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Monday, August 29, 2011

Pneumonia vaccine

(Google Images)

This is what you DON'T want your lungs to look like.

So should you get the pneumonia vaccine (Pneumovax 23?) According to, people ages 2-65 should get the vaccine if they are risk of developing pneumonia because of another disease (such as asthma, diabetes, lung disease or heart disease, alcoholism, liver or kidney disease.)

You should only get the pneumonia vaccine once. In special circumstances, they may give it again, but there is more of a possibility of more serious and frequent side effects. To read their advice, click here.

Son #2 had the vaccine when he was younger because he had already been hospitalized several times with pneumonia. His doctor recommended the vaccine, so we had it done. A couple of months later he wound up in the hospital (again) - with pneumonia! I was shocked! The nurse in the Pediatrics unit said "Well, it doesn't work on all strains of pneumonia and it doesn't work on all people." Just our luck.

I think if you have asthma, it's worth getting the vaccine. Since I have asthma, I decided to get the vaccine, as well as my daughter, Kitty, who also has asthma. We need all the help we can get since our lungs can often become inflamed and irritated. What is a cold to normal people often turns into pneumonia for us.

Check with your doctor to see what he recommends. After you (or your kids) get your pneumonia shot, take yourself (or your kids) out for a treat! Chocolate makes everything feel better!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Flu shots for asthma

(Google Images)

Funny cartoon about flu shots. It's that time of year again, I am waiting for the supply to come in at my local health department. If I get mine at the doctor's office, I have to first pay for a well check up for all 5 of us ($25 each-so $125) or I can wait for the health department to get their shipment.

I think I'll get mine at the local health department. I know they have the flu mist, but people with asthma aren't allowed to have the flu mist. Click here to find out why

Asthma falls into the category of "chronic medical condition" and the mist is made from a live, weakened virus. So it's not recommended for those of us with asthma.

But what's the big deal about a case of the flu anyway? Well, if you have asthma, you are more likely to develop pneumonia. Click here for more info

Two of my kids have been hospitalized a total of 12 different times for asthma and pneumonia. And it's not fun. In fact, it's one of the scariest things you can see as a parent.

So, be brave, get a flu shot and protect yourself! It may help you stay away from the hospital too!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

School classroom and asthma

(Google Images)

School started this week, and we went to Back to School Night to meet my daughter's teacher. Of course we had to fill out the emergency form listing her asthma, and talk to her teacher about that.

While I was there, I was able to see what Kitty's classroom looked like. I was relieved to see that it looked clean and uncluttered. (Yes, I know it is the start of the school year, so it's clean NOW...) but I was happy to see that there weren't piles of stuffed animals, a furry rug or oversized pillows in the classroom. I did see a couple of beanbag chairs for the kids to sit in while they read, but they were a smooth vinyl, and not fabric. That's a better surface to repel dirt and dust.

Also, the class was free of pets except for a salt water fish tank. Do some classrooms still have class pets? Lately, they're showing a Target commercial where the teacher has a guinea pig that she says she'll send home with each student to take care of. No thanks. I thought those days were over. Please keep pets out of the classroom!

Has anyone had an experience lately with a classroom pet? I'm curious to see if other schools allow those, ours is a pet free zone. Anyone had to babysit their child's classroom pet over the weekend? Pets and asthma don't usually go together, but each person is different. We don't have any pets, but do seem to be able to dogsit our neighbor's miniature schnauzer.

Let me know if any of you have run into problems with pets in the classroom

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sports and asthma

It's soccer season! Which is great, except that it's played on grass, and that is one of Kitty's triggers. She's been better since she's been doing allergy shots for the past 3 years, but sometimes it still bothers her. At least she doesn't have exercise induced asthma, that can make it a lot harder when you are playing sports.

Does your child's coach know what to do if your child has an asthma attack? We actually had a player that had an asthma attack on Saturday during the soccer game, and the coach didn't know what to do. Luckily, we found the player's mom, but what if she wasn't at the game? Or what if a player has an asthma attack at practice? Most parents drop their kids off for practice, but attend the games. No one there would know what to do to help my kids if they had an attack during practice.

