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Friday, June 15, 2018

"Stock albutero"l inhalers in schools

(Infographic courtesy of Allergy & Asthma Network) 

What is "stock albuterol?" 

Well, that means schools can "stock" (or store) an albuterol inhaler in school - in case someone has an emergency.

 Shouldn't everyone have their own inhaler? Well, in a perfect world, yes. Inhalers are small and can be easily lost, left at home, or even expire before they are empty.

I have heard many stories of families that can't afford an inhaler, so 3 or 4 kids are sharing one inhaler at school. Or sometimes mom takes the inhaler to work, and if the school nurse calls her, she will take the inhaler to the school for her child to use. They family shares 1 inhaler between mom or dad's office and the school.

I don't know about any of you, but I had moments of panic when I couldn't find my inhaler - even though I KNEW it was in my purse.


This is why there are stock inhalers in schools.


11 states allow schools to stock albuterol inhalers. Is your state one of the lucky states? You can check the graphic up above. The dark blue states are schools that have stock albuterol laws. Yellow states have guidelines.

Looks like my state needs some work!

What about your state? Ask your school nurse, superintendent or your local legislator why your school doesn't allow stock albuterol inhaler for emergencies. 

You can also contact Allergy & Asthma Network. They are based in Virginia and are:

"Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to end the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions through outreach, education, advocacy and research."
Allergy & Asthma Network sponsor a Day on Capitol Hill in Washington DC each May. They work tirelessly on laws to protect families and help create new laws for families with allergies and asthma.

I was lucky enough to go to DC and talk to my legislators. It's not that scary, you just share your story of living with allergies and asthma. Many of us have some pretty scary and powerful stories of dealing with allergies or asthma. You can talk to your local or state legislators too.

Allergy & Asthma Network can explain how to talk to your local legislators, PTA, etc and educate them about important issues with allergies and asthma. 


Lend your voice! You can help make a difference!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Don't forget asthma inhalers when school is out!


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School is out for summer in most states, and that means emptying out the backpack your kids have been carrying around all year (how long has THAT been in there?)
 
As you empty out their backpacks, make sure you check for their asthma inhaler.
 
Some kids will have an inhaler at home and another one at school. Sometimes you can forget about the inhaler at school. 
 
Older kids usually carry their inhalers in their backpacks, but the younger kids might have theirs stored in the teacher's desk.
 
By the way, did you know it's legal in every state in American for kids to carry their inhaler with them at school? American Lung Association says:
 
"Although all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed a law allowing students to carry and use inhalers at school, some kids are still being denied access to these lifesaving medications during the school day."
 
When my kids were little, I would fill out a permission form at the beginning of every school year and Asthma Specialist would sign it. That would allow them to legally carry their inhaler with them at all times (even though schools are a drug free zone.)
 
Since our family has had LOTS of experience with asthma (it's been 18 years since the 3 kids and I were diagnosed - and we had had 12 hospitalizations for asthma). So, we are very used to inhalers and nebulizers. My kids were responsible enough to carry their inhaler when they were very young. 
 
But other families may find that young kids goof off with inhalers (spray it in their air, let their friends play with it, etc.) So they may have the teacher keep it in his or her desk. 
 
So, do the "end of the year dump"of the backpack and look for your kid's inhaler. If you can't find it, you may have to double check with their teacher or school nurse.
 
Chances are you are going to need that over the summer!   
 
 








Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Asthma Mom is sick, now what?

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Well, as though this year wasn't bad enough, I am sick with bronchitis (again) - 4th time since November.

What's going on? Well, I've been traveling - and airplanes and airports are some of the germiest places you can be.

For anyone who regularly reads my blog, you know that I am a germaphobe. However, my husband (who likes to come along on my work trips if I'm going to a cool city) isn't a germaphobe.

I can easily go through a whole package of antibacterial hand wipes during a 4 day trip. That nasty tray on the airplane? It's getting wiped down before I have my pretzels and Coke!

Think it's not that dirty? CNN has a slide show called "Journeys with Germs" What are the dirtiest things on the airplane?"  You might be surprised!  

Think of everything else you touch - door knobs, elevator buttons, the TV remote in the hotel. 

I use the antibacterial wipes like a mad woman. And follow it up with hand sanitizer.

The Hubby? Not so much. 

Even though I gave him a travel pack of wipes and practically begged him to slip them in his pocket and use them while he was sight seeing.

Did it happen? Nope. 

This is the 4th trip we have had, and this is the 4th time he has become sick from out trip. So he coughs and sneezes and doesn't wash his hands, and then I get sick.

So, what happens when the Mom is sick? Well, it's almost comical - watching my family stumbling around the kitchen, opening cupboards, the fridge and freezer - like a magical meal will just appear! Not while Mom is sick.

They are a little clueless when it comes to Mom being sick. Usually, I check to see if the kids need a cold washcloth for their forehead. Popsicles? Snack? Movie to watch? 

Nobody checks on me when I'm sick.

 So, I just pull the nebulizer out and put it close to me so I can have a breathing treatment while I'm propped up on the couch. I pile up my cough drops, prescription cough medicine, box of tissues and throat lozenges. Then I keep a note pad handy so I can write down what time I have each medicine (so I know when I can have the next dose.) 

I tend to get a little fuzzy headed when I'm sick, so it's better for me to write down when I take my meds so I don't forget any of them or take them at the wrong time.

