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Monday, October 31, 2016

ALERT! Do not use dusty costumes today!!

Quick post before I run off to the Halloween party for work.

This morning, I grabbed a shirt from the shelf in my closet - a cute little thing that spelled "Happy Halloween" in orange and white sequins. That was all the dressing up I was going to do today....

However, I haven't worn the shirt since last year. So, I threw it in the dryer on the "steam refresh" cycle, pulled on a skirt and thought I would be okay. 


As soon as I arrived at my office, I started sneezing.....then coughing....then realized not only did I need to quickly use my inhaler, but I would have to drive back home and change my clothes!

So, here I am back at the office. 

If you (or your kids) have asthma and allergies and are triggered by dust, PLEASE clean your costume carefully before you wear it tonight.

You just might have time to get it washed and dried before it's time to trick or treat. 

 I can hardly type this blog entry because my hands are shaking from using my inhaler....

If you can prevent an asthma attack, it will be worth it!
Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Another option for epinephrine

Ah, the constant battle of trying to find the right medication - and one I can afford!

Like many people with asthma, I also have allergies - including food allergies. So, I carry an epinephrine auto injector. 

And since I had an accidental exposure to seafood last month, my body made new antibodies and I'm afraid my next exposure to seafood will mean a very severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis.)

To be safe, I take epinephrine EVERYWHERE I go. In fact, my epinephrine has been to Disneyland, Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Washington DC and Paris. (The Washington DC security checks at the Senate and House buildings are REALLY strict - so after they put my purse through the x-ray machine, the officer was really suspicious! I had to pull out my epinephrine and explain what it was and why I had to carry it.) 

Anyway, I'm sure most of you have heard about the controversy about Mylan raising the price on their Epi Pens. Since I needed a new epinephrine pen, I did some research to see what else was available. 

I ended up getting one from Adrenaclick. You can read more about it from an earlier blog post  I was able to get the generic version for a $10 copay.

Auvi Q  will be coming back on the market in 2017.  I have NO idea what it will cost since everyone has different insurance and co-pays.

Auvi-Q is different because it's small (you can see the grey "practice trainer" above.) It's about the size of a credit card - but thicker. About as thick as a cell phone. Some people may like it better to carry in their pocket. 

The other really cool about it is that it "talks" to you and walks you through the steps to use it. Northern Colorado Allergy and Asthma Clinic has a very clever video that shows how it works 

So, talk to your doctor and see which epinephrine injector would be the best for YOU to use. 

And remember to take it everywhere you go.....just in case!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Teal Pumpkin Project

And.....the fun begins! Trying to find candy without tree nuts for Halloween. Son #2 has a tree nut allergy and had an accidental exposure last month. Not good.

There are many different types of chocolate candy that don't have tree nuts (Milky Way, Milk Duds, Hershey's chocolate bars, Whoppers, etc.) But many times, the snack size candy bars are in the same bag with candy bars that DO have nuts. Or they're made in the same factory (which means they can be cross contaminated.)

What are some other candy options? The Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board has a Peanut and Tree Nut Free Candy List

Since son #2 is in college, he is WAY too old to Trick or Treat for Halloween, but I want to have some candy available when he comes home for Sunday dinners. I have to bribe him with something, right?! 

What about the kids who have multiple food allergies and so they can't trick or treat? Where's the fun in that?! They need to enjoy Halloween too!

Enter Food Allergy and Research Center (FARE.) 3 years ago, they came up with a great idea to let kids know if your house is food safe for Halloween.

It's pretty easy. You just:
  1. Buy a non food treat (bracelets, necklaces, stickers, glow sticks, etc). I get stuff at my local party supply store
  2. Put a teal pumpkin out front  
  3. Put up a free poster that explains why you have a teal pumpkin
  4. You can make a donation to The Teal Pumpkin Project
You can download free signs for your house. You can have non-food treats, or candy and non food treats. 

They also have a few more signs.

Need them in Spanish or French? They have those too!  

This is an easy way to let kids with food allergies trick or treat without worrying about getting sick or having an allergic reaction. 

Has anyone tried this in their neighborhood yet? If so, how did it go?

Let's make Halloween fun for all of the kids!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Birthday in the hospital

Since all 3 of my kids inherited my asthma (sorry guys!) we have had LOTS of late nights/doctor visits/ER visits and hospitalizations.

One of my last posts was about Kids in the Hospital

I promised I would share the story about Kitty being in the hospital on her here goes.

