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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The dentist and asthma attacks

The Dentist

Da da dum. (Cue dramatic music)

I have always prided myself on having strong teeth. I get my teeth cleaned twice a year and rarely have any cavities. So when my tooth started hurting last weekend, I was a little concerned. The dentist office was able to find room on their schedule to see me a few hours after I called on Monday morning.

Was I in for a shock! My dentist originally thought there was a piece of debris in between the teeth. I knew it wasn't that simple, I floss my teeth and hadn't noticed anything. He started tapping on one the right side molar to see if it bothered me. Nope. Then he tapped on the left molar. Maybe a little discomfort. Then he got a piece of ice and held it on the right side. No problem. Then he held it on the left side molar. I about jumped out of the chair. The dentist's little blue light showed a crack in my molar.

All of a sudden he was injecting me with numbing medicine so he could start drilling out my old filling. Then he found saw a nerve. Suddenly he was inserting all sorts of metal tools in my mouth to quickly fill the tooth (and cover the root) until I could get to the specialist.

I started to panic because he hadn't explained what was going on and I started to have a hard time breathing. I couldn't use my inhaler (because I couldn't talk to tell him I needed my inhaler!) So I started to belly-breathe. It's a simple little thing to do, but helps when you need to calm down and get your breathing under control.

You simply breathe in (deeply) and breathe out slowly. It helps you take deep breathes rather than the short, shallow breaths that happen when you are having a hard time breathing. Sometimes we can almost pant when we breathe (yep, just like a dog.)

Did you know that the word 'asthma' is actually the Greek word for panting? So the next time you start panting, or breathing shallow and fast. Stop! Take a deep breathe in........... and slowly let it out. I can feel my whole body start to relax when I do it.

It didn't fix my tooth, but it helped me stay calm while the dentist was working on it.

Try it sometime!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Asthma attack in the car

I was looking at bright, new colored purses for Spring, but have a hard time finding one big enough to carry my inhaler and spacer (along with everything else a mom has to carry-wallet, bandaids, fingernail clippers, chapstick, lotion, Dramamine, Advil, cough drops, tissues, etc.) It's funny how Hubby and kids always expect me to magically have everything they need tucked away in my purse. You can see my inhaler and spacer peeking out of the top of my purse-that's probably the most important thing I carry.

I make sure I ALWAYS have my inhaler and spacer with me, you never know when an asthma attack is going to hit. I take a daily controller medication, but I still have asthma attacks. This weekend, we were driving to visit family who live 5 hours away. About half way through the trip, I suddenly started sneezing. Then I could feel my chest tighten up-slurp! Then the coughing started. Here we go again, another asthma attack. Of course I had my inhaler with me, and it works like magic! Hubby said the pollen count on the news said that cottonwood trees were in the "extra high" category. So are willow trees, cedar trees, sycamore and elm trees. We were driving along the mountain range and passed plenty of open land with cows grazing. So there was a lot of "nature"- it could have been anything that was triggering my asthma attack.

I battled my asthma all weekend. It was fine if I was in the house, but it was such a gorgeous day that I decided to open up the doors and enjoy the fresh breeze and sunshine. Ha! Silly me. That lasted about 5 minutes before I started sneezing and coughing again! All weekend, as we drove around in the car, Hubby would put the windows down to "enjoy the fresh air". I would immediately start sneezing and coughing-it's so annoying! Why can't we just enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, like normal people? But nooooo, we have to have allergies and asthma. Guess that means we won't buy a convertible!

My asthma was finally feeling better when a weird thing happened as we were driving home-we were at the half way mark again when I suddenly started sneezing and coughing again. I had to use my inhaler again. Whatever we passed on the way to visit family was the same thing we drove through on the way home. I don't know what trees, bushes or whatever else we drove by, but it came through the vent system and started another asthma attack. I still wasn't feeling better when we got home, so I had to use my inhaler again.

When it was time for bed, I couldn't get to sleep. The albuterol kept me up for at least an hour. I felt like I had several glasses of Dr. Pepper. Fun little side effects of asthma.

But, albuterol keep us breathing, so I like to keep it handy. Even if I do have to buy a king-sized purse to fit it in with all the other things I carry around....