I can image all of you moms reading this and laughing. Because you get it. Our families can win and complain when they're sick and we take care of them. 

But no one takes care of mom when we are sick.

So good luck to all of the rest of you moms out there! 



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

2018 Spring Allergy Capitals

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If you are having a miserable time this spring, then join the club! 

Want to know where your city ranks? Are they one of the top 2018 Allergy Capitals?

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) just released their Allergy Capitals Spring 2018. They rank the 100 largest American cities every years.

The Hubby and I and all 3 kids have allergies, and we are miserable all spring and summer. In fact, at 11:30 last night, 2 of my kids were in a panic because they were out of their allergy medicine!
They are NOT going to have a fun day today....

Where does YOUR city rank for allergies?

AAFA says:


"The top five most challenging places to live with spring allergies this year are:"

"1. McAllen, Texas
2. Louisville, Kentucky   
3. Jackson, Mississippi
4. Memphis, Tennessee
5. San Antonio, Texas"
What do they look at when deciding which cities make the list?  

  • Allergy medication usage (we personally keep the warehouse stores in business by buying allergy medicine in bulk!)
  • Pollen and mold counts
  • Availability of board-certified allergists
So, what do you do if you're miserable? Funny thing you should ask! AAFA has a whole list of things that can help:

  • Limit your outdoor activities
  • Keep your windows closed
  • Use central air conditioning with air filtration
  • Wear sunglasses when you are outdoors
  • Wear a hat to cover your hair
  • Take a shower and shampoo your hair before going to bed to remove pollen from your hair and skin
  • Change and wash clothes worn during outdoor activities
  • Dry your laundry in a clothes dryer, not on an outdoor line
  • Limit close contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Wipe pets off with a towel before they enter your home
  • Remove your shoes before entering your home
  • Wash your bedding in hot, soapy water once a week
  • Rinse the inside of your nose with a nasal rinse to flush out and remove pollens you have inhaled into your nasal passages
  • Use a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® air cleaner (portable or whole house/HVAC)

 If you try all of those things and are still struggling with allergies, you can ask your doc about allergy shots (immunotherapy.)

All 3 of my kids completed 5 years of allergy shots. Their allergies are still there, just not as bad now.

Happy spring - and stock up on tissues! 
 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Advocating for asthma!


Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Allergy & Asthma Network Asthma Blogger Summit. Thanks Tonya and AAN! Who is Allergy & Asthma Network?


"Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to end the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions through outreach, education, advocacy and research."
A big part of what they work on is advocacy. What is advocacy? It's talking to your legislators about important topics for allergies and asthma.

As you can see from the slide, there are several things Allergy & Asthma Network are working on:

  • Safe, effective and affordable medication
  • Affordable and high-quality healthcare and insurance coverage
  • Nurses in all K-12 public schools
  • Appropriate funding for allergy & asthma health and research programs
  • Access to innovative therapies and technologies to advance medical treatment
  • Mitigate environmental health hazards and address climate change
  • End health disparities and move toward greater health equity 
 
I was able to meet with my legislators during Allergy & Asthma Day on Capitol Hill (AADCH). It wasn't as scary as it sounds. I'm not a lobbyist (they are usually paid to meet with ask for people and try to convince members of congress to support their interests.)
 
With advocacy, we talk to our legislators and educate about problems (it's hard for us when the school nurse isn't there to help my child when they have an asthma attack or allergic reaction to a food because the school nurses oversee 5-9 schools, it's important to have stock asthma inhalers in schools to treat students who forget theirs or have an asthma attack for the first time, it would be VERY helpful to have epinephrine autoinjectors in airplane medical kits, etc.) 

Many families go and share stories about how their life is impacted by allergies or asthma. It makes it real for the legislators to see what their constituents are dealing with.
 
In fact, did you know that education and advocacy helped get laws passed in all 50 states that allow kids to carry their asthma inhalers in school? Since schools are drug free zones, students were not able to carry their inhalers with them. Now they can (check with your state, you usually need to fill out a form each school year.)
 
The legislators have so many different problems that they are working on, that it helps when their constituents talk to them and educate them about different issues. I educate about allergies and asthma all day long, every day! They affect my life and my kids. So, it's easy to talk to my legislators. 
 

Want to get involved? You can! Contact Charmayne Anderson at 1-800-878-4403 or CAnderson@AllergyAsthmaNetwork.org.
 
You can help make a difference!  
 
 

 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ah, spring time and allergies!



It's spring and my nose knows it! You can hear LOTS of sneezing going on at my house right now.

In fact, we buy allergy medicine and tissues in bulk. Hello warehouse club, we are headed your way!

My husband and I passed on our allergies to all 3 kids, so we are all miserable together in the spring and summer. Actually, we are miserable year round with allergies, but spring and summer are the worst. 

And nice mom that I am, I also passed along my asthma to all 3 kids too! So it's fun with allergies AND asthma at our house.

The funny thing about it though is that all of us prefer different medicines to treat our allergies and asthma.

Daughter Kitty likes one allergy pill, while her brothers each like a different brand of pill. And Hubby and I both like different allergy nose sprays. 

It's important that you need to find what's right for you and your body.

We have all had LOTS of visits with Asthma Doc, and he has recommended that each of us try different allergy nose sprays and pills. And he always asks for our feedback. Did it work? Did we like it? Why or why not? If we didn't like it, he would advise us to take a different brand. 

