Having the inhaler and having the nebulizer at home is very helpful because even Caleb knows how to do that. The meds he can do himself; all I need to take care of is the timing when he has to do it.


Treatments can make him more hyper
The only time his asthma really affects Jason is when it acts up. Otherwise, he can do basically almost everything everybody else can do. But if he’s got a cold, or if he’s eaten something he’s not supposed to have eaten– because for him his asthma’s mainly because of his allergies– his asthma acts up. Then he has to do the nebulizer treatments. They get him more hyper than he normally is, and then he tries to run around more, and he can’t breathe, so it makes it hard.


It scares him
When Brian does get an attack, it scares him. It’s very frightening. There are these billboards around our town that say “When I have an asthma attack I feel like a fish out of water.” I think that’s a really good description of an attack. He gets terrified when he can’t breathe. Probably the most difficult thing for him is that when an attack occurs, it’s hard for him just to remain calm, to know that he’s actually going to be okay, that he just needs his medicine.


He’s gotten calmer, but needs us to tell him it will be OK
Brian has gotten calmer during flare ups as time goes on. It’s been I guess four years now since he was diagnosed with asthma, and he is calmer about it, but he does definitely need either me or his dad to be there and tell him it’s going to be okay, to just relax and to take a breath of the Albuterol. We use a nebulizer; the inhaler doesn’t really work for him because he panics and he won’t take a breath out of an inhaler. So we do the nebulizer instead so that he gets something in, and as the something gets in, he calms down as he can start breathing again.


An emotional thing
My mother thinks Lucy’s asthma is an emotional thing, that she triggers it herself. Sitting here thinking about it now, yeah, I think it could be true. She was all excited to have a baby sitter she hasn’t seen in a while stay with her when I left the house one morning, but by the time I got home five or six hours later, she was just like a totally different kid– totally drawn and wheezing. Also, there was one night this week my 20 year old son came up to visit and I said to her, “I’m just going to walk Aaron outside and I’ll be right back in five minutes.” I went downstairs, said good bye to him, came back and by the time I got back to her room she was in an emotional state, she’d got herself all worked up and was wheezing. We took her to the hospital, and that night they had difficulty with her. They had to keep waking her up, her heart rate kept falling, her oxygen rate kept falling, and they had to keep waking her up and pounding her to get everything inside her again. That made me think she triggers it herself. My mom’s always said it’s an emotional thing.


Brian’s asthma is rather mild, and it in and of itself hasn’t been a problem. However, if he gets a cold, and is exposed to the allergen triggers, the three of them will cause him to go into respiratory distress. And we’re very on top of that. As soon as he starts sniffling, we’re right there with the Albuterol, keeping an eye on him.


We started him on Albuterol at the first sign of a cold
Up until he was five or six, every time Evan got a cold, he would need to use his nebulizer. This made the mere sight of a runny nose on him become so stressful for me. I would see the symptoms coming on for a cold and know that we were in for trouble. Since he’d already been hospitalized twice, I always had that fear in the back of mind. Would we need to rush him to the hospital, how do we know when we should take him or when to call an ambulance? We would start him on Albuterol at the first sign of a cold? I would get up in the middle of the night and use the nebulizer on him while he was sleeping in his crib (and later, his bed) to make sure he didn’t miss a dose.


Making sure he avoids triggers can be difficult
Because Jason’s allergies cause his asthma and he’s only four years old, it’s hard to make sure that he doesn’t come into contact with all the things that could cause his asthma to act up. I mean, even him putting his fingers in his mouth could potentially cause a flare up, especially if he just touched something that he’s allergic to – he constantly has something in his mouth! There are times when he keeps his shirt in his mouth. What if he just brushed up against something he’s allergic to when he was wearing that shirt? It can get difficult.


Educating other adults your child spends time with
I carry Tyson’s asthma medicine everywhere. If he goes out to a sleepover, I pack his medicine which means the person he goes to has to know exactly how to handle it if Tyson has an asthma attack. I think you as a parent need to make sure the parents at the house he’s spending the night at know how to handle asthma. I don’t think you can really leave it up to your child no matter what age he is. I tell Tyson’s grandma she should carry his Albuterol when she spends time with him, not the Flovent, because that’s not what’s going to help him if he has an attack. The Albuterol is going to help during an asthma attack, or if he starts feeling like he can’t breathe.


You can’t forget
I read a lot about asthma, but I believe more that it was really getting to know my son and getting to know his asthma that actually made me learn whether or not he needs an increase or a decrease in his meds. You actually get to know what you child needs for medication, and if you forget a dose you can actually see it in your child. If you forget after a few days, and because I am a very busy mother I do forget sometimes that he does need his morning Flovent, I really see symptoms of asthma coming right back, and he gets ill. So I don’t forget. You can’t forget.


Tyson did not want to take the things when he was a little boy, he didn’t want anything to do with this air chamber or the medications. But as he got older, he was telling me that he needed his medicine. Now, at age four, he’ll say, “Mom, you forgot to give me my pill last night.”


Treat the asthma, not the cold
When Tyson gets a cold, he has to increase his asthma medicines more because he can have asthma attacks when he gets a virus or the flu. If he gets sick with a cold they tell me I can increase the amount of Albuterol I give him and give it to him like I would give him Robitussin, every four to six hours. He needs the Albuterol because it is asthma which is underlying that cold. So you have to treat the asthma more than you need to treat the virus. It’s a complicated situation– I used to think that having him take that much Albuterol was a lot, but because he does have asthma, he needs those doses to keep him progressively doing okay. Otherwise, he goes downhill and he ends up in the hospital.