There is a 20 minute FREE online training about asthma that was made for coaches (of course anyone who works with the youth should view it-scout leaders, recess guards, school secretaries, etc.)

Click here to do the training. It's called Winning with Asthma, and you can do it online (in your pajamas if you want!) There are a few questions at the beginning, then a few at the end (probably to see if we learned anything) Then they will send a FREE clipboard that has all the signs of an asthma attack printed on the back (and what to do.) It also comes with a small booklet that goes over everything that was in the online training. What coach doesn't want a clipboard? Especially one that has "WHAT TO DO DURING AN ASTHMA ATTACK" printed on it? (it lists symptoms of an asthma attack, what to do during an asthma attack, and when to call 911) The clipboard could come in very handy if a player has an asthma attack and the coach panics.

You may want to take the training yourself, everyone could use a refresher course about asthma, right? And send the link to your child's coach so they can take it too. We need the coaches to be able to help our kids if we're not there. Their lives depend on it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to school with asthma

I can't believe summer is over and it's Back to School Night next week for Kitty. The first thing we'll do when we meet Kitty's teacher is to let her know that Kitty has asthma. I'll make sure she also knows that how serious asthma is, and that Kitty has been hospitalized 4 times for asthma. (Not to mention countless doctor and ER visits.)

I also took a new Asthma Action Plan to Asthma Doc to fill out for this school year. I need her teacher to have a copy of that, so that when Kitty has an asthma attack, the teacher knows what to do. I found a great Asthma Action Plan online, click here for the link. The weird thing about asthma is that there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to asthma. Everyone has different triggers, different symptoms when they have an asthma attack, and different medications that they take to treat it. So, making sure Kitty's teacher knows what will trigger Kitty's asthma, what symptoms to watch for and what medication she takes to treat it are very important.

I also filled out a new Self Administration Form so Kitty can legally carry her inhaler with her at all times. Did you know that it's legal in every state in the U.S. for kids to carry their inhaler with them in school? BUT they must fill out a form and have the doctor sign it. Click here for a link to the form our state uses.

I also feel a little better knowing our school nurse tracks students with medical conditions, so she has come to know my kids quite well over the years! I also make sure the people in the front office know about the kid's asthma, since they are often times the first one notified if someone has an asthma attack. I want people to know so they can keep an eye out for Kitty. I'm at work, and must rely on other people during the school day to help if my kids have an asthma attack. They can treat themselves, but I like to know there is someone supervising and helping them.

Once Kitty's Back to School Night is done, we'll head over to Son #2's school and repeat the same process......but if that's what it takes to protect my kids, I will gladly do it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Asthma ruins record attempt for swimming


Many of you may have watched Diana Nyad getting ready to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida-at age 61! Wow!

I thought it was an interesting story, but then I really paid attention when I heard that she had to end her swim because of asthma. She was only half way into her swim when she had to stop. She was very upset and has been training for this swim for 2 years. But asthma isn't something you can plan for. She said she used her inhaler 40 times during the 29 hour swim and even used some oxygen, but she couldn't beat her asthma.

I think people that don't have asthma don't understand what asthma can do to your body. They may take for it for granted that they can breathe, but when you can't breathe and aren't getting the oxygen you need, it just wipes you out. You are so tired and weak, that whatever you have planned to do is probably going to have to be cancelled. It's hard to explain to someone that doesn't have asthma, but for those of you who do have asthma, you know what I am talking about.

Click here to see the story about Diana Nyad and attempting to swim the ocean.

I take my hat off to her, I am very impressed by her effort. The video even shows her floating on her back and inhaling oxygen. Anytime you need oxygen, things can get a little scary. But even getting oxygen wasn't enough to keep her going. What an amazing woman. I just keep hoping that someday they'll find a cure for asthma.

