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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Evacuation time!!!!

Follow up from Monday's post. I was ABSOLUTELY NOT going to send my daughter to girl's camp. There is a 40,000 acre fire in the area around the campsite, and I wasn't worried about the fire getting close to the camp-it's the smoke that gets you when you have asthma.

My friend called from the campsite and said that it was clear of smoke, and that we should consider sending daughter Kitty up to the camp. She also assured us that Kitty could call every night and let us know that she was okay. We decided to drive up to the campsite-2 hours away. We drove through a lot of smoke, but when we reached the camp, it was clear.

I met with all of the leaders, and made sure they would keep a close eye on Kitty. Then I met with the camp nurse, who works in the ICU and explained all the medications Kitty was on. She assured us that Kitty would be fine, and that if she needed to leave, they would quickly send her out with one of the leaders.

I was still very nervous as we drove away, and couldn't eat dinner last night. We watched all three news channels, plus checked the hotline concerning the fire and the smoke proximity to the camp. We tried to call numerous people at the camp to make sure she was okay, but there was limited cell coverage.

I woke up to a phone call at 6:30 this morning that the girls were being evacuated!!!!

That actually saved me a trip, because I was feeling so uneasy, I decided to drive down and pick her up.

Imagine my relief when she got off the bus! I ran up to her and gave her a big hug to which she responded, "Mooooom!! Jeez!!" as she rolled her eyes.

Looks like everything is  back to normal. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fires ruin everything!

(Spenser Heaps, Provo Daily Herald)

No sooner is Friday's fire out than another one is started. This one just happens to be near Girl's Camp where daughter, Kitty, is supposed to be going tomorrow morning. It's several miles away from the campsite itself, but we all know how smoke can travel. To say I am stressed out is an understatement.

I sent an email to our local meteorologist to ask about the fire and see if they could track the smoke with their Doppler radar. She said the smoke is traveling north now, but will shift the day the girls head to camp and will most likely drift into the camp. She also said canyons act very differently with wind flow, they have their own sort of "current". So the fire can be miles away, but the smoke can drift all over the mountains and fill the canyons. We have had BAD experiences with smoke from forest fires. There was a fire here about 10 years ago that almost cost Son #2 his life. So the smoke + asthma makes me a VERY scared.

This fire has burned about 40,000 acres and is only 10% contained. They have evacuated several small towns around the fire, and it has burned 25-30 homes so far. To read more about the story from the Provo Daily Herald, click here.

My question is, how do you evacuate Girl's Camp, with hundreds of girls? The buses drop the girls off on Tuesday and don't return until Saturday. What happens in the meantime? There is no way to evacuate all those girls out of the camp. Many of the leaders drive to the camp, but they still can't fit all of the girls in the leader's cars in an emergency evacuation.

Needless to say, unless they can come up with another place for the girls to camp that is FAR away from the fire, daughter Kitty won't be going to camp. Yes, she is packed. All the food and supplies are bought, but she won't be going. Is she disappointed? Yes. Are we? Yes.

Hubby and I are trying to head out of town for an anniversary trip. We haven't been anywhere alone for 5 years. The last time was  trip to Hawaii, during which Son #2  became VERY sick and his lung partially collapsed. He didn't end up in the hospital, but it was a close call.

We can't go anywhere, asthma ruins every trip we try to take. I don't know why we try anymore.....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fires, evacuations-what would you take?

I knew this day would be coming- fires! We have had a very pathetic winter and spring, which means everything is bone dry. There's a lot of brush on the mountains, and it burns like crazy. I can't get a good photo of the fire from my house, if I get a better one, I'll add that to the blog.

Even though they have been warning people on the news to NOT TARGET SHOOT, some people decided to shoot their guns anyway. And of course they started a fire. This isn't the first fire this month, there was one a few weeks ago-also caused by someone target shooting. That fire was quickly put out. Then the TV news stations aired reports urging people to not to go into the foothills and target shoot with their guns, but they obviously didn't listen.

I can see the plums of smoke from my house, but luckily I am far enough away that we don't have worry about being evacuated. But so far this morning, they have evacuated 8,000 people so far (in the first 24 hours). But the fire keeps shifting, so I'm sure more people will be evacuated.

They are interviewing people on the news and talking about people with asthma. They are warning them to stay inside and not go outside to watch the fire. The weatherman just said to stay inside, keep the windows closed, and use central air (or something with a filter system) Sorry for all of you that still use swamp coolers.....

