store list.

There is one thing that I have found that helps, it's not that exciting of a tip, but any little bit helps, right?!

I have found that when you are wiping a runny nose all of the time or just blowing it over and over, and it gets really sore and really red. So, I have found Puffs brand tissues with lotion. Ah, what a difference.

Like I say, it's not an earth shattering discovery, but sometimes it's as exciting as it gets. And every little bit helps during allergy season.

So, if your nose is starting to look like Cupid from the Disney Tangled movie, head to the store and buy Puffs brand tissues with lotion. It really seems to make a difference.

Happy sniffling and sneezing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tip #8 Shower before bed

It sounds really simple, but if you have allergies, it helps to shower before bed. Asthma Doc told me this one day, and I don't know why it seemed like such an amazing idea. You would think I could have figured it out by myself. It hadn't dawned on me though.

If you are out and about during the day, you accumulate a lot of pollen on your clothing, hair, face, etc. You may wash your face every night before bed, and change into pajamas, but that still leaves pollen in your hair.

When you go to bed at night with pollen in your hair, you roll back and forth on the pillow all night long, spreading it all over and breathing it in. It can cause coughing and wheezing, watering eyes, stuffy noses and the usual miserable things associated with allergies and asthma.

I was reminded of this last night when I went to bed. I had gone on a bike ride with Kitty and Hubby, and it was still very chilly but at least the sun was shining.

I started coughing a little while after our bike ride, then continued to do so ALL night long. I didn't sleep well because of it. So why is it I make sure the kids shower every night before bed, but I don't bother to do it for myself? Kind of like how moms take care of everyone else except for themselves.....

I was even talking to a friend about it last week. She has a daughter with asthma who coughs all night long. I suggested her daughter shower before bed, to see if it makes a difference.

I just talked to her today and she said it has dramatically decreased her daughter's coughing. I know it works for all 3 of my kids too.

So, now that things are blooming and pollen is flowing freely, think about showering before bed. It may help reduce your suffering and help you sleep better at night.

Happy dreams!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hawaii and asthma

Now that I am almost done with my new college degree (to add to my Interior Design degree), I would love to go to Hawaii to reward myself for all of my hard work!

I deserve a do-over you know. Hubby and I went there several years ago (luckily a family member has a time share.) But it was anything but relaxing. Son #2 was sick when we left-when isn't he sick? He has regular respiratory infections and ends up on steroids and antibiotics multiple times throughout the year.

So, I didn't think this episode was any different. However, the night before we left, he said he chest felt different this time. A sharp pain. Hhhmm. Our flight left at 4:00 the next morning. So I told him I would call him from our layover in LA.

When we arrived, I called him but he still didn't sound good, so I called Asthma Doc to have Wonderful Neighbor take him in to get checked. We had to board our flight, but I was sure it would just be another infection, more steroids and more antibiotics.

When we landed in Hawaii we found out that he had a partially collapsed lung. Now what?! Asthma Doc said it was lucky we brought him in when we did because he gave him a shot of Decadron (a powerful steroid) that would probably keep him out of the hospital. But that if they had to admit him, they would. We could just stay and enjoy Hawaii.

Yeah, I'll relax alright. With a kid that sick?! Great, now I have guilt. It's no wonder Hubby and I never travel, we've only left the kids a few times, and asthma is why!

Son #2 was struggled all weekend, then took a turn for the worst. So, I called Asthma Doc's nurse at home, and they actually tracked him down at church. What a guy! He met Son #2 and Wonderful Neighbor at his office, then they went for a chest x-ray at the hospital.

They didn't end up admitted him, and he turned the corner and started to improve. We checked into leaving then and flying home, but Asthma Doc said he would be fine.

Son #2 needed to rest and relax and let his body heal. Hellllooo video games! He ended up being fine, but needless to say, we didn't enjoy the trip. We spent a lot of time on the phone, and also sent a lot of text messages to get updates on his peak flow numbers and how he was feeling.

I would love to go back to Hawaii, I do need a do-over. What are the odds of having him get sick again? And having another partially collapsed lung? Do we dare plan try another trip?

I'm looking out the window at a very dreary rainy day, Hawaii sounds great about now. There's always that whole budget thing. Maybe next year. Until then, I'll just change my screen saver to a picture of Hawaii, aaaahhhh. I feel better already.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The sound of coughing in the morning

Ah, morning again. And I wake up to the sound of coughing-deep coughing.

Oh wait. It's spring and I'm supposed to wake up to the sound of birds chirping, not one of my kids coughing, right? Such is my life.

I'm usually slow to wake up, but I was instantly awake this morning. I could tell it was Son #2 coughing, it's funny how you can tell how it sounds when each one of your kids coughs-especially when they have asthma. Just like when they're babies, you can tell which baby is yours in a crowded room just by the sound of their cry.

