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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Losing my voice with asthma

(Shutterstock image)

This falls under the category of strange but true - losing my voice with asthma.

And this happens to be my husband's favorite thing! Ha ha.

When I have a severe asthma attack, or get bronchitis or pneumonia, I lose my voice. It usually happens after a bad coughing spell.

I can't speak above a whisper. 

The first time it happened, I was really surprised. It doesn't seem to last very long -  if I'm sick, it will last for a few days.

This was a problem this spring when I had bronchitis. I couldn't call Asthma Doc's office to make a doctor's appointment, because they wouldn't be able to hear me on the phone.

So, I had to have whisper to daughter Kitty that I needed her to call Hubby. She told him what was happening, then he called Asthma Doc's office to make an appointment for me. Sigh.

If I have a sudden asthma attack and use my inhaler, I can also lost my voice. It will usually last for a few hours. Then, just as suddenly as when I lose my voice, it will come back. My voice will start to crack and then just come back. 

I feel like I should be in an episode of Brady Bunch when Peter goes through puberty and his voice is changing.

It wasn't always this way. 

This just started about 5 years ago. No idea why.

When I tried to look up reasons online, all I could find was a topic about Laryngitis on WebMd.

I don't like it really fits this situation.

Anyone else have problems losing their voice with an illness or sudden asthma attack?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Embarrassed by asthma?

(Photo of the article from Family Circle Magazine)

Do any of you feel like you are embarrassed by asthma?

I read an article in Family Circle Magazine about kids that are embarrassed to use their medication.

The article was talking about how kids won't take their asthma inhalers, check their blood sugar levels, or give themselves insulin for their diabetes.


Well.....I guess because they don't want to look different. 

Everyone wants to "fit in".
Have your kids felt that way? Most of the times our kids won't tell us even if they DO feel that way. You know, that would mean they would have to talk to us....
But, even adults can feel too embarrassed to use their inhaler in public.
The researcher looked at all of the scientific studies about the stigma about asthma (embarrassment), and how that affects the lives of those with asthma.  (If you want to read his paper, scroll half way down the page and you can download his research paper.)

I used to feel embarrassed to use my inhaler in public.
 But then I decided it was my job to let people see me use my inhaler and realize it's no big deal! After all, I am a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C), and if I don't want to use my inhaler in public, then what kind of example am I setting?!
So, I use it. 
During meetings at work, during church (yep - right there in the middle of the pew), at the movie theater or during my daughter's dance recital.
Once in a while, I will see someone looking at me. I will look back at them and smile, as if to say, "Don't worry, I got this."

I make sure I use proper inhaler technique too. If people are going to watch me, they better see me use it the right way!

If you want to make sure you are using your inhaler the right way, you can watch the video from the Utah Asthma Program.

And if you feel like you need to use your inhaler - do it! It can be scary and dangerous to wait.
And you can help set a good example for those around you. Let them see that it's okay to have asthma and use your inhaler in public!

And if you want to learn how to help your kids with ANY chronic disease, read the article, "No one Needs To Know I'm Sick". 

You'll be glad you did! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sad times can cause asthma attacks?

(Shutterstock image)

Sadness causing an asthma attack? Yep, it can.

Sunday is one of those days I would like to forget.
Even though we have allergies and asthma , we have 2 kitties (long story….we inherited them from our neighbors). Anyway, my sweet little Siamese Kitty seemed really tired Saturday night. We thought he was spending a little too much time wandering around the neighborhood.

He came home and curled up on his favorite chair, nothing unusual about that.
Sunday morning, I woke up to see if he wanted breakfast. He didn’t look good. I’ll spare you the details, but we bundled him up on his blankie and rushed him to the closest animal hospital.

They suspected leukemia or distemper. But let’s face it, either one is fatal.
After $600 in tests, it came back as positive for distemper. The vet told us that Siamese Kitty was really sick, and that of the cats she had seen that had actually survived distemper (very few) were permanently brain damaged and needed special care for the rest of their life.

We couldn’t let Siamese Kitty live that way.

We made the difficult decision to have to put him to sleep. We called the kids to and asked if they wanted to come and say goodbye.

While waiting for them to come, it hit me what was happening, and I started to do the Ugly Cry. And I was crying so hard that I had an asthma attack.

Luckily, I take my inhaler EVERYWHERE I go. I quickly pulled out my inhaler an used that while I was waiting for my kids to come say goodbye to their cute and crazy little Siamese Kitty.

How can strong emotions cause an asthma attack? I like to tell people that when you have asthma, your body over reacts - to everything. I call it the "drama queen effect". For those of you who have had teenagers.....well....enough said, right? They over react to everything. So does your body when you have asthma.

(That's why I have a picture of the crown above.) 

Strong emotions (fear, anger, sadness, laughter, etc) are all things that can cause an asthma attack. I was in such shock that it took me a few minutes to realize that a) I was coughing and b) I needed to use my inhaler.

So, if you find yourself in a situation and your emotions are a little out of control, watch your asthma.

And use your inhaler if you need to! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Child Life Specialists at the hospital

If you ever have to be in the hospital with kids, you may have a Child Life Specialist.

This photo may look familiar to some of you who spend time at the hospital. This is one of our breakfasts in the Emergency Department (after being there for over 4 hours). You can tell which one of us has high cholesterol.....

