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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This tween is amazing!

Susan Tatelli is one brave tween! She has life threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and soy. Her mom recorded Susan using her Epi Pen and uploaded it to Youtube. She also interviews several allergy and asthma doctors who talk about when and how to use an Epi Pen. This tween does an AMAZING job using hers!!

Susan wanted to show other kids that it's not so scary - that others can use their Epi Pen if they need to. She has had a LOT of experience using her Epi Pen because she was part of a peanut allergy trial. While she was in the trial, she had 6 anaphylaxis reactions. She used her Epi Pen herself 5 out of the 6 times. Way to go!

I learned something from watching the doctors she interviewed. Dr. Sakina Bajowala of the Kaneland Allergy and Asthma Center shows how to hold the Epi Pen in your palm with your finger and thumb stretched out. 

Then she wraps her thumb around the Epi Pen first. Then she wraps her fingers around her thumb. 
She said that stops you from putting your thumb on the top of the Epi Pen (where the safety cap is) I didn't know that - and I have been carrying around an Epi Pen for years!  
You can watch the video here. You can see how red Susan's face is before she uses her Epi Pen. Scary stuff! What a brave tween to share her story with others to make it a little less scary.

She is going to do great things in this world!! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pacifier attached to a valved holding chamber and asthma inhaler?

I was at a conference and I saw a display from a company that makes a valved holding chamber that you can use with different age groups. (Basically, it's a tube that connects to your asthma inhaler. You spray the inhaler in to the tube, then you can inhale the asthma medicine out of the tube and it will go into your lungs.) 
You can use it:
  • as a valved holding chamber with an older child
  • add a mask for a younger child
  • add a mask and pacifier for an baby

Has anyone tried this yet? With the pacifier for a baby? It seems like companies are always coming up with something new!

I always used the nebulizer for my kids when they were little. I'm wondering if the valved holding chamber and pacifier would work just as well?

Any comments from anyone that has tried it?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Turning lemons into lemonade

(Shutterstock image)

Many of you who are regular blog readers know that my kids have been hospitalized 12 times for asthma (thanks to pneumonia and/or smoke from forest fires.)

Over the years, people have said, "Don't you wonder Why Me?"
 No, not really. It is what it is, the kids inherited allergies and asthma from Hubby and I. So there you have it. It's my job to deal with it. 

In fact, because of what we have been through, we have been able to help MANY families over the years. I am very familiar with asthma triggers, signs and symptoms of an asthma attack, asthma medications, how the environment affects asthma, etc.
I am also familiar with hospital monitors and oxygen levels. This came in handy this weekend when we received a phone call that a family member had fallen. We took Family Member to the Emergency Department to get her checked out. While there, we noticed Family Member's oxygen level was dropping down to 76 (you should be close to 100.) If my kids had never been hospitalized, I wouldn't have known to watch the oxygen level on the monitor!
We called for the nurse and asked her to start some oxygen on Family Member. The doctor came back later to tell us the x-ray test results, and I then told him that Family Member's oxygen level was dropping to the 70's and 80's. He turned the oxygen off to see how she would do at room air and told me to watch her oxygen level. (From our experience, it's common for the nurse or doctor to turn the oxygen off and see if the  patient does well on room air. If so, they can go home.)  
So, my focus then was to watch her oxygen level. Every time she would nod off to sleep, her oxygen level would drop. Suddenly, the nurse came in with a CNA and they were ready to discharge Family Member. I said, "Wait a minute! The Doctor told me to watch her oxygen level. She is still dropping down into the 80's." 
The Nurse was NOT happy. She said, "What do you want us to do? Admit her?!" I said, "I don't know. All I know is that it's unsafe for her to leave here with low oxygen levels. Can we get an oxygen tank for her to take home?"  She looked at me and laughed and said, "At 11:00 on a Friday night?!"
She left the room to get the doctor. I kept watching the monitor and the oxygen level kept dropping. Shortly after that, I heard the nurse coming down the hall with the doctor. I could hear her explaining the situation. The Doctor looked at me as he came into the room. I said, "Here's the thing - I have 3 kids with asthma. They have been hospitalized 12 times, so I am very familiar with oxygen levels. Every time Family Member drops off to sleep, her oxygen level drops into the 80's." Just then, as if on cue, Family Member fell asleep, and her oxygen level started to drop.
The doctor saw the monitor and the oxygen level dropping and said, "Let's admit her." 
Phew! I was so worried. One time when Son #2 was discharged from a hospitalization for his asthma, the respiratory therapist said, "Now, I want you to check on him throughout the night. Don't just let him sleep because he has finally stopped coughing and can rest. With breathing problems, your oxygen level drops and drops and drops while you sleep, until some people just stop breathing and die. " 
I have NEVER forgotten that. 
So, I was really relieved when they admitted Family Member. I knew she would be hooked up to the machine that would monitor her breathing all night long. In fact, her oxygen level DID NOT improve the next day, so she was discharged from the hospital with orders to have an oxygen tank at home.

Once she came home, the company that provided oxygen met us at the house and brought the oxygen tank and tubing. Since we had used oxygen over the years with our kids, we felt comfortable in setting up the tank and hooking up the tubing. 
And all of this experience came from having 3 kids with asthma, and 12 hospitalizations. See? We took lemons and made lemonade!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My asthma lungs do not like surgery....

Last week was The Dreaded Surgery. I had been hoping to avoid surgery, but The Knee was being a LITTLE cranky and wanted some attention.

This getting older stuff really stinks.

So, despite trying physical therapy/elevating my knee/keeping ice on it, The Knee decided it had had enough. So, surgery was the next option.

I would rather do just about anything rather than have surgery. (I mean anything - defrost my freezer, scrub the toilets, wash out my disgusting garbage cans.....) I know from past experience that my lungs do NOT like surgery. I also know that I need to stay on oxygen for a while after surgery (which I carefully explained to the nursing staff.) It seems like they are always in a hurry to get you off oxygen, and to send you home after surgery. "Look at the great progress you are making!"

So, despite my best efforts, The Lungs were not happy after surgery. The oxygen monitor kept going off, and The Nurse was saying, "Take a breathe. C'mon Andrea. Breathe really deep for me." Argh!. 

Did I not carefully explain that I needed to STAY on oxygen for a while after the surgery?! I was too weak to say, "Why don't you just put the oxygen back on????" I had to really concentrate on breathing for The Nurse. I flopped my head over to one side to look at Hubby and hoped he could read my blank expression while I held my dripping purple Popsicle.  We have been married long enough, that he should have known I was trying to communicate to him with my mind and say, "Honey, will you please tell the nurse to put my oxygen mask back on?" 

But Hubby failed Mind Reading 101. So there I laid with my dripping purple Popsicle. Hoping someone would put my oxygen back on. It seemed like Body had forgotten how to breathe on it's own. Oh yeah! I'm supposed to breathe in and out! 

Finally, The Nurse decided that I could stay there a while longer (why?) or I could go home.

So, home we went. I had to focus on breathing in and out for the next few hours. Who knew it could be that hard? It used to seem so natural. I knew that I needed to breathe deep to open up my lungs, since some people with asthma can develop breathing problems after surgery.

I used my rescue inhaler to keep my lungs open. And I made sure I took my maintenance medicine inhaler too. I also slept upright, since that felt easier on my lungs.

Next time, I am going to do what my kid's kindergarten teacher used to do for my kids. I am going to pin a note on my hospital gown that says, "Please keep the oxygen on Andrea for several hours after surgery - she has moderate asthma." I may even add some sparkly stars to the note.

Think it will work?