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weather changes and asthma

The top photo is what my daffodils looked like on Saturday. The next photo is what the daffodils looked like on Monday. Huh? Covered in 6 inches of snow?!

This is typical weather for where I live in the spring. One day can be warm and sunny, then the next day can give us 6 inches of snow on the lawn. We are expecting the same thing to happen this weekend. I searched through my dresser yesterday to find my shorts and will happily wear them this weekend. But on Monday, the weather is supposed to drop 20 or 30 degrees and it will rain and snow again.

This can cause problems with asthma. Many people don't know that changes in weather can be an asthma 'trigger' - or cause an asthma attack. My lungs are wondering what is going on! First it's warm and dry, then suddenly it's cold and wet! My lungs Do NOT like that much change. Even though I am on a maintenance medication (one I take every day for asthma) I still have 'twitchy' lungs. My lungs feel really irritated and I feel as though I am constantly on the verge of coughing.

So, what to do? For me it's easier to stay inside when the weather is being a little crazy. My lungs don't like going from warm, dry air to suddenly having cool and wet air. Everyone who has asthma is different, and many of us have different things that trigger asthma attacks. So the important thing to know is what causes problems for you. The changes in weather do trigger asthma attacks for me. So you won't find me out playing in the snow after wearing shorts the day before!

It is spring now, but where you live may not have big changes in weather like we do. But if you do have big changes in weather, watch your asthma and keep your inhaler handy. Just in case...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ah, the joys of getting older

(Shutterstock image)

I was just reading an article in the March 2012 Family Circle magazine, entitled "Not Just For Kids." The article, written by Christine Mattheis, mentions things adult can experience, not just kids or teenagers-lactose intolerance, acne and asthma. Of course the asthma section caught my eye. One thing I found interesting is the article is that changing estrogen levels during menopause can cause inflammation in the airways. I haven't heard that before, I would like to read the research behind that study.

Another thing it mentions is that adults that are newly diagnosed are more likely to have problems daily. Lucky you! They may have:
  • pressure or tightness in the chest
  • dry cough-especially at night
  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing (a little whistling sound when you breathe out)
  • a cold that seems to go 'to the chest' or lasts longer than normal
The article goes on to tell readers to talk to their doctor and see what medication will work best for them. Some people with asthma may only need a rescue/emergency/fast acting inhaler. But some people need a daily controller/maintenance medication.

I have had asthma all my life, so this article didn't worry me too much. But for those of you adults who don't have asthma.......just something else to look forward to as you get older. Ah, the joys of aging!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Insurance companies......

Insurance Companies.......aaarrgghhhhhh

Yesterday, I took daughter Kitty to Asthma Doc for her annual checkup. Her Singulair prescription had expired, so I realized it must have been a year already since her last check up. Of course, we're in the office every week for allergy shots, so I didn't realize it had been so long since an "official" visit.

I had to take time off work, check her out of school, and drive to their office in another city. After her check up, I thought that as long as I was there, I might as well have her do her weekly allergy shots. But, nooooooooo. Insurance Company won't pay for a doctor's visit and an allergy shots on the same day. Huh? Can someone explain to me why they won't?!

This means that now I have to take time off work again today, pick her up from school again, and drive to Asthma Doc's office in another city. AGAIN!!!! This makes no sense to me. Why do I have to come back on another day? Take more time off work? Check her out of school again? Just because they decide they won't pay for a check up and allergy shots one the same day?! And insurance companies wonder why their clients get frustrated? If they can give me a good explanation for this rule, I would like to know what it is.

Like many moms, I work full time, so trying to get Kitty to the office once a week for allergy shots is no easy task. Either I have to take time off work, or Hubby has to take time off work to drive her there. And for all of you that are doing allergy shots for yourself or your kids, you know that the whole series of shots can take between 3 and 5 years. So these weekly visits get REALLY old. So having to drive there twice in a week is annoying. My car practically drives itself to Asthma Doctor's office these days.

I think insurance companies are a love/hate relationship. This rule of "no allergy shots the same day as a check up" is ridiculous. However, I do appreciate the fact that they will cover Xolair injections for Son #2. I have heard of a large insurance company in my area who won't cover Xolair injections. And for those of you who get the monthly injections for your asthma, know that the price is over $1000 per shot. So I am happy they are covering that.

