Monday, November 01, 2010

Mom's Asthma: Question for you guys

Hi, all -

As I enter my first full season as a newly-diagnosed asthmatic, I have a few questions for you. As you know, I took myself off Symbicort this spring - I just felt ill from that stuff. I intend to find a new pulmonologist soon and look at some different meds.

Anyway, this past week, everyone in my office, on the bus, apparently in most of lower Manhattan, has had a violent, horrible-sounding cough. Seriously, I thought my boss was going to break a rib in the office, the way he was coughing.

Yesterday, when I woke up, I felt run down and a little "fluffy-headed." I had a very slight fever. I'd been feeling a little tightness in my chest the day before, but not enough to make me think this was asthma-related.

Today I have the same feelings...fatigue, a little tightness, but no fever. Is this the start of a flare? What should I be doing?

Thanks for your tips!

PS - the kids have been doing well. B's had some bad allergies, but no major flares. Oz has been doing really well...but I'm terrified that I've caught whatever horrible illness the folks around me at work have, and that one of the boys (Oz, particularly) will end up in the ER again.

They're all getting flu shots in the morning!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Off Symbicort - and Surviving

Quick update - Last month, I went off Symbicort.

While it may have been helping, I couldn't shake the feeling that, at least in warm weather, my asthma really isn't that bad. And with the improving weather, I felt crappier than ever AND I was getting yeast infections, a pleasure I haven't experienced in a good 10 years. (BLECCH.)

So I took myself off the Symbicort, making sure to always carry an albuterol MDI. And you know what? I've been fine. I'm also avoiding processed foods, exercising every day and trying to drink plenty of water. I still don't get enough sleep, but I don't expect I'll ever get that!!

Come fall, I'll find a new pulmonologist and make sure I'm set up for the cold weather. But for now, I feel OK. I barely need the MDI - even though I'm now in the city every day in 90+ degree weather.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Kids' Diagnosis and Note on ProAir

We saw my *least* fave pediatrician in the group. She diagnosed both boys with sinus infections, and said their lungs were clear. She said it might be viral, but she wanted to start antibiotics anyway.

I'm going to wait 24 hours before starting.

I'm also going to take Oz to the pulmonologist.

I don't believe in taking antibiotics for everything. If you're not SURE it's bacterial, why do antibiotics? Why risk developing resistance? Although I'd hate to put Oz at risk for another pneumonia...Would I be doing that? And Ig seems to be completely on the mend already.  Thoughts?

I did show her our barely functioning ProAir inhaler, too. She said they know it's an issue, and they've got calls into the manufacturer. She said to insist on either Ventolin or Proventil next time, although I'd be just as happy with the Warwick generic. But glad I said something.

I wonder if I can return the two ProAir MDIs I have for another brand...?

Update: Went to the pulmonologist, who sent us for a chest X-ray. It was clear! Looks like we're definitely sinus infection/ asthma flare. The PP wants us to start the Biaxin, so I guess we will.

A word on Albuterol MDIs

Have to make this quick note on MDIs, particular rescue inhalers....First, I actually preferred the old aerosol MDIs as a parent, although I'm green as can be and I hate CFCs. But those things worked well, particularly if your kids need spacers. Whatever that ozone-eating propellant was, it *worked.* Some of the new ones work well, too - but not as well as the old ones.

Since I've been diagnosed, I've had free samples of Ventolin and Proventil. I liked how well these worked, and I also liked that they had counters. But of course, my insurance doesn't cover name brands.

There are two generics I seem to be able to get from my pharmacy. One is Warwick. I like this one. Despite the fact that there's no counter! But it works well and reliably.

The other generic I get is ProAir. I do NOT like ProAir. It comes in a red case - maybe you've had it, too? What I find with this product is that you can not press the product down hard enough to get a decent amount of the medication out. Additionally, it clogs. All. The. Time.  To me, this is a big problem. If I actually need my rescue inhaler, I probably need for it to actually work.

What's worse is trying to use ProAir with a spacer. My kids' asthma is FAR worse than mind, and half the time I can't tell if they're actually getting medication.

So in the spirit of brevity: Makers of ProAir  - albuterol is albuterol, the meds are fine, but PLEASE - give us a better MDI!! (And maybe include a counter?)

Please don't let it be pneumonia. Please don't let it be pneumonia. Please...

Home with the two younger boys today. Ig started coughing over the weekend, started running low-grade on Sunday. He's 99.3 now, but his cough is awful. He has to draw in a huge, narrow breath, and then he lets out this long spell of deep, resonant, slightly muffled-sounding coughs. He only weighs about 40 pounds, so they seem to take over his entire little body.

