And it’s pretty scary, actually. We had been taking Mr 2 back to the doctor on a seemingly weekly basis. It wasn’t actually weekly, but that’s what it felt like. Constant coughing that turned into wheezing, that sometimes turned into heavy, laboured breathing where his poor little ribs sucked in and out.
It started about September last year. Initially it was croup – meaning a steroid dose was taken. The next month, we were away on the Great Ocean Road for a weekend, and his breathing became wheezy and his ribs were working hard. So we called the Lorne hospital and they recommended we come in. It was a Saturday evening of a long weekend, and we had never needed to take the kids to an emergency department before. And we weren’t in Lorne, we were probably 25 minutes further on the winding ocean road. That had Mr 2 vomiting with car sickness the day before. Awesome.
So we headed in, with Ms 3 happily bunked in with friends in their cabin. I was, of course, completely anxious the whole way there – was he going to spew on the way, was his breathing going to get worse, was Ms 3 ok with us leaving her when it was night and we were in a strange place. Naturally, he didn’t spew, slept the whole way there and Ms 3 had an awesome time with the big girls! When we got to the ED, the staff was great. Saw us straight away and were lovely. They monitored him for a bit, gave him a dose of steroids and diagnosed bronchiolitis. Rest and fluids, and get another course of steroids for him.
Over the months since, we’ve been back to the GP at least five times with similar symptoms – particularly the wheezing and coughing. Each time leaving with redipred and ventolin, and sometimes antibiotics, but no diagnosis. When kids are under two, there is a reluctance to diagnose asthma, mainly because they can ‘grow’ out of it. Their airways are small and more sensitive to inflammation. So they wait a bit and see if the symptoms will ease off. That’s my understanding.
We had started considering going to a different GP, to push for a bit more assessment. He had turned 2 at the start of the year and it was still happening. Around March, he was wheezy AGAIN. Of course it came on later in the day and I only managed to get an appointment at about ten to five and with a different GP. I got in to the clinic, with Ms 3 and Mr 2 managing to climb all over every inch of the waiting room and the GP’s room. They cannot sit still when we are in a GP’s office!
Well, this one was awesome. She read the file, listened to what I was saying and assessed Mr 2’s presentation. “It is asthma” she pronounced and proceeded to instruct me to take him to the local emergency department for assessment. Wait, what? She was concerned that he needed a thorough assessement that she couldn’t do at this stage of the day. He needed to be monitored over a three hour period, to assess his breathing and his response to medication.
So off we went to the local emergency department. The Mister had just got home from work, so he met us there. Luckily, it went fairly well. We didn’t have to wait hours and hours. Saying that, whislt we were waiting, his breathing worsened and we heard that real rattling, whistle type breath for the first time. That wasn’t great.
He was assessed and monitored and sent home with ventolin and spacers and instructions to see the GP, having responded well to the ventolin. And that was how we found out our child has asthma. Since then, we have had an appointment with the nurse at the GP’s to develop an Asthma Management Plan and to learn a little more about asthma. That appointment really bought home to me how serious asthma is. We don’t have it in our family and neither does The Mister. So I’ve never really been exposed to it. The nurse made it clear that it can and does kill children when not managed properly. Scared the bejeesus out of me. So now he is on preventer medication, morning and night, with the plan to reassess once we are through winter. For Mr 2, coughs and colds appear to be a trigger, so winter can be a difficult period. And we carry ventolin, spacer and mask with us all the time, in case an attack flares up.
Luckily, the younger kids are when they’re first diagnosed, the more likely they seem to grow out of it. Fingers crossed that happens for us too. He’s been travelling well so far through winter, with only a few episodes of needing ventolin, usually when he has had a particularly severe cold/cough.
Did you know there is an Asthma First Aid Plan? I didn’t, I had no idea. Click through if you are interested in knowing more about it. It’s simple and straight forward, and good to know if you’re with someone who appears to be having an attack.
How about you? Do you or your child have asthma? Was it a surprise, or does it run in your family? Let me know, I’d be keen to hear (read!) your experience.
Here are some more links you may find useful:
- The Asthma Buddy App – great for slightly older kids learning to manage their asthma.
- The National Asthma Council Australia – lots of information for those with asthma, or caring for someone with asthma, for professionals and for media.
- Asthma Australia – again, has lots of information and links to state/territory specific sites.