Make sure you talk to YOUR doc before you try a new medicine or change one. Tell him why you like or don't like a certain allergy medicine or nose spray.

Kitty and Son #2 don't like allergy nose spray because they get a bloody nose with it. But Hubby and I both use allergy nose spray and DON'T get bloody noses. 
Go figure.

Asthma Doc has also told us a few other things that we use to help with allergies:

  • Keep the doors and windows closed in the house (this keeps the pollen outside)
  • Keep the windows up in the car and use air conditioning (also keeps the pollen out)
  • Use Central Air instead of Swamp Coolers (Swamp/Evaporative Coolers allow pollen into the home and also increase the humidity level. They can also leak, which can cause mold problems)
  • Remove your shoes when you enter the home (store them in a basket or shelf - this keeps pollen, dirt and grime outside.)
  • Shower before you go to bed at night (this removes the pollen from your hair and skin)
  • Wash your sheets weekly in hot water (so, you shower and have a clean body -  then jump into a clean bed with clean sheets. It helps us sleep MUCH better.)
  • Keep your bedroom window closed at night (letting in the evening breeze will also let in pollen)


If you are doing everything you can to avoid the pollen and other allergies, are taking allergy medicine, but are still miserable, it may be time to talk to your doc about allergy shots (immunotherapy.)

Allergy shots are usually covered by insurance and take 3-5 years to complete. So, you need to be committed to them. Read the link above to see how they work. 

And make sure you ALWAYS wait 30 minutes after allergy shots. They tell you to do that just in case you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis.)

It can and does happen after allergy shots. All 3 kids had allergy shots, yet only one had anaphylaxis. And believe me - I never want to see that again as long as I live. Talk about scary!

So, find out what's right for you. Allergy pills? Allergy nose spray? Allergy shots?

Talk to your doc so you can find a way to enjoy spring and summer. 

Now pardon me while I go find my box of tissues. 

Achoo!







Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What's a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C)?


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In every profession, you have titles, licenses and certifications. In the world of asthma, the goal is to be a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C). 

If you want to learn more about asthma, you want to learn from the best, right?!
That's where an AE-C comes in. An AE-C is a voluntary certification in the U.S., so, those of us that have studied for and passed the exam do it because we want to be known as an expert in the field. (I didn't even get a raise after passing the exam and getting my certification!)

It's not a easy exam (only 65% of people who take the exam actually pass it), and it's not cheap (I paid $350 to take the exam) and it takes about 3 hours. Did I mention that it's not an easy test? There are only about 3,500 AE-C's in the US that have passed the exam (that's not many considering there are over 25 million people here that have asthma! )

 How do you qualify to take the exam? NAECB (The National Asthma Educator Certification Board) says you are eligible IF:



1. You are a licensed or credentialed health care professionals OR

2. You provide professional direct patient asthma education and counseling with a minimum of 1,000 hours experience in these activities. 


NAECB lists the following currently licensed or credentialed health care professionals that qualify for the exam under #1.
Physicians (MD, DO)
Physician Assistants (PA-C)
Nurse Practitioners (NP)
Nurses (RN, LPN)
Respiratory Therapists (RRT, CRT)
Pulmonary Function Technologists (CPFT, RPFT)
Pharmacists (RPh)
Social Workers (CSW)
Health Educators (CHES)
Physical Therapists (PT)
Occupational Therapists (OT)
I fit under category #1, and was able to take (and pass!) the AE-C exam because I am a Health Educator and had a rigorous course study for my 4 year Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree. My classes included: first aid, anatomy and physiology, biology, physical science, behavioral science, epidemiology, human diseases, medical terminology, ethics, health and diversity, environmental health, modifying health behavior, research methods, bio- statistics, etc.

Once I made it through all those classes and graduated in Public Health, I could sit for the CHES exam through NCHEC. (This is also a $300 exam that takes 3 hour and also has a low pass rate.) It also means you are top in the field of Public Health. To maintain my CHES, I must re-certify with 75 continuing education (CE) credit hours over a 5 year period. I have to keep my CHES credential current to keep my AE-C current. With the AE-C credential, you need 35 hours of CE credits over 5 years. So that's 110 hours of CE credits.....every 5 years.

What does all this mean?

It means that anyone who takes the test must have at least a bachelors degree and some pretty intense classes in hard science, health, and medical field. 

AND once you pass it, you must continue to learn more by attending webinars from Allergy & Asthma Network , the EPA, state health department asthma programs, etc. This helps us learn more about the latest research, medications, changes to the guidelines, and much more.

I also attend the National Association of Asthma Educators conference.

It means learning, and then learning some more.

And I'm suddenly feeling tired that I have done so much!

So, if you are lucky enough to work with a Certified Asthma Educator, know that they are highly educated and trained, and must continue to learn more and stay updated so they can share that information with their clients.

And with that, I am going to take a nap.  I am tired.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tell you doctor if you hate your medicine!


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My friend was telling me that she just had to use her Albuterol inhaler, and now her hands are shaking. She said that she probably had to use her Albuterol inhaler because she stopped using her controller inhaler. When looked at her surprised, she said she stopped using her controller inhaler because she didn't like the way it made her feel.  

I wanted to give her one of those, "You know better than that!" lectures. Instead, I gently reminded her that her controller inhaler does just that - controls the swelling in her lungs. It's a preventative medicine (just like people who take medicine for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.) You have to take your preventative medicine every day, knowing that it works. 