For those that are evacuated, what are they taking? The newscaster just interview Noel Pikus-Pace, an Olympic "skeleton" medalist. She actually took her kid's stroller out of the car and put her Olympic flag in! She said she can buy a new stroller, but she could never replace the Olympic flag. 

Others interviewed had said they would take birth certificates, titles to their homes and cars, photos, etc.

What would you take? Asthma medication? Nebulizer? Oxygen saturation monitor? After all, we have a harder time keeping our kids breathing anyway! Then add a little smoke on top, and we need our asthma medication and equipment.

There are multiple fires all over the U.S., hopefully none near you. But if there is one close by, talk to your family members and make plans about what to take if you are evacuated. Many people think it will happen to "someone else" - but who is "someone else?" It has to be someone, it may be you one day. So prepare-just in case.....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Help affording asthma medicine

I spent $200 at the pharmacy last week-and that wasn't including Son #2's epi pen that they had to order in. Pharmacist wisely suggested ordering an epi pen, because it would have a longer shelf life. If I'm going to pay $50 for an epi-pen (and most likely not have to use it) I would rather have it last as long as I can.

But buying prescriptions for our family adds up. Hubby and I and all three kids have allergies, and the kids and I all have asthma. So things get a little expensive. Add to that a monthly fee for Xolair injections ($150 copay on the $1000 injection), and we really spend a lot on medicine!

Singulair is supposed to be going generic this year, but until it does, the co-pay seems to be going up and up. I used to pay $28 for Singulair, now I am paying about $45 a month (times three-for my three kids). I found a $20 off coupon on the Singulair website. To print your own coupon, click here.   The coupon says, "Limit 1 coupon per patient for the duration of the program." We used a coupon when my kids first started on Singulair. But it seems like we printed one off to use again the next month, and the pharmacy wouldn't accept it. (This was several years ago) I called the pharmacy today and they said every coupon program is a little different. The pharmacy tech said to use a coupon the first month, then print one off for the next month and see if your insurance accepts it.

Advair is also expensive, my co-pay for it is almost $60. To print off a $10 off coupon that can be used once a month , click here. 

Needymeds is another great resource, here is a link for other coupons. They are a website where you can "find help with the cost of medicine". Countless companies are listed on their website that can help people pay for prescriptions-and it can be any medicine, not just asthma medicines. To check out Needymeds, click here.  

Hopefully these website help you with your budget. I offered to just sign my paycheck over to the pharmacy, just to make things a little easier. Some days if FEELS like I spend my whole paycheck there. But, it could always be worse, right?!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is your city one of the 10 worst for asthma?

(Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America)

Is your city one of the 10 worst cities for asthma? What makes your city get on the list? The 100 biggest cities in America are evaluated in 12 different areas, some of those are:

  • No public smoking bans
  • High pollen counts
  • Frequent ozone days
  • Poor air quality
  • High use of asthma medication
  • Poverty levels
After displaying the Top 10 cites, the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America tells people not to move, but improve where they are living. If you live in one of the cities listed, can you push for smoking bans in parks and public places? Can you use public transportation? Can you meet with your doctor to make sure you are on the right medication?

My asthma doctor said, "there is no safe place to live with asthma." Everywhere you go, there will be allergens (trees, flowers, bushes, grass, animals, etc.) There will also be irritants (cigarette smoke, cleaning sprays, scented candles, bad air quality, etc)

There's no where to run and hide when you have allergies and asthma. But you can take steps to make your home a little safer.Here's a link to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "Asthma Trigger: Gain Control"

And to find out the Top 10 cites, click here. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hypoallergenic pets?

(Shutterstock image)

We're one of those unlucky families that has allergies and asthma. My husband and I and all 3 kids have allergies, and everyone except Hubby has asthma.

Needless to say, we don't have any pets. However, Neighbor Dog loves to come over and see Hubby. Hubby says it's because they have the same I.Q. level.....

Neighbor's kitties also love us. Probably because I give them a bowl of milk every morning. Well, you know, they're just sitting on my porch being cute. And meowing. I can't resist, I have to give them a little bowl of milk for breakfast!

But the problem is petting or holding Neighbor Dog or Neighbor's Kitties. They look at you with those big eyes, how can you resist petting them? Well, I usually can't resist, so I pet them. Then I head straight inside to wash my hands.