 Son #2 and Kitty both had pneumonia (again).  I mean - what else is there to do in winter?! Son #2 was admitted to the hospital the day before Kitty was and she was SO MAD that she had to be in the hospital again. 

Sorry kid. 

But there she was, the day before her 7th birthday. After were settled in her room and had her oxygen on, IV hooked up, and had met all of the nurses, I  realized I would have to cancel Kitty's birthday party for the next day.

  The woman in the photo above is the hospital's "Child Life Specialist" (CLS) . She helps the kids play games, gives them donated blankets and stuffed animals and generally tries to make the hospital a less scary place for kids.

CLS came to check on us and see what we needed. After a sleepless night, I was in a daze and mumbled something about Kitty's birthday was the next day and I would have to cancel her birthday party.

She said, "Don't do that! Just have the kids come here!" Since I was a little sleep deprived, I wasn't processing what CLS was saying and stared at her blankly.

CLS said that they have had other birthday parties at the hospital, and we could quickly plan one for Kitty. She asked what theme Kitty wanted? That year it was puppies. CLS said she would decorate the spare conference room, ask the hospital cafeteria to bake a puppy themed birthday cake, and arrange for security to escort the group of kids to the secure pediatrics floor of the hospital. 

Hubby had just arrived at the hospital to switch places so I could go home to shower and change and see our other kids. I was re-energized with CLS's plans, so I stopped by the party supply store for puppy themed party supplies.

I called the parents and said there's been a change for Kitty's party, can you come to the hospital tomorrow? We'll have the party there! 

The last thing to figure out was how to get Kitty to the conference room with all of her friends.

Since this was her 6th hospitalization, we had to be sneaky. The next morning I told Kitty that she needed another chest x-ray, but that we would just walk down (and pull her oxygen tank behind us) instead of taking the wheelchair. So off we went down the hall. Only I turned right instead of left and went down a different hallway. I stopped in front of a door not far from her hospital room and said, "Okay, let's go in!"  She looked at me and rolled her eyes and said, "Mom - this isn't x-ray!" (Seriously? What 7 year old kid knows what the x-ray department looks like at the hospital??)  

I threw open the door to the conference room to a loud "Surprise!!!" from all of her friends and their parents. CLS had done a GREAT job! There were balloons, posters, and lots of puppy themed toys and games. 

 In the photo above, you can see the kids wearing their black puppy ears and white puppy paw print hats while they sit around a table. CLS found cute silver dog bowls, filled them with beads, and helped the kids make beaded "dog collars".   

I don't remember the other games, or even what the cake looked like. 

But I do remember being filled with love. Love for Kitty. Love for Kitty's friends and their families. And love for CLS who took the time to coordinate a hospital birthday party for one VERY sick little 7 year old. 

She helped us make the best of a bad situation.

And for that, I am truly grateful. Despite what I see on the news each night, there is still good in the world.     

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fun with vocal chord dysfunction!

( Shutterstock image)

Fun with what? 

Did you know VCD is commonly mistaken for asthma? And just to confuse you a little more, there are people that can have asthma and VCD.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) list the following symptoms of VCD:

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms of VCD can include:
•    Difficulty breathing
•    Coughing
•    Wheezing
•    Throat tightness
•    Hoarse voice
•    Voice changes

Several months ago, Asthma Doc suspected VCD in daughter Kitty. (She also has asthma.) Sometimes, her throat feels "tight" (instead of her lungs feeling "tight".) Asthma Doc said the best treatment is speech therapy, but he couldn't find a speech therapist locally who specializes in VCD. I found one through our local hospital system and set an appointment.

This week was her first appointment. Speech Therapist said my daughter fits the typical profile: young females between 14-21 who are very athletic. Hmm.

He is going to spend several sessions with her to help her control her breathing so she can be more active. She will be learning special speech therapy techniques and deep breathing.

She could already feel a difference on the first visit. He made her run the stairs at the hospital, then practice the technique he taught her - and it worked! 

Yes, this is only the first visit, but I see hope on the horizon!

Mayo Clinic says your doctor may suspect VCD if:

  • It's harder to breathe in than breathe out when symptoms flare up
  • Asthma medications don't seem to ease your symptoms
  • Results of breathing (pulmonary function) tests or other tests for asthma are normal
 If you wonder if you could have VCD instead of asthma (or in addition to asthma), talk to your doc.

There's something new to learn every day!