I grabbed my asthma medication poster from Allergy & Asthma Network and showed her the rainbow of inhalers that are available. 

I told her that if she doesn't like her medicine, let her doctor know! The doctor is going to send a prescription to the pharmacy, and if they don't hear back from you, they are going to assume that you are taking it. 

I showed her the green stripe on the poster, which shows all of the combination inhalers. That's the row that she's on now. I showed her where her inhaler was on the row and showed her all of the other inhalers that she could take. A lot of that depends on her insurance and which medicines her insurance company decides it wants to pay for. 

It's helpful if she works with her doctor and pharmacy to see if she can switch her inhaler. I mean, what's the point of paying for an inhaler (we all know they aren't cheap.....) if she's not going to use it?  

If you get a new inhaler, and don't like it. Don't stop taking it! Call your doc and let him know you don't like it. They can change your prescription to one you will use. 

We all want good, healthy lungs. And part of keeping your lungs healthy is taking care of them. Which means staying on your controller inhaler if the doctor has prescribed one for you.

So, keep that conversation going with your doc! 


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Coupons for prescriptions



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I popped into the pharmacy yesterday to pick our daily controller inhalers for my daughter and I, and had quite the shock at the register. They range up at $155.

It's a new pharmacy tech, so I said "Wait a minute. What was so expensive?" He said my daughter's controller inhaler was $80, and mine was $75.

I know that my pharmacy will find a manufacturer's coupon and apply that to our co-pay, so instead of paying a $80 copay for my daughter's inhaler, it will be $30. My co-pay for my inhaler is usually $75 but with a coupon, I can get it for $25.

Some of you may be thinking, "I pay WAY more than that each month for my inhaler!" I get it. My work has a $6,000 deductible for our insurance, which is a complete joke. My coworkers have to pay $250 EVERY month for their inhaler. They also have to pay full price for every doctor visit and emergency room visit.

So, I use my husband's insurance instead. It has a lower deductible and covers medications and doctor's visits once we meet our deductible. 
I know I shouldn't complain about paying $80 and $75 for an inhaler. But that's not all we get at the pharmacy. There are 5 people in my family with allergies, and 4 have asthma. So, we end up buying LOTS of controller inhalers, rescue inhalers, Albuterol vials for the nebulizer, and allergy medicine.  Plus medicine for other chronic conditions. So we use the manufacturer's coupons anytime we can!

When my son was younger, he was on a biologic (injections) for asthma. His little vial of Xolair was $1,000 every month (he was on the injections for 7 years). Our insurance covered most of it, but we still had a $150 co-pay. And that's on top of all the other inhalers, allergy medicine, and allergy shots. So, we found co-pay help on Needymeds. If you are on Xolair, you can get financial help here. 
Needymeds is a clearinghouse for co-pay assistance. Based on how much you make, you can find help for all/part of your medicine. Any medicine, not just asthma medicine. 

Here is the link to the brand name medications. Just click on the alphabet letter for your medicine. Each medicine will have co-pay help, coupons or both!

I don't use coupons at the grocery store, but I do at the pharmacy! I can save $50 each time I get an inhaler by using a coupon. Sign me up!
I will list some websites below for coupons. Your savings will depend on your insurance. 
Check here  for Dulera and Asmanex (this is good for 12 inhalers.)
If you use Symbicort, check here.
For Advair, check here. 
Check here for QVAR.
There are many more medicines and websites, but I can't list them all. Just type in the name of the medicine and "coupon" in my search bar. See what you can find!  (Or check on the Needymeds website for coupons.)
Another option is to use the website GoodRx. You can type in the name of your medicine and your zip code, and it will tell you how much your medicine costs at each pharmacy near you. Sometimes you can find your medicine for less at another pharmacy.
Good luck!  

Friday, March 30, 2018

1st time in the hospital?


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Last night, a dear friend sent a text to tell me that her daughter was in the hospital. She said she needed my expert help. As a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C), and mom of 3 grown kids with asthma, I knew I could help.

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know that my kids were hospitalized 12 times when they were younger (mostly due to pneumonia but once from smoke from a forest fire.)

So, I have had a little experience with kids in the hospital.

Things I wished I would have know when my kids were first diagnosed:



  • I once heard a doctor say if you wonder if.....and your next thought is "take my child to the emergency room", then go! The hospital has experts that can treat your child. If they just need to be treated and released, they will do that. But if they need to be admitted, you will be soooo glad you took them in to the emergency room. 

  • Ask questions! What is that pill? How often should she take it? What are the side effects? What is the IV for? What are you adding to the IV? What are you giving her for a breathing treatment? (I once had a new respiratory therapist give my daughter the adult dose instead of the child dose for an Albuterol treatment.) How do I know if she's getting better or worse? What should I look for?

  • Do you have a tooth brush? (Yes, the nurse or CNA can bring you a toothbrush, toothpaste and even a pair of scrubs if you are staying the night!) One time, I came to the ER after work with my son, and I was still wearing a skirt and high heels from work. I was not about to spend all night in those! So, the nurse found a pair of scrubs, slippers, and a toothbrush and toothpaste for me.
Let people know your child is in the hospital. When friends and neighbors ask what they can do to help, tell them! Ask them to pick or drop off other kids at school. Ask it they can get some bread and milk while they are at the grocery store. 

Let your child's teacher know. During one of the 12 hospitalizations for my kids, my son's 1st grade teacher came to see him at the hospital and brought a toy for him. Let all of your kid's teachers know that they have a sibling in the hospital. Your other children will need a little extra love and attention during that time. 