So I have to start planning. First I thought I'll send him to school, and see if Wonderful Neighbor can be on stand by with the nebulizer. He just doesn't seem to get any relief from using his inhaler.

Then I had second thoughts. Hubby is already at work an hour away, and I am about to leave for a professional development conference an hour's drive away. So I don't feel comfortable sending him to the high school. I'll let him sleep a little, then check him before I leave. I think it's one of those illnesses where you just have to let nature take it's course.

This is just My Life as an Asthma Mom. Asthma always hits at the worst time, and each one of the kids is a little different as to how they respond.

So, we're stocked up with the nebulizer and Xopenex. And if his peak flow is too low, I'll have to just skip my conference and stay home. He's pretty good to let me know if he can just muddle through, or if he's worried it's getting worse. I always have a bottle of Prednisone at home for each one of the kids.

That's option number one when he gets sick and his number on his peak flow drops drastically. Son #2 has severe asthma and has been hospitalized 8 times, with 2 of those, he came close to losing his life. So we keep a close eye on him.

So, off I go to check on him. Either I will head to my conference, or I'll be staying home to watch him.

I love my life! And I have this thing about liking my kids to breathe. I'm so picky......

Monday, April 4, 2011

From mowing lawns to shoveling snow

From mowing the lawn Saturday to shoveling snow Sunday! Welcome to spring in Utah. And boy are we miserable! Hubby was mowing the lawn on Saturday, and my daffodils were all in bloom. Along with some sneaky little dandelions that are starting to sprout. (Of course I zapped them with my weedkiller-die! die!)

Now that everything is blooming, we are all sneezing. I think we have gone through a whole box of tissue in about a week. Wonderful neighbor came over and mentioned how bad her allergies are (she has asthma too.) I even heard one of the local dj's on the radio complaining about allergies.

So, here we go again. I am lucky enough to just need allergy medicine in the spring and summer, but the kids take it year round because their allergies are so bad. Kitty sneezes non stop, even after 3 years of allergy shots. Even with the snow storm, we were still sneezing all day yesterday, how is that possible?!

The snow has blanketed everything, yet that doesn't stop us from having allergies. And believe it or not, today (Monday) I am looking out my window, and almost all of the snow has melted from my lawn.

So, more allergies. For people who don't have allergies, they have no idea what it's like. They may whine because they have a cold for a week. Think of a cold that never goes away, it gets better and worse, but never goes away. And everywhere we go, I have to carry packs of tissues. They're in the house, my car, my purse, the kid's back packs.

It's miserable and never ending. But, we're alive and breathing, so that's all that matters. And I would like to keep it that way.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pulling kids out of school

Pulling kids out of school

So I know this sounds drastic, but we actually did this for Son #2. He had been down about 100 points on his peak flow, and just couldn't seem to rebound. He had struggled for about 3 months, all during the winter and into spring.

Usually, he can do a burst of steroids and he'll start to come back up. Sometimes he needs a Decadron injection (more steroids.) That usually does the trick, however nothing seemed to be working. Even increasing his Advair to the maximum dose did nothing.

So, there we were in Asthma Doc's office (again.) Asthma Doc was smoothing out his bangs, which he always does while he is thinking. I could see him flipping back and forth on Son #2's chart and then listening to his lungs. Then more smoothing of the bangs. Finally he said "We need to pull him out of school."

I said, "Wait. What?" Asthma Doc was concerned that Son #2 wasn't able to let his body fully heal after every respiratory infection. He needed to be pulled out of school, let his body rest and recover, and avoid being around the other sick students.

My first thought was "If you think I'm going to home school him, you're crazy!" However, our school district has a system set up just for this. If they need to miss a month of school or less, the district will arrange for a tutor from your school to visit your home. They will bring all assignments from all 8 teachers, help with homework, then take the completed homework back to the school. If it is longer than a month, a district tutor would be set up.

There are students needing this for a variety of reasons, they can be in car accidents, being treated for cancer, recovering from surgery, etc.

So, Son #2 was home for a month! I work part time, so I needed to adjust my schedule. Then Wonderful Neighbor helped out too. I had to be there during all tutoring sessions and also help with homework. It was a slow process, but he finally started to turn the corner. Asthma Doc was right, he needed to rest and let his body heal. And it helped not being around a germ infested junior high.

So, it is a drastic step, but sometimes kids with severe asthma need it. I felt more at peace, not having to run to the school for breathing treatments (inhaler just doesn't cut it for Son #2.) And I didn't feel like I was on edge all the time, checking his breathing.

Something to think about-it really seemed to work after we had tried everything else. And I had some great bonding time with my son, it doesn't get much better than that!