On occasion, I'll pet Neighbor's Kitties on the way out the door to work. If I don't want to wash my hands, I'll use my pop up canister of Handi Wipes. Sometimes that doesn't work and I'll end up having an asthma attack in the car as I'm driving to work. Stupid allergies.

So, can you get "hypoallergenic pets"? What can you do if you're allergic to cats and dogs? Take this simple 8 question test on the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology website. Scroll down to the bottom left corner of the page where you'll see "Pet Allergy Quiz."

There's some good information on there, let me know what you think. And pass the tissues. ACHOO!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Top 10 Innovations in Technology Awards (from Allergy and Asthma Today Magazine)

(Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics-AANMA)

I was reading an article in the latest Allergy and Asthma Today Magazine about new inventions that have changed the lives of people with asthma. Their group narrowed down their choices to the Top 10 Technologies or Innovations over the last 25 years. (Kind of sounds like a Top 10 list from David Letterman....only this list isn't funny, it's serious when you have asthma!

The winners were recognized in Washington DC at Capitol Hill during AANMA's 15th annual Allergy & Asthma Day.  

To find out who they chose, click here.
Our family uses 4 of the top 10 innovations. But by far, my favorite is Xolair. It's for patients whose asthma is hard to control-even though they are on a daily maintenance medication. Son #2 was on daily maintenance medications, allergy medication, was having allergy shots, and would still end up in the hospital when he got sick. In fact, he was hospitalized 8 times and almost "coded" (stopped breathing) twice. Nothing we did seemed to help.

When he would get sick, we would start doing breathing treatments, then add Prednisone (steroids.) When that didn't work, he would have an injection of Decadron (another strong steroid.) When that didn't work, he would end up in the hospital.

Xolair has completely changed our lives. Instead of panicking when he gets sick, I know that he will respond to breathing treatments and the occasional steroids. I used to start packing for the hospital when he got sick, because I knew he would end up getting admitted that day or the next.

Xolair stops the allergic reaction before it starts. It is an IgE "inhibitor". IgE is what is released during an allergic response in the body. Xolair blocks that from happening.

Your insurance company will have to approve Xolair since it's over $1000 per injection. Some insurance companies don't want to cover it because of how expensive it is. Son #2 gets an injection once a month, in each arm. But the $1000 injections are still less expensive than paying for a hospitalization or an emergency room visit, so our insurance company approved Xolair for our son.

There are many other amazing things on their Top 10 list that we take for granted. Treating asthma has come a long ways, things we use every day weren't always available to help us with asthma. Check out the other technologies on the list, chances are your family probably uses many of them too!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Swallowing live fish to cure asthma?!


I read an article about a mob of people in Hyderabad, India who are desperate to cure their asthma. A family there, the Gouds, offer their "cure" annually on a special day chosen by astrologers. The "cure" consists of swallowing live sardines that are smeared with a yellow herbal paste. They believe it will cure people of all of their breathing problems. The Gouds claim that a Hindu saint gave the family the secret formula 170 years ago.

Every year, they give away the herb smeared fish for free but they won't tell what's in the mix because the Hindu saint said it wouldn't be as strong if it was made commercially.

Apparently, 70,000 other people believed it too, because they rushed the stadium where the Goud's were holding the special ceremony. On a sad note, one man died of a heart attack. Several other people had to get medical treatment because they were having a hard time breathing.

For the others in the crowd, after they swallow the specially treated fish, they are told to not eat fried foods and to have a strict diet for the next 45 days. They can eat 25 different foods, including rice, lamb, spinach, dried mango, white sugar and clarified butter.

Maybe it helps these people to believe that there is a cure. I know that there is NO cure for asthma. You  can usually control your asthma, but not cure it.

I guess if the people of India want to believe that, they can. But I wish they would keep their other asthma medications near by. I know that modern medicine has kept my kids alive (literally-they have had 12 hospitalizations for their asthma.) And I have used my inhaler 3 times in the last 24 hours (VERY unusual for me) I can't figure out what is causing my asthma attacks-but I always have my inhaler close by! 

I would hate to rely on an herb coated fish to "cure" me. I'll rely on my controller medication and rescue inhaler to control my symptoms.

But to each his own-



Friday, June 8, 2012

Counters on inhalers


Son #2 needed a new inhaler, and I REALLY wanted one with a counter on it. It's very hard to know how many puffs are left in an inhaler-unless you use a marker and put hash marks on the canister holder every time you use it. And if an inhaler has 200 doses, that can be a lot of hash marks!