Most of all, be kind to yourself. Do some deep breathing to relax, have a good cry if you need one, eat a little chocolate. 

It's hard, but you can get through it!  




Monday, March 19, 2018

Ahh, spring and people burning brush.....Hey, wait!

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It's finally spring out west! And neighbors are already trimming their trees and bushes - and burning the clippings. Argh!

On my way home from work, I drove past a home just long enough for my car to fill up with smoke from them burning brush. I was starting a cold, so my lungs were already cranky. By the time I got home a short 5 minutes later, I was in desperate need of my inhaler.

I love spring - but not when neighbors trim their yard and burn the brush.

When my kids were in elementary school, a big problem was a neighbor who had a small orchard right next to the school. He trimmed all of his trees and decided to burn the tree limbs - during lunch recess - when 500 kids were outside playing. The entire playground was full of smoke.

I was NOT happy.

Since my kids were hospitalized a LOT when they were little, I was always trying to protect their little lungs. So, I marched over to the school to talk to the principal. 

It wasn't just my kids I was worried about. Its ALL the kids in the school with asthma. 1 in 12 kids have asthma, which means 2-3 kids per class, depending on the size. Times that by Kindergarten through 6th grade, and that's a lot of kids in one elementary school with asthma. 

I wanted to protect all of the kids from the fire and smoke. School is out at 3:00, why can't the neighbor wait until then to burn the tree limbs? Smoke has been known to hospitalize kids with asthma (really - my son ended up in ICU from smoke) so fires and smoke me nervous. 

From what I remember, they had me call the Fire Marshall and work out details with him to keep the neighbor from starting a fire and filling the playing with smoke.

Is there another way to get rid of tree branches and bushes? 

We have a lot of trees in our yard - 8 full grown trees, plus lots of bushes and a wisteria vine that grows up our pergola. So when my husbands trims the yard, he ends up with a truck full of branches and clippings.
 
Do we burn them? No!
 
The Hubby loads up the branches and trimmings and drives to the landfill at the edge of town. Our town has a green waste at the landfill, and they use a chipper there to grind up the branches and make mulch. Our town also has green waste garbage cans that we can fill up each week with tree limbs, ivy clippings, grass clippings, etc.
 
All of that goes to the green waste at the landfill, where they combine it into mulch. Then the neighbors head to the landfill to get mulch for their gardens. Win win! Recycling at it's finest!
 
We aren't filling the neighborhood with smoke, we are getting rid of the green waste, and it's being recycled for other neighbors to use in their gardens.  

And most of all, we are protecting our lungs.

Anyone else have a tough time with neighbors burning tree limbs or leaves?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Thanking the hospital staff again


 
We had a nice, long weekend with a Family Member in the hospital. I always hate getting one of "those" phone calls, then jumping in the car and driving 4 hours to the hospital.
 
This family member was in the ICU, then moved to a room on "the floor". 
 
During the 3 days we were there, I noticed the usual - room after room of patients and family members. And staff literally running from one room to the next.
 
How do they do it? Work 12 hour shifts and take care of one patient, run to the next room and are pleasant and helpful in that room?
 
When the nurse, aide or respiratory therapist would come in to Family Member's room. They were friendly, answered questions, and asked if WE needed anything (not just the family member.)
I wouldn't ask them if I needed something,  they are way too busy! Since I was there with the Hubby, one of us could stay in the room and the other could walk down to the cafeteria.
 
After we left to pick up something for Family Member, we decided to stop by a popular sandwich and bakery shop. We bought all of the cookies in the display, had them boxed up and left them at the nurse's desk with a note thanking them for all of their hard work.
 
The nurse popped in the hospital room a few minutes later, and while wiping crumbs from her cheek, thanked us for the cookies. She said she was so surprised that we would do something like that. 
 
I was surprised that she was surprised. Don't they ever get families that thank them?
 
I told her that we see you. We see you run from room to room. We see you patiently answer questions for Family Member (even if you just explained it 5 minutes ago.) We see you being friendly when we know your feet hurt and your back is sore. 
 
We see you and appreciate you.
 
We were surprised to see how quickly the cookies were eaten (and how excited the staff was), so we did the same thing the next day, with a new shift of hospital staff (that's the cookie photo above.)
 
Hospitals can bring out the worst in some people, and I'm sure they are not treated kindly in each room. But, I would like to spread a little joy and love.
 
And if I can do that with a big box of cookies, sign me up!
 
   
 
  
 
 
 
 



Tuesday, February 27, 2018

When to keep kids home from school

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I was listening to the radio on my commute to work and heard the 2 male hosts discussing when it was okay to let their kids stay home from school,  and how they would treat them.

They had opposite views! 

Host A said that he would send his kids to school if they were sick (I wanted to reach through the radio and strangle him....) but if they had to stay home, they had to stay in bed and not have any electronics, Netflix, etc. He said he felt like his kids were "faking it."

Host B said he would keep his kids home if they were sick (thank you!) and to help them feel better, he  would stop and get ice cream, and shoot off confetti cannons. I like his view MUCH better!

As mom to 3 grown kids with asthma, my kids missed a LOT of school when they were little.