I get oatmeal and Hubby gets scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns.

Such is life!

But back to the kids. Once they would take one of the kids from the Emergency Department upstairs to Pediatrics, we would meet Child Life Specialist.

We got to know Child Life Specialist REALLY well. For those of you that are regular readers, you know that my kids were hospitalized 12 times for asthma when they were little (2 of those were ICU.)

The hospital can be a VERY scary place for kids (and for parents!) One of the worst parts is when they try to get an IV in the kid's arm. It can be really hard to do when the kids are dehydrated or their oxygen level is low. The nurses would tell us that their veins weren't very "plump", because their oxygen level was so low, so it was hard to get the IV in. 

If any of you have had to get an IV, you know what a super fun experience it can be. Try doing that to a sick kid and have the nurse try to move the IV around to try to get it in the vein just right.

Child Life Specialist would come into the triage room and try to distract the kids. She would blow bubbles, show them funny things, play music - anything to distract them.

Once we were assigned a room on the Pediatrics Floor, she would come visit us to see what my son or daughter liked. Then she would come back with art supplies, video games, snacks, all sorts of stuff to try to make their stay at the hospital a little better.

Child Life Specialist would make sure we understood what was available - pizza on Friday nights, location and hours of the cafeteria and snack bar, play room for the kids while their brother or sister came to see them, a sleep room for parents, how late the valet parking was available and where to get my keys if I left the hospital late at night, even a room for me to use my breast pump.

We LOVED our Child Life Specialist!

Child Life Specialist would generally try to soothe feelings and make our stay as best as it could be.

Here's their job description from the Association of Child Life Specialists:

"....provide evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation and education that reduce fear, anxiety, and pain for infants, children, and youth."

She was a friendly face every time we were in the hospital, and she made our stay a little less scary.

Check out your local hospital and see if they have a Child Life Specialist. They can help make a very scary experience just a little bit better. 

Anyone else have a good experience with a Child Life Specialist?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Think anaphylaxis won't happen to you?

Ya, I had heard of anaphylaxis, a severe life threatening allergic reaction. But that would never happen to us, right? That will happen to someone else. 

I mean, we ALWAYS waited 30 minutes after allergy shots. You are supposed to wait 30 minutes so that if you have an allergic reaction, the doctor's office can spot it and treat you immediately.

All 3 kids had 5 year's worth of allergy shots, so we had a LOT of time sitting in Asthma Doc's office.

One day, Son #2 was in the hospital (again) with pneumonia. Hubby came to the hospital for his "shift", and I went home with the other two kids.

Son #1 needed his twice a week allergy shots, so we headed up to Asthma Doc's office. It was a Friday night, which meant pizza & video night at our house. So, we decided to get allergy shots, grab a pizza, and take it back to the hospital so we could have pizza & video night there. (The Pediatrics unit has a LOT of movies, games, arts and crafts,  etc for kids who are in the hospital.)

As Son #1 was getting his shots, I told Shot Nurse that Son #2 was in the hospital, so we weren't going to stay. We were just going to grab a pizza and head back to the hospital.

She said, "Ah, you guys will be fine. What are the odds that anything will happen?" 

Well, OUR odds. We have the worse luck in the world.


We left the office, and I was about a block away when I heard Son #1 coughing. He said, "Mom - I think something is wrong."

I looked in the rear view mirror and will never forget what I saw. His face and neck were bright red. His eyes were glassy and bulging, and the veins on his neck were sticking out.

I almost drove off the road. I flipped the car around and called Shot Nurse on speed dial. She was calm and said she would get the epinephrine ready, but to drive back carefully.

I was shaking so hard I could hardly hold the steering wheel! We made it back to Asthma Doc's office and burst through the door in a panic. She quickly took us to a treatment room and injected Son #1 with epinephrine. She also started a breathing treatment.

She explained that he was having anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Yep, the ONE time we left early without waiting 30 minutes.

Shot Nurse stayed with us for 2 hours, watching Son #1 and making sure he was stable. She had Asthma Doc fill out a prescription for an epinephrine auto injector. 

She let us know that when you have anaphylaxis, you can have a "rebound" - another reaction later that day.

Meanwhile, Hubby is calling. "Hey, I thought you guys were just going to grab a pizza. Where are you?" I blurted out, "I can't talk - he's having anaphylaxis." Hubby could barely get in a "Wait. What?!" Before I hung up so I could concentrate on what Shot Nurse was saying.

After she felt he was stable, she sent us to the pharmacy. Daughter Kitty was following along, and was only 3 or 4 at the time, so she was pretty scared. And to top it all off, we left her favorite stuffed animal at the pharmacy. Great.

So, we show up at the hospital. No pizza. No stuffed animal. 

But feeling grateful that my son was still alive.

Back in Son #2's hospital room, I told Hubby what had happened. I think I was still in shock. Pediatric Floor Nurse came in and heard what had happened and assured us that if Son #1 had a "rebound", they could quickly get help for him in the hospital. 

We ended up ordering a pizza and having it delivered to the hospital.

So....don't even think about leaving allergy shots without waiting the 30 minutes (or however long your doctor's office asks you to wait.) 

It's not worth the risk. Bring a book (you know - they are made of paper and you turn the page.) Or scroll through your cell phone.

Anaphylaxis can and does happen. When you least expect it.

Don't take a chance.