Oz had his usual dry, asthma for a few days, and we were giving him albuterol, but yesterday he really needed a neb before school. At 1:30, he was sent home from school. His teacher said he hadn't been himself all day - too quiet, low on energy. When the nurse called for us to pick him up, she said he was running about 99.

He needed a neb the second he got home, and he was running 99.9.  Overnight, he was coughing his head off, of course, and I had to give him albuterol and ibuprofen overnight. He was over 102 at 5:30 this AM.

Ig was up a lot overnight, too. I gave him Dimetapp.

This morning, Oz's cough was soooo bad. I gave him a neb of Xopenex, but less than an hour later his was still coughing violently, so I gave him another neb - DuoNeb this time. The DuoNeb has alwasy worked well for us, but it really hasn't slowed the coughing today.

The sound of the cough is different since that neb - it sounds more resonant. Maybe it's loosened up a bit? I can't say for sure, but it sounds AWFUL. And he's still coughing til he gags, pretty much.

This is NOT going to be a fun day. This seems so similar to what we went through in January with the pneumonias - I'm just praying this isn't the same thing!

I'm calling the doctor as soon as they open at 8:30 ET. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Students Face Health Risks from Air Contamination | Environmental Working Group

Classroom asthma, Children's Asthma created by cleaning supplies | Environmental Working Group

Posted using ShareThis

Found this while surfing ... thought my "Mom" readers, as well as any students, might find it helpful and interesting. I sure did.

We've been switching, slowly but surely, to green and safe cleaning product. Most of what we use is from Trader Joe's "Next to Godliness" line, and we've also tried and liked WowGreen and some other brands. (Call me wacky, but I just don't feel like I've really *cleaned* when I've used only vinegar. And it leaves my house smelling like a tossed salad.)

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this one!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Asthma/Allergy Update - me, B and Oz

So, lately our house has been feeling a little...small. It's a great house - a ranch with a full walk-out basement. Not a stitch of carpet anywhere, and we've kept it fairly upholstery free. (If you're asthmatic, you know that the first thing you look for in a house is hardwood and/or tile!)

We have three bedrooms...and three kids. The two oldest boys love sharing a room with a bunk bed, and Ig has his own room. But the living space is very close to the bedrooms, and while we've made the basement into a bright and fun rec room, the kids don't spend a ton of time down there.

....which is why we've been hitting open houses on weekends. We're not sure we're serious about moving, but we're curious to see what's out there. Plus, we're having some "issues" with our town's special education programs, and they may well be insurmountable, so we may well have to move, once we find a town that's more willing to provide necessary  services for Ig. But that's another post for another day.

So, to my point. We went to an open house on Sunday, and in addition to having two cats, they also had loads of potpourri to hide the cat smell. And loads of broadloom. As soon as we walked in, I took two puffs of albuterol.

After checking out the house (beautiful curb appeal, bad corner, weird downstairs floor plan), we headed home. Within five minutes, I was coughing hard enough to gag. More albuterol.  Then I was OK for the rest of the day...but the next morning, I felt like I'd swallowed a Nerf ball, and it had lodged somewhere between my throat and chest. Not a nice sensation. And my chest hurt, too. I wasn't sure if it was asthma-related, indigestion, or just muscular.

I'm much better today, but realizing that I have a lot to learn about my triggers and the severity of each trigger.  A few sips of ice water got me going today! I need to start documenting what they are. Also, I need to see about getting a spare inhaler.  Right now I have one that I keep in the bathroom, and one I carry with me, but my purse MDI only has a few puffs left on it. Will they give you an RX for spare?

In other news, B tried eggs today for the first time since he was a baby. He had a moderate allergy, and they used to make him vomit. Last time he had them, just a few years ago, his face went bright red and he had a headache. He's always afraid to eat them - as well as mayo, French toast, and anything else "eggy."

But today, he had a little bit of my hard-boiled egg - just a few bites of white and yolk, and he's been perfectly fine.

But Ozzy's been coughing ever since. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mom's Asthma - Symbicort

Another quickie update -

While the Asmanex did stop the coughing, mostly, I had a heavy feeling in my chest and just didn't feel well overall. I almost felt like there was a wet sponge wedged under my sternum, and it sort of pulsated or spasmed before I started coughing. Ick.

I called the doctor's office when I ran out of the Asmanex, and told them I wasn't feeling that much better. They gave me a sample of Symbicort, which I've been on  before.

It's only been a few days, and while I'm coughing a bit more, I feel SO much better overall.The only downside is that I keep losing my voice.