How do you know if you should send them? I found a blog from Dr. Chad Hayes called "Too Sick for School? Here's Your Guide"

He covers 25 different illnesses, including asthma, vomiting, rashes, pink eye, etc. Here's what he says about asthma:

"Children with asthma have a lot of different triggers—from allergen exposures to viral infections, exercise, and a lot more. There’s no concern about spreading this to other children (except maybe the cold that kicked it off), so it really depends on the child’s symptoms. If they are having difficulty breathing, or if they need treatments so frequently that the school or daycare can’t provide them, keep them at home. But remember, missing school frequently due to asthma is a sign that it’s not well-controlled."

For me, if my kids were in the Yellow Zone of their Asthma Action Plan, they would stay home. If I knew they were going to need breathing treatments on the nebulizer every 4-6 hours, I would want to keep my eye on them at home. My kids would usually go from bad to worse VERY quickly (and that's why we had 12 hospitalizations.)

It used to drive me crazy when parents would send their kids to school when they were sick. I don't want my kids around someone else who has a fever or is throwing up. Don't share the misery! There were many parents who KNEW their kids were sick and throwing up, but sent them to school anyway. Then it just spreads through the whole classroom, and then to our families.

It's also very easy for a simple cold to turn to pneumonia or bronchitis when you have asthma. And that would mean another hospitalization for my kids.

And when my kids were discharged from the hospital, Asthma Doc would tell me to keep the kids home from school for a week. It takes a while for their lungs to bounce back and he would stress that their bodies need to heal.

Talk to your doc to see what he or she recommends, so you're not infecting the rest of the classroom. 

As for me, when someone is at home sick, they get soup, ice cream, Netflix - and anything else they want. Our lungs work hard with asthma and we deserve a rest! 


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New QVAR!

http://hcp.qvar.com/

What's new with QVAR? If you are using QVAR now, you know that it's just like other inhalers, it uses a propellant to mix with the medicine and makes a nice little spray for you to inhale.

With the new QVAR, it's "breathe actuated". What does that mean?

If you have ever taken Advair, Breo, Anora Ellipta or Utibron Neohaler, you know that you usually click the inhaler device to the side, which will load a dose of the powdered medicine, and then you have to inhale it. 

With the QVAR RediHaler, it's the same idea - except that it's shaped to LOOK like a regular inhaler (which could be confusing for a lot of people).

 I haven't seen one in person yet, but it looks like it works like the ProAir RespiClick. With that rescue inhaler, you will remove the cap - which will click and load the dose, and then you inhale it. It doesn't have a propellant, so you will have to work a little harder to inhale the medicine. 

(For me, that's the hard part of the ProAir RespiClick. If I am having an asthma attack,  I CAN'T inhale very well, so I have a hard time using the ProAir RespiClick and will have to use my nebulizer instead.) But some people like it - so find what YOU like!

The QVAR RediHaler is a controller inhaler, which means you will take it every day. So, you should be able to take it every morning (or every morning and every night) - depending on what your doctor prescribes and easily inhale the medicine.

The reason they are starting to make the "breathe actuated" inhalers is to try to help people use their inhalers the right way. I STILL use a spacer with my inhaler. I'm not very coordinated (I can't walk and chew gum at the same time....) so I use a spacer to make sure I'm getting all of the medicine into my lungs.

Want to see if you are using your inhaler the right way? Watch this video, "Using Your Inhaler with a Spacer or Holding Chamber Device." 

So if you are one of those people who doesn't like to use a spacer with your inhaler, the new QVAR RediHaler might be an option for you. I don't really care what inhaler people use, as long as they USE it every day! (That's why they call them controller inhalers - because they control the swelling in your lungs. But you have to take it EVERY day!)

Asthma medicines are always changing, so thought I would share anything new with my readers. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any medicine you want to change!



 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New York passes bill to protect renters!

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Hats off to New York City for protecting those with asthma!

The New York City Council passed The Asthma Free Housing Act, Intro 385.

What does the bill do?


  • prioritize prevention measures in homes of susceptible persons – those with diagnosed asthma, COPD, or lung cancer;

  • require landlords to inspect for Indoor Allergen Hazards and correct them and their causes using approved methods;

  • require NYC Housing and Preservation Department (HPD) to inspect for Indoor Allergen Hazards and their causes, and issue appropriate violations;

  • require HPD to correct violations for Indoor Allergen Hazards where Landlords fail to do so promptly; 

  • create a system for physician referrals for housing inspections by the City for patients with asthma; and

  • codify safe and effective work practices for remediation of mold hazards.

What does your house or apartment have to do with your asthma? A LOT! There are many asthma triggers in a home or apartment that can make asthma worse. 


It doesn't take much to make our lungs cranky and cause an asthma attack. And if you are living in an apartment and breathing in mold spores, cockroach droppings, mice droppings and tobacco smoke, your lungs are going to let you know that they are not happy. 
 
Want proof that it's affecting renters? The national average for asthma in children is 1 in 11. In some areas of New York City with low-incomes, the rates are 1 in 4 kids.

As a mom with asthma who has 3 kids with asthma, I know that means lots of doctor visits, ER visits, medications and missed school days.

Why pass a bill to protect renters?

Well, you would think most landlords would do the right thing, right? Apparently not! As a former landlord, we would respond immediately if there was a problem with an apartment. We would tell our renters to let us know RIGHT AWAY if something was leaking. The faster we fixed it, the less damage there would be. 

Sometimes, they would call us and say that something had been leaking for months. It would take us a lot longer and be a lot more expensive for us to fix the problem.