So, what do you do when your insurance company is causing you stress? Grumble. Write about it on your blog. And grumble some more.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The wood floor saga continues

So, Hubby is making progress on Neighbor's wood floors. If you have been reading this blog, you know that Neighbor has a Little Dog who also has a little bladder. Little Dog has been peeing on the nice, thick carpet at Neighbor's house. Neighbor wanted to see if she could get one area of her carpet clean that the professionals said wouldn't come clean. We decided to check it with a black light and see if all of the pee came out. Well, we both about passed out after the majority of the room lit up with pee.

Neighbor decided to take out the carpet and refinish the wood floors that are original to the home. This is what they looked like over the weekend. Hubby has been applying the varnish. Yes, all of the windows are open and the furnace is turned off. It is a bit chilly, but Neighbor didn't have a choice. That carpet had to go!

This is the first of 3 or 4 coats of varnish. Once the house is aired out, then Neighbor can move her furniture back in. I am curious to see if Neighbor's asthma will improve. She seems to be wheezing every day. I can even hear her wheezing over the phone!

If you have asthma, a hard surface floor is a great option. I have wood floors in my home and people ask if it's hard to clean. Not really. There are vacuums that are made to clean hard surfaces. We have a canister vacuum that we can use on the wood floor and then flip a switch, and we can use it on area rugs. There are assorted electrostatic mops (dry mops that the dirt will stick to.) There are all sort of ways to clean wood floors.

What I like about wood floors the most is that you can SEE if they are dirty. You can see dust bunnies and find out what areas you missed cleaning. Most people don't take the time to vacuum the corners or edges of their carpet. But with wood floors, the dust is easily seen and cleaned up.

So, Hubby will keep working on the floors. Secretly, I think he likes doing it. There's something guys seem to like about being weekend warriors and doing projects around the house (or Neighbor's house.) And look a the results! They are beautiful.

I'll keep updated the progress of the wood floors for those of you who are following.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Carpet and asthma?

Goodbye carpet, hello wood floors!

Neighbor has asthma and has a cute little dog, but Little Dog seems to have a little bladder. Neighbor was shampooing her carpet (after the professional cleaning company had already tried getting the carpets cleaned.) She was determined to get them clean and she wondered if she had missed any areas where Little Dog may have gone to the bathroom. So we decided to look with a black light and see if any areas glowed. Well, there were more places that DIDN"T glow on the carpet. Little Dog has been very busy over the last 7 years.

After we recovered from the shock of seeing how much urine was on the carpet, Neighbor decided to pull it out. That's Hubby pulling up the tack strip and loading up the back of his truck with a load of carpet for the landfill. That should stop Little Dog from going to the bathroom on the floor. We noticed that in the areas where there the wood floors were bare, Little Dog didn't seem to use those areas as her personal bathroom.

Wood floors are actually the best choice for a home if you have asthma. (or any other hard surface material) Yes, they do require more cleaning but that's because you can actually SEE where they are dirty. Carpet is very good at hiding dog urine, dropped food, dust, bacteria, molds, etc. The thought just makes me shudder.

I am anxious to see if Neighbor's asthma will improve. She has struggled for years, and her asthma seems to be getting worse. I can hear her wheezing when I talk to her on the phone (and that's AFTER she has had a breathing treatment.) She even gets monthly Xolair injections, and even that doesn't seem to control her asthma.

So, once that carpet is gone, and Hubby can help refinish the wood floors, I would like to see if Neighbor's breathing gets better. And as for Little's a good thing we love her so much! Neighbor takes her out on walks throughout the day, but I think Neighbor may install a small dog door now so Little Dog can go outside to go to the bathroom. Little Dog doesn't like to go to the bathroom in the backyard, she likes going on walks so she can check her "pee-mail" and see what the other neighborhood dogs have left behind.

If you have asthma but never seem to feel like you can breathe very well, talk to your doctor. Medication is a big part of controlling symptoms, but so is your environment. Hard surfaces are best for the floor (and you won't have problems with Little Dogs using carpet as their bathroom)