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Friday, July 25, 2014

Ugh.....fires fires everywhere!!

(Shutterstock image)

The thing I hate most about summer are fires. In my area, we are in the fourth year of a drought, so everything is very, VERY dry. Scary dry. Like if someone was driving down the highway and flipped their cigarette out the would start a fire. 

Yesterday, we spent the day on the lake, and as we were driving back home, we saw 3 different fires (in a half hour drive home.) Yikes!!

I am a little paranoid about forest fires and the smoke they cause. About 10 years ago, we had a big forest fire and smoke from the fire filled the valley. It was during the 4th of July holiday, so everyone was lighting fireworks too (which added more smoke to the neighborhood.) Son #2 was young at the time, and like most boys, he wanted to be outside and watch the neighborhood fireworks. He was struggling to breathe, so we brought him in and gave him a breathing treatment on the nebulizer. 

 It usually works. But this time, it didn't seem to help. He just "didn't look right." I was really worried, so I took him to the emergency room. He got worse and worse (even with all the medical equipment hooked up to him in the emergency room) and he almost died. From an asthma attack. Who knew that smoke could kill your child? It was an experience I will never forget. And we definitely learned from what we did wrong!

If you have asthma, and there is a forest fire nearby, be careful!! If the fire department or police come around the neighborhood to tell you to evacuate, get out-FAST!! 

I can buy a new house, a new car and new furniture. But I can't buy a new son. The smoke from the fire filled the valley so quickly, we didn't realize what was going on. Now we know better. We have evacuated one other time because of another fire. 

I hope they get the fires out here. The air doesn't look too bad, but I already used my inhaler this morning. If the air gets worse - I am outta here!!


  1. We don't get many fires here in houston tx. We're close to the ocean and it's very humid here. Summer is a sauna. Tx weather is very variable because it's so big and the climate varies from the regions. I've seen the disparity in asthma diagnosis in poorer regions. My uncle is a principle at a poor elementary school and when I came to help out one day, I saw lots of kids on menu lizards at the nurse's office I'm good for the most part. The whooping cough made it really hard to breath and I had to be ventilated for three days. The new strains for the flu shot just came out. Get it early before flu season kicks in. Are you getting the trivalent or quadrivalent shot?

    1. You're lucky you don't get the fires. I dread summer because I know what's coming - more fires!

      I'm glad you are better from the whooping cough - scary stuff that you had to be on a ventilator.

      I'll check on the flu shot, we get it at our local health department, and I don't think they have the new shipment.

      They usually get the flu mist first, and I have to wait for the serum to come in. Many people don't realize that you can't have the mist if you have asthma.

      I'll call them and see when they are expecting the shipment.

      Glad you are doing better!

      How is school going?

  2. Yeah but Texas is mold heaven because it's a sauna. I don't think it's humid up there is it? It's interesting the science behind the flu mist, it works by introducing an infection in the nose. It's actually more effective for healthy people because more T cells are formed with a better memory. Studies have shown that people have antibodies to the shot years after getting it. But it's still important to get it annually because the strains change, plus it can also serve as a booster shot if the include the same strain. The pneumonia shot is different because it looses it's effectiveness the more you use it, so once is usually all that's recommended then a booster at age 65. My insurance covers vaccines fully so I just get it at Walgreens. I don't get why not all insurances fully cover vaccines. Getting the vaccine is much cheaper than getting the actual illness and it not only protects you but the general public as well. I'm taking organic chemistry in summer school. Yucky!! But it's also very interesting because it teaches about enantiomers. Xopenex is the left enantiomers of albuterol. It's basically the half that actually works, half of the molecules in albuterol are just junk so xopenex has a faster mechanism of action which would explain why your severe asthma son would respond to xopenex better. I'm also doing my algae research. In case you forgot, algae (chlamydamonas) models the Silla or hair like cells in your lungs(similar to intestinal villi). So far I've concluded that the cells loose their flagella(whip like projection) at 4.5% alcohol. Now I need to figure out how to regenerate them. I found they can regenerate when they've been exposed to 3% concentrations or lower, but still it doesn't take much alcohol to really harm your lungs. If you know an alcoholic, you can sometimes hear them have a hacking cough, which later puts them at risk for copd. It's not just smoking that can harm your lungs. I'm never going to drink when I turn 21, i don't wAnt to kill my Silla. Kalydeco is a wonder drug. I've been on it for a few weeks and I can already see a huge difference. I don't wake up and feel a gob of mucus in my chest everyday. My doctor says I can expect to see more improvement but to stay on all my therapies until he says it's safe.

    1. Yes, I was thinking that you were stuck in high humidity down in Texas. We're a desert here, it's VERY dry.

      Good luck with O-chem, I hear that class is a beast.

      Good to know the science behind Xopenex. I had one pediatrician say "there's no way that can work better-its' the same as Albuterol only a purer version." I said, "I'm telling you - my son can feel the difference. And I can see a difference in how he reacts too. Now I know the science behind it!

      Isn't it cool that you are learning the science behind your condition too? Smart thinking to protect your silla by not drinking.

      And such good news that the Kalydeco is working!! It's been a long road for you to find out what was wrong,and then get on a good medication.

      SO glad you are making progress :)

      Good luck in school this semester!!

    2. I believe there is generic xopenex for the nebula zee at least, or that may just be European. I use duoneb in the nebulizer as a Saba. Darn autocorrect doesn't know nebulizer

    3. Haha, have to LOVE auto correct!! I haven't heard of a generic for Xopenex, I should ask the pharmacist about that.

      It's pretty sad when the pharmacist knows me and the name of my whole family, and which medication I'm coming to pick up....

      I offered to just sign over my paycheck to the pharmacy to make things easier..

  3. Hello Andrea,
    There was a "massive" (4-alarm) fire in my neighborhood just a few days ago and my child is still having reactions to the smoke and air. The fire was of a construction site for a big apartment bldg (196 unit) and because of all the construction wood framing and material on site there was debris and ash littering for blocks. All the steps out front and back were full of chunks of ash.
    Anyhow this has really affected my daughter's asthma. She is now on more steroids due to the inflammation. I have been advised to keep windows closed with the purifiers on for the next several weeks. Also that my daughter should avoid our neighborhood (we live by the city center lake and park).

    Because of this, I'd like to make our apartment home a safe place for her to be and breathe. I plan to wipe down walls, windows and surfaces with a vinegar solution and wash or dryer clean curtains and etc. May you give me any tips? It sucks because this is summer and I was looking forward to opening the windows and painting but now my priorities is her health. What did you do when you returned after the fires to make your indoor health better for everyone?

    1. In addition to a special filter on our furnace, we have standing air cleaners in each room. Luckily, most of the smoke smell was gone when we returned.

      This may not apply in all aspects of your situation, but they have some reliable information in the article

      Good luck!