Last week my son got a cold. For a parent of a child with asthma, a cold is no small thing…especially during a summer time-off from preventative meds (It is a common practice to give an asthmatic child’s body a break from his or her daily meds during the Summer months, when there are less respiratory viruses floating around) Here’s the bullet-points of our last week or so:
on 7/29 or 7/30 he developed a high fever, with no other symptoms whatsoever. This fever lasted through the end of that week.
On about 8/5 He started sneezing and coughing a bit…as per the pulmonologist’s previous orders, I immediately began to give him his Albuterol inhaler, his relief medication, but did not yet start him on Flovent, his preventative medication.
By 8/7 the coughing and sneezing had escalated and he had started retracting (you could see his ribs, stomach and chest going in and out rapidly as he struggled to breath normally). With the OK of the pediatrician, I began him on Flovent and made an appointment for that morning.
At the doctor’s office, Ian was diagnosed with an ear infection (possibly the cause for the fever the week before, even though he had had no symptoms at all!) Ian then received back-to-back Albuterol doses through a nebulizer (a machine with a mask that turns the liquid medicine into a vapor that can be easily inhaled through a mask or tube, even if the patient is unable to take the deep breaths necessary to use an inhaler or an inhaler with a spacer.) We were sent home with prescriptions for antibiotics for the ear infections, oral Prednisone and Albuterol (the last to administer in our home nebulizer every 3-4 hours.) A few hours later, in spite of all the meds, kiddo’s breathing still wasn’t great–I called the pediatrician and took Ian to the Pediatric Emergency Room.
For those who don’t know what to expect from a pediatric emergency room, expect a long-ish wait for triage and then, if you’re there for a breathing related issue, to be ushered into a the ‘asthma room’–which is basically a small room with toys for kids and lots of oxygen hook-ups on the wall for inhaled medicine and masks and such. The doctors then administer breathing treatments as often as they deem necessary–and if more than one every 4 hours continues to be necessary, the child is admitted to the hospital. Some uncertainty, much waiting, and little sleep…but some comfort in the fact that doctors and nurses are doing a whole lot of medical monitoring that can’t be done at home.
I recommend staying on top of everything that the doctors do (without being too annoying)–it is in your child’s best interest for you to know everything about every treatment that anyone wants to administer AND it is totally within your rights to make the doctors at the hospital check with your personal doctors before they go through with something that you don’t fully understand. Also, don’t push too hard for your child to go home before they are totally out of the woods–as unpleasant at spending the night is, having to start the whole process because you need to come back again after a breathing episode a few hours later would be way worse.
To make a terribly long story slightly shorter, my son and I spent the night in the hospital (they wouldn’t let both parents spend the night, so my husband went home at 3am.) He refused to sleep in the cage-like hospital crib, so he slept in my arms on the fold out chair/cot that was there for me to sleep on. He was sent home the next afternoon with better breathing and much less retraction…and a whole battery of meds. We’ll be seeing the pediatrician later this week and the pulmonologist in a week or two. We’re spacing his Albuterol treatments further apart as he improves and, hopefully, soon, he won’t need them at all.
Until further notice, my house is a hotbed of Albuterol induced hyperactivity and jumping…but we’re all breathing much easier.