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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kids in the hospital

(shutterstock image)

It's funny the things that kids can remember. 

When my kids were little, they were hospitalized 12 times for asthma.

Even though daughter Kitty is in high school now, she told me she can still remember the last time she was hospitalized at age 7. She said she was SO MAD that she had to be in the hospital AGAIN!

Kitty and Son #2 both had pneumonia (as is our usual winter activity...) and were both VERY sick. We had already:

And they were still getting worse. Son #2 was the first to end up in the hospital. He was admitted one night around 3am (they always get worse during the night.....)

Neighbor was at home while we were getting Son #2 admitted. and she was watching Kitty. When I returned from the hospital at 4am, i gave Kitty another breathing treatment. As soon as the doctor's office opened, I was on the phone to get them to look at Kitty.

Pediatrician listened to her lungs, reviewed her medications, and said, "Well, if she gets worse, you can bring her back tomorrow." I replied, "She won't be here tomorrow, she'll be admitted tonight."

I surprised myself when I said that. I don't know how I knew....I just knew.

I watched her all day and watched for the signs of an asthma emergency  

I knew she was getting worse. The final straw was when I was using the oxygen monitor that night.

It had been steadily dropping and had reached 91 (you should be close to 100.) I knew from past experience that our hospital will admit my kids if they have all the signs of an asthma emergency and their oxygen level drop to 90 or 91.

I called Hubby at the Pediatric Unit and said, "I'm bringing Kitty down to get admitted. Meet me in the ER." By this time, I had learned "the ropes" of having a kid in the hospital for asthma.
As soon as we entered the ER, they took us right back to a room and could see how sick she was. I told the ER Doc that her brother was admitted the night before and I felt she needed to be admitted too - it was time for the professionals to take over. She said, "Yes, good idea."  

I asked ER Doc to call up to Pediatrics and move Son #2 to a double room so he and Kitty could share a room. (See? I told you I had learned the ropes....)
This is the part where Kitty gets mad because she has to be admitted to the hospital.....again. But, she got to spend time with her brother and they were able to battle pneumonia together. Until he was discharged a day later, and she was stuck there for her 7th birthday. (The birthday story can be another post on another day.)
It's always funny to hear what kids remember. She was mad that she was admitted to the hospital again, but doesn't remember the story leading up to it. 
Well, you know!  

My Life as an Asthma Mom! Sometimes I wonder how I have survived all the stress over the years....


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Can my child carry an inhaler at school?

(Shutterstock image)

The short answer is YES! Your child can carry an inhaler at school. 

Some parents say, "What about the drug-free zone at schools? I thought they can't have ANY medicine at school." Nope. 

"All 50 states have laws in place that allow students with asthma to carry and self administer asthma quick relief inhalers and other lifesaving medicine. The laws vary by state and each school district may have its own policy and paperwork requirements. Contact your school nurse or school officials and ask about the self-carry/self-administration policy in your school district."

We  have a state law that allows ANY student to carry and use their inhaler IF they have a form filled out at the beginning of the school year. Our form is a combination form. The front side is an Asthma Action Plan and the back side is the permission form that allows the kiddos to carry their inhaler.

For those of you that have asthma, you know the panic that can set in if you don't have your inhaler handy. I don't want my daughter's inhaler locked up in the front office while she is out on the soccer field. When she has an asthma attack, she needs her inhaler RIGHT THEN.

She can't wait while someone runs to the office, locates the secretary to unlock the nurse's office, finds the inhaler, then takes it back out to the field. Crazy!

Our state has an AWFUL student/nurse ratio. Our nurses have between 5-9 schools that they supervise. Yep, not kidding. School Nurse is at the high school Mondays from 8:30 -11:30. I sarcastically tell daughter Kitty that if she is going to have an asthma attack, make sure she has it during that 3 hour block of time. She rolls her eyes and says, "Yeah, right mom. I'll make sure that happens."

My kids have always been on their own if they have an asthma attack at school. They carry their own inhalers and they are not afraid to use them!

Check with your school and see what the school asthma inhaler (and EpiPen) policy is.

Seconds count when you have an asthma attack and kids need to have their inhaler in their backpack....just in case.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

9-11 survivors develop asthma

We attended a local 9-11 anniversary memorial, and I happened to hear a REALLY FABULOUS bagpiper perform. I can't seem to listen to Amazing Grace on bagpipes without shedding a few tears - must be allergies, right?!