Until then, I have my own version of Dory's mantra from the Disney movie "Finding Nemo." Instead of saying "just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming," I say "just keep breathing, just keep breathing, just keep breathing."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Changing pillow cases for allergies

(Google Images/

I was at the pharmacy (yes, again) and was chatting with the Pharmacy Technician. As we were chatting about allergies and asthma, she mentioned a great idea to deal with allergies. She puts on a new pillow case every few days.

Now, anyone without allergies would think she was crazy and it's a waste of time. For those of us with allergies, who wake up sneezing and wheezing at night, it's a great idea! Many people don't realize that you get pollen in your hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and on your skin at the end of the day. There are several things you can do before you go to bed. My Asthma Doc suggests:

  • Shower EVERY night before you go to bed. This removes the pollen and will allow you to have a better nights sleep.

  • Sleep with the windows closed (to keep out any more pollen)

  • Use air condition (central air) rather than a swamp cooler

  • If you don't want to shower at night (it does help!) consider changing your pillow case every few days so you're not sleeping on a pollen covered pillow

Just a few ideas. The problem with allergies (with our family anyway) is there always seems to be something high on the allergy charts. Spring, Summer and Fall, it never lets up. It can be trees, flowers, bushes, weeds, molds, you name it. Something is always bothering us.

At least with a cold, your sniffing and sneezing is limited to a few days or week at most. With allergies, it goes on, and on, and on, and on.

So-just a few ideas to help you sleep better. If anyone has any ideas that work for them, I would love to hear them. Otherwise, keep breathing!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chocolate cake? Not so fast!

(Google Images/

Who doesn't love chocolate cake? Well, I do have one friend who can't stand to be around it.....bad memories from morning sickness.

But, for the rest of us, chocolate cake is a slice of heaven. We were at a family party last night, and I put two different slices of cake on my plate for Hubby and I. One had nuts sprinkled on the top, the other had coconut.

I told Son #2 that they had chocolate cake for dessert, but one had nuts on the top. But they were in separate pans, so he could get a slice of the coconut covered cake instead. And my brilliant son said, "No thanks mom. I'm not sure if they used the same utensils to serve both cakes, so I better pass" This is the son that is allergic to nuts. Have I trained him well, or what?!

We're always on the look out for nuts and seafood. Son #2 has to watch for nuts, and I usually inspect the desserts first, but I have to admit I was a little lax last night. I'm glad he decided to pass on the cake. Usually, we'll make sure he gets the first slice of a dessert if there's another dessert nearby that has nuts, just to avoid any cross-contamination. People aren't very careful about serving spoons or spatulas, they freely pass them back and forth from one pan to another.

Which also means a problem for me since I have a seafood allergy. Seafood can show up in the strangest places. I RSVP'd to a luncheon and workshop and they asked if I had any food allergies, and of course I mentioned seafood. It was a BBQ theme, so I thought I should be okay. Well, who would have thought they would put shrimp in BBQ beans?! Luckily, I noticed that BEFORE putting any beans on my plate. But it just goes to show that even if you tell people you have food allergies and assume they won't serve what you are deathly allergic to, they do. I always carry an Epi Pen, and so does Son #2. We haven't had to use it yet....

So, be careful. I recently read an article that said tree nuts and seafood are lifelong allergies. So I'll keep inspecting everything we eat. It gets old after a while, but hey! I have this funny thing about keeping myself and my kids breathing and alive.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Camping with asthma

(Google images/destination360.c0m)

I have to admit I'm a little nervous to go camping. Hubby usually takes Son #1 and Son #2 (both scouts) but Kitty and I stay home (I love my nice, soft bed-not to mention air conditioning!)

Last summer, Hubby pitched the tent in the back yard so Kitty could "camp out." The smores were delicious (even if they were cooked in the microwave in the house.) But when I went to crawl into my sleeping bag, the dirt in the tent from the previous campout was overwhelming. I instantly started coughing, and couldn't stop. Why was I the only one that was having a problem with the tent? Kitty has asthma and is currently doing weekly allergy shots. She just looked at me with raised eyebrows as I was struggling to breathe. She was just fine and ended up spending the whole night in the tent. I went inside for a treatment, and stayed inside! Hellllooooo nice soft bed and clean air.

