Saturday, March 02, 2013

Bronchitis, Bronchitis, Bronchitis...Pneumonia?

What a week!

Last week, Ig was coughing for days. He started running a fever on the Tuesday, so I kept him home from school for a few days. Then Friday, Ozzy started coughing - always a concern. By Sunday, he was pretty sick, so I took him to the walk-in clinic. They told me his lungs were clear, but he was pretty sick and running a fever, so I kept him home Monday through Thursday.

Of course, B couldn't be left unscathed. He got sick Wednesday, so he was home Wednesday-Friday. He never seemed quite as sick as Oz, but his cough sounded appalling. I forced him to do a few nebulizer treatments.

[As a note, the symptoms of this illness have been a barking cough and fever. The two older guys complained that their chests hurt on the second day of the illness. Sounds like bronchitis, right? The school vice principal told me a lot of kids were out with bronchitis over the last week. Oz got nebs every 4-6 hours for the first two days, then switched to an albuterol MDI every 6-12 hours.]

Hanging this on our front door...
The school coordinated a trip to go snow-tubing last night. Ozzy seemed well enough and had gone to school, so he went with DH and Ig. B and I stayed home and ordered sushi, which cheered him up since he'd really wanted to go! The other guys got back after 3 hours of snow tubing, chattered incessantly for 15 minutes, then (as if on cue) passed out on the couch.

Today, B seemed better, but Oz was super-whiny. He protested going to dance class, which has been the trend lately. (Doesn't like the new school, hates jazz class, etc. I think he just wants to stay home and play video games.) He was much whinier and adamant about not going today, but he missed last week and there's no class next week, so I forced him to go. I have no tolerance for whining. (Really, does anyone?)  He did look a little pale after dance, though, and then he turned down a grilled cheese sandwich. Ozzy turning down fried carbs and dairy is just weird, so I should have KNOWN something was up...

DH decided to take us out to one of his old haunts for dinner, so we ended up driving 30 minutes to go to a dive that specializes in souvlaki and fries. (Men!)  I'm not feeling well, which shouldn't surprise anyone after taking care of the bronchio boys for a week. Ozzy was excited, but once we got there, complained incessantly about how cold he was. Of course, he'd worn a t-shirt and a hoodie only - in Ontario in early March - so I chalked this up to being under-dressed in a drafty restaurant. (What is it with grade school boys not wearing jackets? Are parkas in winter "uncool" or something?) He ate about half his dinner.

When we got home, I went up to put my PJs on, because a) I'm not feeling well and b) I love PJs. When I came down a few minutes later, Ozzy was passed out on the couch.


I let him sleep for an hour so, but when stirred an woke up for a minute, I took his temp. 101.3.

Again, uh-oh.

I'll be watching this kid VERY closely tomorrow. The last time (2 times?) he had pneumonia, I'm pretty sure this is how it went down. He got sick, he got better for a day or so, then he took a nosedive.

If he's running a fever tomorrow morning, we're going STRAIGHT to the clinic.

In fact, I'm gonna run upstairs right now and count his breaths...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Meet GeckoCap, The Newest, Coolest Tool for Asthma Compliance

Last month, the folks at GeckoCap contacted me in response to my post about how to get your kid to actually take their maintenance meds.  I went to their site to see what the heck a GeckoCap was,  and was actually pretty blown away. This product is SUPER-COOL, and I'm pretty sure it will work.

Rather than explain it, I interviewed GeckoCap's Founder and CTO, Mark Maalouf. Here's what he told me:

1.     What is the Gecko Cap and who will it help?

GeckoCap is a small, glowing device that fits on top of inhalers. First, it helps children with asthma develop proper habits. Children often forget to take their maintenance inhalers as prescribed [REALLY?], and with time this often leads to more usage of the rescue inhaler, missed activities with friends, and perhaps even missed school days. The GeckoCap glows as a reminder when the inhaler should be used based on the prescription, and every time it is used the information is sent to an online account. Children have their own dashboard where they can keep track of how well they’re doing - see the next question for more on this!

GeckoCap helps parents too. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s very difficult to keep track of if and when your child is taking their medication. It’s even more difficult when they’re bouncing around between school, visiting friends, on field trips, or between two homes. Parents have their own dashboards where they can track how well their child is doing. They also get reminders/notifications for things like a prescription running low as well as alerts when the rescue inhaler is used. These alerts prompt the parents for the reason behind the rescue inhaler usage (sports, weather …) so you can finally get real data to look for trends. Parents can also easily see the history and create reports. How often do you go to your child’s physician and can’t comfortably answer the question about their inhaler compliance?

2.     Explain the whole gamification thing to me.

We are working with child psychologists to figure out how to really change behavior for the better. For the younger children, this includes their very own dashboard with a cute avatar that changes moods based on how well they’re doing. Children also get rewarded with points and badges for things like taking their maintenance inhaler properly several days in a row. Parents get points too for things like entering the trigger for the rescue inhaler usage, and they can assign these points to their child. Parents can choose what the points mean in the house (perhaps the child can redeem them for an extra piece of dessert!), but we are also working on some partnerships to redeem points for real things like gifts.

3.     Do I need to get my kid an iPad for this to be successful?

No! Without getting too technical, the cap sends and receives data to a smartphone or tablet which has Bluetooth 4.0 (this includes the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and newer iPad and Android devices). That device then sends the data to the internet.

What this means is that you need at least one device like that in the home for the GeckoCap to work, but it does not have to be with your child. If they are at school all day and use the cap, the data will automatically be sync’d when they get back home and are close enough to your iPad. The only benefit of having your child carry around their own smartphone or tablet is that the updates and notifications will occur more frequently, rather than when your child gets back home.

4.     Does it work with all MDIs?

That’s the plan! We are working with industrial designers right now to finalize the version that will be sold, and one of the most important design goals is for the GeckoCap to fit on all MDIs. We’re tinkering with a couple of ways to do this best.

5.     Where can I get one and how much will it cost?

Glad you asked, because we just launched a campaign to pre-sell GeckoCap. We’re aiming for it to be available in September, and for a limited time you can pre-purchase one for $39. That campaign site has a lot more information too, please check it out!

6.     One last question: Why did you decide to create this thing? What's the back story?

To make a long story short, the team and concept behind GeckoCap were formed at a healthcare-related competition at MIT in 2012. One of the founders has a young child with asthma and another is a physician, so GeckoCap grew naturally out of that partnership. Among several other features, the original concept tested peak flow, provided a GPS tracking system to alert users of high risk locations, and had a spacer. It ended up winning first prize at the competition, and since then the concept was refined and simplified from a jack-of-all-trades product to a simpler and more consumer-friendly one.

I'm very excited about the GeckoCap, and definitely plan to try it out. I'm so glad that someone's thinking creatively about the issues that affect our kids. These are technologies I use frequently in my marketing/PR career....I never thought I'd be using them to manage the kids' asthma! Based on the early buzz GeckoCap is getting and how well it was received at CES this year, I'm thinking this is going to be bigger than musical toothbrushes!