Ventolin has a counter on the inhaler, but for some strange reason, my insurance company won't cover it. I had to call them to find out which rescue inhaler they WILL cover. The only one is ProAir. So I was excited to learn in Allergy & Asthma Today magazine that ProAir also has an inhaler with a counter.The link listed above will take you to the "Top Ten Innovations in Technology Awards"on the website. It's a shorter story than the magazine article.)  The magazine article says that the ProAir inhaler came out in March of 2012, but when I got mine from the pharmacy, it didn't have a counter on it.

I asked the pharmacist why my ProAir didn't have a counter, and he said he hadn't heard about the ProAir having a counter now too. But his guess is that they are still shipping out the old basic design inhalers.

So if your insurance company isn't as picky as mine, maybe you can still get a Ventolin inhaler. They also make a smaller sized inhaler that only has 60 doses. Less doses means it's less expensive too. So if you are on a budget or have to pay cash for your inhaler, you can get the smaller size. (As long as you don't use it too much.)

If your insurance company will only cover ProAir for your rescue inhaler, ask your pharmacist if you can get one with a counter on it. Here's a link to the ProAir website.  

Happy shopping!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hot temperatures here = bad air quality

 (Utah Division of Air Quality)

I just received an alert on Facebook from my local health department. The alert states that today is a "Yellow Air Quality Day" here in our county. My county is a unique geographical area, I live in the bottom of a "bowl" or valley that is surrounded by mountains. That means the air gets trapped in the valley and builds up ozone levels.

This can make asthma and other lung conditions worse. It also affects people with heart conditions. High ozone levels can cause red eyes, nose and throat irritation, coughing and wheezing.

The Utah Division of Air Quality website helps you learn when to limit your outdoor activity. It also encourages people to use mass transit, or reduce traveling time in your car.

Click here for a link to the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) website. If the link doesn't work, the web address is  It has some easy-to-understand tutorials about air quality and how they can affect your body. In the summer, the site measures ozone levels. In the winter, it measures PM 2.5 levels (smaller particles that can irritate your lungs)

This is from the DAQ website and shows what you need to do on green, yellow and red dates:


Action / Alert Status
Health Protection Message
Good - None
Moderate - Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups - The following groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion:
  • People with lung disease, such as asthma.
  • Children and older adults
  • People who are active outdoors
Unhealthy - The following groups should avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion:
  • People with lung disease, such as asthma.
  • Children and older adults
  • People who are active outdoors
Everyone else should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
Very Unhealthy - The following groups should avoid all outdoor exertion:
  • People with lung disease, such as asthma.
  • Children and older adults
  • People who are active outdoors
Everyone else should limit outdoor exertion.

Reduce driving use mass transit.

Limit driving use mass transit or carpool.

Get more information by visiting our Choose Clean Air site.

Sign up for free e-mail air quality alerts.

Check your area for air quality, and if you have high ozone levels, limit your activities.

And keep breathing!

Friday, June 1, 2012

No, no, no! Smoke from a nearby fire!

This is what I saw on my way home from work last night. Smoke in the valley makes me VERY nervous!  The area I live in is surrounded by mountains, and the valley has a lot of farms. So fires are always a concern here.

This past winter was pathetic, we didn't get much snow at all.  The license plates covers for our state say, "Greatest Snow on Earth." But not this year! We didn't get much snow in the valleys, and now I am worried about a drought.

This fire was started in a remote area by two men who were shooting guns. It's burned about 200 acres so far, but it doesn't look too bad this morning. I was worried that this was just the start, and that it was going to spread quickly. I could smell the smoke last night, so we made sure all of the windows were closed and that no family members were outside. We've had fires here that were MUCH worse. This valley where half a million people live was thick with smoke. And Son #2 almost "crashed" or stopped breathing because of it. To read about what happened, click here.    

I'm looking out my office window, I can't see any smoke from here. And I know it's nothing like the other fires that are burning in Michigan, Colorado and New Mexico.

But I'm afraid of what may be coming this summer, I think this is the first of many fires. Please be careful if you are outdoors. If you are in an area and they ask you to evacuate-DO IT! Fires can switch direction and can be deadly. With asthma, you have to be extra careful when it comes to breathing.

I'm not really picky, I just want to keep myself and my kids alive and breathing..