For other people, this might not be a big deal but (surprise!) I sing professionally and am booked every Friday this month. I had to cancel last week, because I couldn't get through two songs, and I'm supposed to sing four. During rehearsal, I was so winded after my first number, I could barely get through the less challenging second song. Singing, after all, does rely heavily on breath support.

When I asked the doctor about the laryngitis - which seemed to occur after every presentation I gave, or any time I spoke for 10 minutes at a time or longer - he said it was probably from the Symbicort. So, in addition to rinsing my mouth after taking the stuff (which you should do after taking ANY inhaled steroid), I am now gargling. It's very feminine and appealing, I assure you.

So...hopefully we're on the right path now. I'm looking forward to feeling better soon!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Update on Mom's Asthma

Two quick things:

  • First of all, I doubled my Asmanex dose, so now I'm doing two puffs in the AM and in the PM.Within 48 hours of dose-doubling, my cough pretty much stopped completely - despite the fact that I seem to have a head cold. Pretty impressive. Still need albuterol from time to time (like right now, in fact), but sooooo much better!
  • Secondly, I found this article on cough-variant asthma, and it's seems 100% like what I've got. Cold air and strong smells are definitely among my biggest triggers, and I don't think I've ever wheezed.

The timing for the sudden improvement is pretty fortuitous. I have a singing gig every Friday night in March, and I was in no shape to perform. The big concern: My accompanist has about 5,000 cats, and his whole house does kinda reek of cat pee. Should make for a fun rehearsal. I'll definitely bring the MDI!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Doubling the Asmanex

Just a quickie update - Peak flow hasn't exceeded 420, and I've been coughing my HEAD OFF.

The pulmonologist told me to try doubling the Asmanex - 2 puffs in the AM, 2 at night.

Hope it works, because I'm actually *sore* from coughing.

...quick question for you more experienced asthmatics...does the cough ever start with an itch or tickle in your throat? I'm congested today, and the cough seems to start there, but then it's pretty convulsive and nonstop, and I typically end up (embarassignly) gagging. Horrible!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

That was dumb.

I was doing so well... until Monday night. I thought the kitchen smelled funny, so I lit a scented candle.

And then I wondered why the Asmanex and albuterol weren't working anymore. Oh...because, apparently, vanilla-scented candles are a trigger for me.

I haven't broken 410 on the peak flow meter since Monday, but at least the coughing is starting to let up again....

I'll learn!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Peak Flow Today

About 430. And no coughing. Hmmm.....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Coughing has just about stopped...

...just like the doctor said! He said Saturday, and it's Sunday, and I'm not coughing!!

Peak flow: Just over 400. Still lower than it should be.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mom's Peak Flow Meter

OK, so I got my peak flow meter today.

Here are my benchmarks:

I should be around 471 if I'm healthy, according the chart that came with the meter. (It's a PDF)

I'm blowing about 400 right now. Would we make that....yellow?

Admittedly, I was still questioning whether this asthma or chronic post nasal drip (I *love* denial! And I never had reason to believe that I was asthmatic) but I guess daily peak flow tests will make me a believer.

If I'm anywhere near 465 two weeks from now, I'll buy into the diagnosis.

Meanwhile, I'll try to remember to post my scores every day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I have asthma.

I was diagnosed by a pulmonologist yesterday.

I think I caught it from my kids. ;-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Albuterol vs. Xopenex - the debate continues!

Three years ago, I posted an article that stirred up huge debate regarding the value of Xopenex vs. Albuterol.

Amazing how many comments that post still gets!! I thought I'd bring it back to top of the blog to see who else wanted to weigh in.

Here's the original post.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And the pneumonia just keeps on comin'!

Update -

Sent Oz back to school yesterday. He'd been fine all weekend, and practically bouncing of the walls. He couldn't wait to get out!

When he came home, he immediately lay down on the sofa and fell asleep.

That is NOT like my Oz.

When I checked, he was running 100.8 and complaining of pain in his chest and a headache.

I put him to bed early, but he woke up shortly after crying hysterically - he was completely incomprehensible. Then he threw up all over my bed. Then he fell asleep again.

Next time he woke up, not an hour later, the screaming resumed. He was in pain, scared - I don't even know what. I started to warm up the car so I could take him to the ER.  But by the time I came back in, he was asleep again.

I'd spoken to the doctor twice by this time. She warned me that it could either be an effusion or a mucus plug. (eeeeuwwww.)

He made it through the night after that. He was laboring to breathe a bit, but his respiratory rate was OK.