Asthma is so hard to understand, there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to asthma. We all have different triggers, and our bodies react differently to triggers. It can be a mild reaction to down right dangerous. And you can encounter new triggers that have never bothered you before.

So, we'll see how it goes this weekend. Of course I am packing my peak flow meter, Advair, Zyrtec, Albuterol inhaler, nebulizer, albuterol vials and an adapter so we can use the nebulizer in the car. We may not need all of that, but you never know......

I should put travel stickers on the nebulizer, it's been to Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, Newport beach in California, and Cannon beach in Oregon. Sure, it may stay in the car the whole time, but I would never think of leaving it at home. It would be the one time that we would leave it at home that we would need it - Murphy's law you know!

So, we'll try to enjoy the campout and relax knowing that I have all the medicine I need. And I am already anticipating s'mores. Mmmmm, melted chocolate dripping down my fingers. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Asthma drugs going generic-yay!

(AP Phot0/Matt Rourke)

I just read an article about prescription drugs that will be going generic within the next 14 months. Included in the article was a mention of asthma drugs. Wahoo! I'm a little excited for what this means for patients, it will mean a loss of money for the pharmacy companies, but it's good news for us. My husband and I and all 3 kids have allergies. And all 3 kids and I have asthma. So, we are at the pharmacy A LOT!

In fact, it's a little embarassing that all I do is walk up towards the counter, and they simply reach behind them for the prescription for Hubby/Me/Son #1/Son #2/Kitty.

Asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol lowering medication, depression, bi-polar disorder and medication for HIV are all going generic. (I wish I knew WHICH asthma medications were going generic......) Click here to read the story.

It's a little sad to see people are going without medication because they can't afford it. In the article, the doctors said they can always tell patients with high blood pressure or high cholesterol that are not taking their medication. They can't hide that during a check-up when their blood pressure is sky-high or a blood test shows they still have high cholesterol.

We found a resource that helps with medications, it's called Needy Meds. Click here for their website. They have different foundations and programs that can help with co-pays on medication.

Son #2 receives Xolair injections once a month, and our co-pay is $150. (That's in addition to all the other asthma and allergy medications we pay for)

Needy Meds is updated regularly and is a free service. Each program there is a little different, but we are able to get help with our monthly $150 co-pay.

Check it out, it can help until the prescription medications start to go generic in the next 14 months! And even then, they can still help with co-pays.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Heat as an asthma trigger

(Google images/

I know we are in the middle of a heat wave across most of the county, and I have been struggling, along with a lot of people.

Luckily, we installed central air in our home several years ago. But, I can't hide out there forever! I do have to go to work, and we enjoy taking walks in the evening with the kids. (The mosquitos especially love it when I go walking in the evenings, the nasty little blood suckers! They bit me 10 times in one night, my legs look like I have chicken pox!)

But I have really been struggling to breathe as we walk in the evenings, and I wondered how much of that was due to asthma. I don't think I'm THAT out of shape!

I found a story online from News25abc out of Evansville, IN about the heat and asthma. Click here to see the story. I knew there was some connection between heat and asthma! I hate this asthma body sometimes, I get so tired of it overreacting to every little thing. If it's not the heat causing problems, it's my beautiful flower bed I love to putter around in, the neighbor's dog or cat, someone mowing the lawn - and on and on.

At least I'm still alive and breathing, I shouldn't complain. But how do you avoid heat as a trigger? Stay inside at home or work? I'm not going to spend the rest of my summer locked inside. I carry a water bottle filled with ice (yes, cold temperatures also triggers asthma attacks for me) but it seems to help balance the heat.

If it's not one thing, it's another-or ten other. These crazy asthma bodies of ours! Anybody have any ideas of what helps when the heat or humidity trigger an asthma attack?