We would ask why they didn't call sooner, and would gently remind them to let us know right away if something was wrong so we could quickly fix it.

They would tell us that other landlords would raise their rent or evict them if they asked for a repair.

This is frustrating for me that people don't do the right thing! But apparently we are in the minority of actually wanting our renters to have a nice, clean place to live. 

So, that means passing bills in some cities. 

Thank you New York City for protecting your renters!      




 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Therapy peacocks....oh puhleeze!


I saw something on the news last week that I thought was surely a publicity stunt - a "performance artist" who wanted to bring her peacock on the airplane.
 
Yes, you read that right - a peacock! It seems like there is a big increase in people trying to bring "comfort animals" on airplanes. The thing that is frustrating about this situation is that United Airlines told her 3 different times that she could NOT bring the peacock  - but she came to the airport with it anyway.
 
Oh puhleeze!
 
United Airlines since changed it's policy so owners have to 'confirm that the animal can behave in public and that it's up to date on it's shots.'
 
Here's a quote from a CBS News story:
 

"United has seen a 75 percent year-over-year increase in customers bringing emotional support animals onboard and has experienced a significant increase in onboard incidents involving these animals," the airline said in a statement. "We understand that other carriers have seen similar trends. The Department of Transportation's rules regarding emotional support animals are not working as they were intended, and we need to change our approach in order to ensure a safe and pleasant travel experience for all of our customers."

Speaking of a "pleasant travel experience, " how do those of us with allergies and asthma protect ourselves on a plane? We have rights too you know!

I REALLY don't want to sit next to someone's dog, cat, etc on a long flight. Especially if they are petting their comfort animal or service animal, which will release dog and cat hair (and dander into the air.) 

I would hate to be trapped next to an animal and have allergies set off an asthma attack.  I have had asthma attacks before from people's dogs and cats, but could at least leave their house or yard and get away from the animal. But, being stuck on a plane next to one? Yikes! 

The New York Times shares a horrible story about a family kicked off a plane because their son was allergic to dogs.

George Hobica, founder of  Airfarewatchdog.com says:

“I would say almost every plane has had a dog in the last month, and they’re not deep cleaned very often. You still have dander, and if you’re highly allergic you may react to it"

 From now on, I'll be taking allergy medicine BEFORE my flight - just in case. And I always have my inhaler with me on board the flight. 

If I am seated next to someone with a "comfort animal" or "service animal", I will ask to be re-seated, as far as possible from the animal!

I have no problem with people that need a comfort animal or service animal, I just can't sit next to one on a flight. 

I have a rights too - the right to be able to breath on a flight and not coughing so hard from an asthma attack that I throw up. That would make for a fun flight...




 

 
 
 
 
 



Monday, January 29, 2018

Yeah, I know everything about asthma, you can't help me

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Every time I hear someone say (or act like) they know everything there is to know about asthma, I just want to do a face palm.

This isn't a competition to see who knows more about asthma!

NO ONE knows everything there is to know about asthma. There are a myriad of people who work with asthma - researchers, doctors, asthma specialists, health educators, parents of kids with asthma, people with asthma. 

We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences.

I LOVE the work researchers do! They find new medications, develop new asthma tracking apps, experiment with environmental interventions. etc. Do they know everything about asthma? No - because many of them don't actually LIVE with the disease! But some researchers ask patients to help guide their research based on their experiences (with asthma, diabetes, cancer, etc.) PCORI is one example of an organization that funds research guided by the patients!  

I love my doctors too - but many of them don't have asthma either. And if Asthma Doc is out of town, I may have to go to my Primary Care Doc. He doesn't specialize in asthma or understand what it's like to live with asthma, but he can follow the NAEPP guidelines for asthma control. That helps him to know what medications to prescribe and when to change them based on a patient's control or severity. 

Health Educators can provide what the doctors and nurses don't have time to do - asthma education. But it may be hard for them to really "get it" if they don't live with asthma and have never had an asthma attack.  

Parents of kids with asthma really have their hands full, managing each kids' symptoms and prescriptions. As the mom of 3 grown kids with asthma, I spent my fair share of time at Asthma Doc's office, the Pediatrician's office, After Hours offices, Emergency Room and in the hospital. But, since I have asthma, I knew EXACTLY what they were feeling and how to help them.

There are people who have asthma but don't have allergies. So they can have dogs, cats, and a yard full of flowers. Wow! How would that be? IF someone's dog walks up to me, (and even if I don't pet it), I will start sneezing and have my chest tighten up.

Those of us with asthma AND allergies have a very different viewpoint of asthma. Especially when you are allergic to so many different things - that can all set off an asthma attack. Some of us take allergy medicine every day, some of us have years worth of allergy shots. Some do both.

Some parents have never had to deal with a kid with asthma being hospitalized (lucky!) My kids were hospitalized 12 times for asthma (2 ICU). I was usually sitting at their bedside, coughing right along with them, because when they got pneumonia, I got pneumonia. 

Some people with asthma only have to use their Albuterol (rescue inhaler) a couple of times a year. Wow....really? How would that be? I use mine once or twice a week (and I already take a daily controller inhaler.)

Some people with asthma have never had to use a biologic. Biologics are medications given by injection for those whose asthma can't be controlled with traditional treatment programs. My son started on the first biologic back in 2008 and had monthly injections for 7 years!
 
Do any of these people know more than someone else? No - because we all experience asthma differently.