It was the 15th anniversary and most of the news programs talked about stories of those who had passed away. Stories about dads who had kissed their kids goodbye - not knowing that the kids would never see their dad again. There were stories about others who had died - moms, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and friends. All who died too young.

And then there were stories about first responders that helped that day and were later diagnosed with asthma. Hubby looked at me after watching the news story and said, "You should blog about that." Great minds think alike.

It doesn't surprise me that people that helped in New York City developed asthma. There was such a think layer of dust. How could it NOT damage someone's lungs?

A clip from the story says:

"It is thought that exposure to this dust through the lungs and skin has contributed to the asthma, gastrointestinal problems, and possibly the increased cancer risk experienced by rescue workers, especially those who were on the site immediately after the attack, when the cloud of debris dust was its thickest."

Another story from ABC News, "9/11 First Responders Battle Toxic Exposures 15 Years Later", says:

“They have chronic … asthma, chronic sinusitis, sometimes quite severe, sometimes interstitial lung disease [where the tissue can be scarred],” she said. “[Post-traumatic stress disorder] itself can be chronic disorder.”

There only bright side of this (if you want to call it that....) is that their care if completely covered under the World Trade Center Health Program.  PBS NewsHour has an interesting video if you have time to watch it (it's 15 minutes.) 

It's so sad that they didn't have the proper protection and equipment for working in the dust of the twin towers. And now they have life long problems. I think they did the best they could with what they had. It was an overwhelming disaster :(

For the rest of us "average Joes", did you know that there are things in our every day environment that can affect our asthma? CDC has a list Common Asthma Triggers 

Check to see what you can do to protect your lungs.

I don't think we can ever thank the First Responders enough for what they have gone through.

I am so proud to be an American! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Find where the urgent care centers are BEFORE you travel!

We have learned a LOT traveling with 3 kids with asthma over the years. I have learned to ALWAYS checked our destination for Urgent Care centers BEFORE we leave on vacation. Just in case.

Need to know what’s available by Disneyland? I can tell you! How about the Grand Canyon? Washington DC? Grandma’s house? I can tell you that too!
I’m one of those believer’s in Murphy’s Law (If anything can go wrong, it will.)

I’ve decided to outsmart Murphy over the years. It seems like if I am prepared for something, it WON’T happen. If I’m NOT prepared, something WILL happen.
So, I always look BEFORE we travel to find the closest hospital or urgent care. If there is an accident or illness while we are traveling, the last thing I want to do is try to try to find medical help while we are in a strange place and in a panic. (We learned that lesson the hard way while we were in Hawaii on vacation…..but that story is for another time.)

Over the holiday weekend, we went to see family. Daughter Kitty had a cold, but can usually use her rescue inhaler (Albuterol ) and be okay.  I asked Kitty if she wanted to pack the nebulizer for our trip. When the kids were little we ALWAYS packed the nebulizer – even if no one was sick. My kids have difficult to control asthma (as evidenced by 12 hospitalizations). So, we always felt safer knowing our trusty nebulizer was with us – just in case.

We decided not to bring it this time. Big mistake. Kitty used the nebulizer at home before we left, but still wasn’t feeling well by the time we got to family's house 5 hours later. She used her inhaler, but was still struggling to breathe. 

I told her the Urgent Care was only a couple of miles away, and we could head there for a treatment with a nebulizer. She didn’t want to go. After watching her for a while, I could tell she was getting worse. 
So, even though she complained (gotta love teenagers!), we dragged her to the Urgent Care. And I am sooooo glad we went! Not only were her lungs still really tight, but she also had an ear infection.

I told Urgent Care Doc that we were traveling and had not brought our nebulizer. They tracked down a home health care company that could deliver a nebulizer (at midnight on a Sunday night no less!) We debated whether to rent it or just buy it. But since our nebulizer is 16 years old, we decided it would be safer to have a new one. Who knows how much longer ours will last?

And there it is! A tiny new nebulizer (our old one is twice that size.....)

Kitty felt so much better after using the nebulizer. When she is sick, the nebulizer seems to work better than if she uses her rescue inhaler.

I am so glad I knew where the Urgent Care was located, so we could calmly drive there. I also knew they would take care of her and our insurance would also cover that visit. 

If you are traveling, PLEASE make sure you find the closest Urgent Care or hospital before you leave. We also carry an Out-Of-State insurance card  since our insurance will cover us in an emergency when we travel to other states.

If you are prepared, you may not need to use it. We have been going to family's house for 21 years, and this is the first time we have needed to use an Urgent Care  in their city for one of the kids. 

Include Urgent Care centers when planning for vacation.....just in case.