As I listened to Kyle cough away last night – counting the time between coughs – I had to reflect on the fact that even with all the experience we have with dealing with Asthma emergencies with children, it’s never cut-and-dried. The 9 years we lived through emergencies with Melyssa were nowhere near as critical and panic-inducing as the 7 years with Kyle (although there was definitely that ONE night where the 9-1-1 ambulances arrived at the nick of time) and taken together, there are a heck of a lot of stories there.
The truth, then, is that what I tried to summarize back in this story (http://cowbird.com/story/21903/The_Fear_Of_Coughing/) on Cowbird still holds true. The moment Kyle starts coughing and it sounds different than a regular cough, our “antennae” goes up and our sense of hearing becomes more acute.
Every situation is either slightly different, requiring a minor approach tweak, or different enough to revisit all past situations to come up with the best solution. Last night felt exactly like that. Here he was, coughing away at a regular enough interval to be concerning, but not wheezing or rasping, or anything that we’re used to seeing when he’s in a “usual” crisis.
For example, there have been incidents where he’s letting out a cough every minute (when he’s gone to bed/ attempting to sleep), and after a few minutes it’ll start to stretch out. A cough every 5 minutes. Then, 7… 10… 20… and eventually asleep. For him to be consistent at every 4 minutes or so was peculiar. He has been fighting a bit of a cold, which never helps, especially when you consider he’s prone to viral-induced asthma attacks.
At one point I had to look at my wife and basically ask what the hell was going on with my internal turmoil. We’ve been fighting asthma attacks for 16 years now (not counting my wife’s own personal issues when she was younger). We’ve got so many varied experiences with asthma from allergy-induced, to various medications, to “homegrown” techniques to get out of crisis, etc. We’re Asthma Ambassadors for Asthma Canada and part of the National Asthma Patient Alliance (NAPA) supported by Asthma Canada. Heck, she’s on the Board of Directors as well!
…And yet when that coughing begins it’s like a Primal instinct to want to do the right thing without overreacting and trying to come to the best solution (which doesn’t always involve spending 3 to 8 hours in the asthma ward hoping to not catch anything else especially during high flu season).
I guess, in a way, the battle will always continue. After all, as it has been often stated, Asthma can only be controlled and cannot be cured (at least at the moment). You know, I just realized something else – something that does make us valuable NAPA members. This feeling of fear (or maybe controlled fear) that we still go through with when it comes to our children? It doesn’t go away. So when it comes to speaking with other families trying to handle the stress of asthma issues, we can definitely relate with them. And the sharing of these events always helps everyone to remember that they’re not alone and that help does exist.
Every crisis is like a mini-badge (or scar!) that we have to wear and carry with us as we walk through our lives.
After Kyle finally fell asleep, my brain continued to go through scenarios, almost refusing to settle down enough for me to sleep. Eventually I did, and the first instinct I had when I awoke this morning was to strain my ears to ensure he wasn’t coughing. The silence was both deafening and frightening. After a couple of hours he woke up and came down for breakfast. He still has his cough, but it’s nothing like yesterday. Regular doses of his inhaler along with rest and keeping his nose “empty” have been very beneficial. His afternoon nap was also restful.
So, we continue with our treatment as per our Asthma Action Plan, and add some “cold fighting” elements to it as well (like ensuring he gets plenty of Vitamin C) and continue to keep an “ear” out on him. Winters are tough, and with the temperature drop of 2 nights ago (going from 4 degrees Celsius to -15 degrees Celsius) we were already on guard. But never “on guard” enough to take things fully in stride.
Here’s hoping it clears up completely by tonight/ tomorrow morning…