This morning, we had to go back to the doctor, of course. And of course, we were sent for another chest X-ray.

The results? The Zithromax he'd been taking wasn't working. The pneumonia had actually gotten worse! WTF??!!!

So... while it may actually be a viral pneumonia, we're starting Omnicef tonight.

Wish us luck.  We're back to the pulmonologist next week.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

And still MORE pneumonia

Yes, really.

Oz was diagnosed today, after a chest Xray.

Last night was one of those hellish nights (we've all been there) where we were sitting up doing back-to-back nebs at 1:00AM.  Poor guy couldn't stop coughing.  And he's been running a fever (lower-grade) since Tuesday AM.

After barely sleeping, I can't tell you how much fun it was to run Oz around the hospital (where our pulmonologist's office is) and then down to X-ray, with ornery Ig in tow. Blecccch.

Xray showed a mild pneumonia, and since his sats were at 100 and he sounded pretty clear, we don't need oral steroids.

Anyway, we're starting antibiotics tonight. Hopefully, we'll have more sleep, less coughing, and healthier boys in the very near future.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I am in hell.

I have to vent like a big ol' whiner right now.

Today has been so miserable...there aren't even words.

Two sick boys: a four year old with a bad temper and a five year old with a bad attitude. Both feeling unwell enough to really highlight the worst of their personalities.

I've had Ig screaming and whining and carrying on all day. The whining and crying is enough to make me run  screaming into the freezing cold night.

And Oz, "Mr. Cool", just monopolizing the TV and complaining every time I let Ig watch Thomas the Tank Engine.

All this while I'm trying to hash out digital marketing strategies and analyze Google AdWords campaign reports. On a deadline.

I don't know whether to scream, cry, run or take a bubble bath.

The sad part is, Oz really is sick today. I feel bad for him (although he doesn't make it easy sometimes) and I want to take care of him. But Ig is making almost impossible! He's so jealous - I can't get near Oz without him  reacting. And then Oz reacts to THAT, and all hell breaks loose all over again.

I know they're sick, and I'm doing my best to take care of them....but I'm allowed to rant every now and then, right?

Pneumonia - Not Again!

Well, I was all set to send Ig back to preschool today, but he had a brutal fit of coughing last night. Here I was thinking that this would be my albuterol-free child...

I can handle a few coughs, but this was BAD. It sounded like he had croup for half of it, and the other half was this loud, wet-sounding cough-cough-WHEEZE, cough-cough-WHEEZE we'd been hearing a few days back. I wasn't sure if he needed albuterol or Dimetapp, but I figured since albuterol would actually help him breathe, while Dimetapp is purely prophylactic, I'd try the albuterol first. And it worked. The poor little dude went back to sleep after that.

I was on the fence about sending him back to school. If it were just daycare, I would definitely keep him home. But Ig is PDD-NOS (high-functioning autistic) and in a special preschool program in the morning where he gets speech therapy and OT. I hate for him to miss it! But I know how the school nurse gets when you give her that kind of responsibility. If I called her and said, "He had pneumonia last week, but is still coughing. If he breaks into a fit of spasmodic, coughing or sounds like he has croup, can you please call me?" she would tell me to keep him home. After all, the woman's got 500 other kids to worry about.

Anyway, my choice was made for me: This morning, Oz woke up coughing and running 101.  He was coughing yesterday, so I did start him on the albuterol MDI, but we definitely breaking out the neb today, kids.

I wasn't worried about pneumonia - I didn't think pneumonia could be spread AS pneumonia. I thought it was like strep, which doesn't always strike the throat - we've seen it fester as an infected hangnail!

But, horrifyingly, I was mistaken. I asked my dad - a pharmacist who almost died from antibiotic-resistant pneumonia as a teen. Dad said, "Theoretically, it is contagious. I got a lot of nurses sick in the hospital."


I confirmed Dad's assessment on

The bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia can be contagious. But once your son is taking the proper antibiotics for his bacterial infection, there is a minimal risk of passing the organism on. Check with the doctor about your son’s specific case.

Ugh. Guess we're going back to the doctor today...

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Quick Note: Ig's Pneumonia

Just a quick update: Ig developed pneumonia the day we left Canada for home. (We go to Canada for the holidays every year - in-laws are in Ontario.)

He's fine - didn't even need any nebs. Never mind that his fever hit 104.8 on New Year's Day!

Isn't it ironic? The kid who spent his first day of life in respiratory distress in the NICU is the kid with the strongest lungs! Fever started Thursday, and he'll be back in preschool tomorrow.

For the record, I believe this is pneumonia #6 for the mama.