Telling him over and over so he knows what to do
Tyson can tell you how to do his medication now. He actually can tell you that he needs two puffs of the orange colored one, and he needs two puffs of the pink and gray colored one, and he’ll tell you that he needs six breaths in between each puff. I tell him over and over and over, every single morning when he takes his medication, “OK breathe Tyson. You need to breathe in, you need to breathe out.” I still say that with him even though he knows the deal, so when he’s not with me he knows what he needs to do.


Maintenance medications are automatic
For us, taking his maintenance medicines is automatic. I think part of that is because I have asthma, too, so I am programmed to doing the inhaler. It is not anything that is new to me. When Toby was on oral medications I had a much harder time remembering that, but I’m pretty attuned to the inhalers. I think the bigger thing that I worry about is that, because I titrate the medications depending on how he’s doing, making sure I’m not giving him too much or too little medication.


Educating him has helped
Even though he’s only four, I have been educating Jason about his allergies and his asthma. He’s known since he could talk what he’s allergic to, so if he does go somewhere he’ll ask if there will be anything he’s allergic to there. Even if he’s with someone else, he’ll ask. So that keeps me feeling like he’s a little bit safer. So he’ll be like, “Oh, does that have peanuts?” And my seven year old nephew, when he’s with my son, will say “Hey, he can’t have that!” So, the education part has helped. And constant reminding.


Well sometimes I worry and get a little flustered when I’ve got to fit the nebulizer into the family’s schedule. But mostly, it’s just become a way of life. For my one year old son, Logan, his nebulizer time is also sit down and cuddle time, or read a book time, or playing games time.


Extra Reassurance
My attitude and my husband’s attitude is to maintain Anthony’s asthma and to keep on it, but he still has to be a kid. We have a nebulizer at home and medicines on us all the time. When we travel, the nebulizer travels with us, and the medicines travel with us. And we just went to Disney World in Florida, and we just took everything with us. We never had to use it, but we just kept everything in a little bag, and it was just an extra reassurance. Asthma doesn’t stop us from doing anything. I think we’ve learned to live with it and to not make it a crutch for us.


Doing things on a daily basis
It took me a few years to realize how much healthier Katie would be if we did simple things that our allergist had always suggested or recommended, like saline rinses, nasal rinses, and saltwater rinses of the nasal passages. We’d always been very diligent about making sure her bedroom was pristine, having no rugs in the bedroom, getting her linens washed once a week, and making sure she never wore pollen covered clothes up to her bedroom. But it took me a while to realize how important it was to do these things on a daily basis.



Finding a nebulizer in the phonebook
When we had to go the hospital, we had to wait an hour for a pediatrician to come before they would give us a nebulizer. They were adamant that they would not give us the nebulizer before that. And all we needed was the nebulizer, because we had our own medicine. We just needed to be able to administer it. Since then I’ve found in the yellow pages a twenty four hour service near where my parents’ house is where you can call up and say “Hi, I need a nebulizer now.” I think it’s a medical supply company of some sort. So, I’m more aware of these sorts of things when I travel. If I did find myself somewhere without a nebulizer and I needed it, I know that there are places out there that are open twenty four hours a day for medical supplies. You can look that up in the phonebook and find it.


The proactive changes have made a difference in his life
We put covers on all the mattresses even though we’re not sure if Brian’s asthma is allergy related or not, and I clean the house more often than I would otherwise do, and I bought HEPA filters for my house. I bought HEPA filters for my parents’ house, too, because we visit there fairly often. I have a cat, and I’m not supposed to have a cat, but it’s my son’s best friend, so the cat goes to the groomer regularly to get scrubbed. My brother, who has a son who is asthmatic, has not done all of that. And my brother’s son’s asthma has continued to be bad; Brian gets maybe one attack a year now. And I feel that all the proactive stuff that we’ve done with him has been good, and that it’s made a difference in his life. He doesn’t miss as much school as his cousin does, and he doesn’t get as sick as his cousin does.


Two years ago I took Brian on a trip and there was a trigger in the hotel room. I had to check out of the hotel in the middle of the night because he couldn’t breathe. Now, when I do go someplace, I will look up where the nearest hospital is the directions to go there. I will plan for the worst case scenario. It gives you a really comfortable feeling when you get there, because if something happens, boom. You know how to get there.


We’re most aware of situations we put him
We’re more aware of what type of a situation we’ll put Brian in. If there’s bad air quality outside during the summer, for example, I’ll keep him indoors instead of letting him play outdoors. I listen more carefully to his breathing I’ll take him to the doctor quicker for colds. Most people wait four or five days for a cold to pass, but if he’s sick for two days and not getting any better I’ll take him in and have him checked out. So, I would say it’s affected us in those ways, but we still get out and do things and pretty much treat him just like everybody else.


Asthma was there, but being dealt with
My other kids learned to watch for Bridget’s asthma signs. Her little brother was born into it. He knew from the get go that Bridget had asthma, and that Mom and Dad took care of it. We always did things together as a family when Bridget wasn’t sick. Whether we’d go boating, or fishing, or swimming, or go on vacations, or whatever. We never did anything to make her feel as though she was a half person. We always made her feel that even though the asthma was there, we were dealing with it.