Even if you think you know everything, you can always learn more!

I watch webinars every month from Allergy & Asthma Network.   

I watch asthma webinars from various state health department Asthma Programs, the EPA and CDC. 

I attend national asthma education conferences every year.

I read about new research in medical journals (they're really not that bad once you get used to them!)

How do you stay up to date?

Asthma is always changing, and if someone wants to share something with you, you can politely listen. If  it's new info, great! If if something you already know, that's okay - they were trying to help.

Remember that we all come from different backgrounds and experiences and asthma is different for everyone. It's not a competition of who knows more, it's a collaboration to learn and share!

 
 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How much does asthma cost?





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Allergy & Asthma Network recently shared a story on their Facebook page from The Daily Mail. 

(I found it rather funny because a newspaper from England was reporting about asthma in America!)

How expensive is asthma? Well, it ranks right up there with cancer, which costs $87 billion in healthcare. Asthma costs $80 billion. Wow!

How much does that mean for the average person with asthma? The Daily Mail article says:

$3,266 for the average person

That breaks down to:


  • $640 for doctor appointments
  • $1,830 for prescriptions
  • $105 for ER visits
  • $176 for outpatient hospital visits
  • $529 for hospital care
Where does The Daily Mail get that data?

 "The research is based on a six-year survey on more than 200,000 people from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the most comprehensive source of data on health care use in the US."
You may be thinking, "We don't spend that much!" 

 Or you may think, "We spend WAY more than that!" 

I had a son that started on biologic injections (those are shots for people with severe asthma, whose asthma can't be controlled with standard asthma medicines.) My son began getting shots in 2008, and his vial of medicine for his shots was $1,000 back then. I'm sure it's closer to $1,500 now. So, we would be spending the average of $3,266 in three month (when you add in doctor's office visits for the shots, inhalers, etc.)

Hospitalizations for us were more than $529, ours averaged about $1,000 a day. The kids were usually hospitalized for 3 days, so we would easily top $3,000 for a hospital stay (and sometimes we had 2 kids in the hospital at the same time - thanks to pneumonia!)

Add to that missed school and work days, and it really adds up. (They estimate $3 billion in missed school and work days.) 

When my kids were hospitalized for asthma, they would usually miss the following week of school after they were discharged from the hospital. Asthma Doc stressed the importance that they rest, rest, and rest some more!

So, now that we know we're expensive to treat, what do we do?

The study recommends expanding asthma education so people can better manage their asthma, and to reduce environmental triggers in the home (dust mites, mold, dander from animals, etc.)

You can search for "Asthma Education" online and find a LOT of information, here is info from The CHEST Foundation 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists many asthma triggers and how to reduce those in  your home.

We may be expensive, but we're worth it!
  




 

 






Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Thoughts from a respiratory therapist

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I was at a family party over the holidays and was talking with a family member who is a respiratory therapist. 

Since I work in Public Health, I see things very differently from those who work in the medical field. I wanted to know what the respiratory therapist saw in the hospital every day.

Here are his biggest frustrations/thoughts:



  • Don’t buy cigarettes, buy Advair or Dulera instead (they are controller inhalers). If you stay on your controller, you may not need to go to the ER. (Controller inhalers work to control the swelling in the lungs that happen when you have asthma. If you can keep the swelling down in your lungs, you will breathe much easier.)
  •  Don’t run out of your inhaler! Gotta do those refills! (I am guilty of running out of my controller inhaler - twice! I love that my inhaler has a counter on the back....but you actually have to LOOK at the counter. Oops!)
  •  Don’t smoke (Easier said than done, right? I have 2 family members who have smoked for decades and have tried to quit. It's been a struggle for them, but there are lots of resources out there, including one to help with your Quit Day.)
  • Don’t go to ER and smoke pack of cigarettes afterwards and have to come right back (he can give you a breathing treatment to open up your lungs, but they can tighten right back up after smoking.)

  • Take your inhaler correctly (He says he tries to correct people on their inhaler technique, and they get defensive.)

  • If you like spending money and only getting half the medicine, don’t listen when I try to correct your technique. (He's not trying to make you mad, he just wants you to get all of the medicine that you should be getting!)

  • People who say, "You’re wrong, I’ve been taking it this way for years." He has to tell them, "Well, it’s still wrong, no matter how many years you’ve been taking it that way." ( I hear that all the time - I know what I'm doing! I've had asthma all my life! One study looked at various  research studies and found that between 50% - 100% of people do not use their inhalers correctly. )

  • Don’t get defensive, I’m here to help you get the most out of your medicine. (Notice a theme going on here?)
  • When people say, “no one has ever told me that before!(As a parent of 3 kids with asthma, who were hospitalized 12 times when they were young, I'm sure I missed a lot of what respiratory therapist, doctors, and nurses were trying to tell me at 3am while I was sleep deprived and struggling with a migraine at my kid's hospital bedside. So I understand how people can miss what is said. You really can learn something new every day!)

He finished with, "It's frustrating because I know people are going to do what they want to do, and go right back smoking, not using their controller inhaler, and not using correct technique."

Think YOU are using your inhaler the right way? Here's a video that shows correct inhaler technique

So remember, the respiratory therapist is your friend! He's not trying to make you mad by correcting your inhaler technique, he's not trying to annoy you by asking when you're going to quit smoking, etc. He WANTS you to be healthy, be able to breathe well - and NOT have to come back to the Emergency Room.