Strangely, I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about Eva’s asthma. Her allergy issues come up a lot more often, particularly when it comes to food, because her reactions are so severe and food is so absolutely-everywhere-we-go. The asthma thing is always a secondary thought. We carry her medications and give her daily steroids, but if you ask me what her biggest health hurdle is I think allergies always come to mind first.
Right now, thinking about that, I think I might have it backward.
We had an epically rotten weekend. Some kind of virus tore through the house and put Eva out of commission starting Thursday night and then led to me being sick out of mind from Friday through Sunday. We’re starting to recover, but Eva still has a low-ish fever (101 degrees) and this pesky little cough that she had has now turn into a gross drowning-sound cough that is a classic precursor for something that might turn into asthma. If you want to know what I mean, listen for it in this video:
I sat up with her for most of the night last night to see if she was going to go into a full blown asthma attack. She didn’t, but it’s amazing how much she doesn’t sleep when she’s like this. About every five minutes she’d cough and turn over…all night. I watched her from about 10 PM to 6 AM when I went to sleep myself and I don’t think I saw her sleep for a consecutive ten minutes.
Nighttime (nocturnal) asthma is something you don’t hear much about but it’s a big deal for kids. Tons of asthma kids miss school because they spent the night having a hard time breathing and being tired makes it harder for them to get past an illness that could be causing the asthma. Plus, there’s an emotional toll to asthma (the stress of not being able to breathe can actually trigger a cycle which keeps the asthma on constant flare-up mode) and exhaustion doesn’t make that any easier to deal with, either for the kids or for the parents.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re in the clear, but outside of hoping that she outgrows this crummy disease we don’t have any full relief in her future. There aren’t as many treatments promising an asthma cure as there are treatments promising an allergy cure (not that Eva is eligible for any of those yet) so we just have to teach her how to take care of herself, watch for symptoms, and occasionally stay up all night watching her sleep.
One final thought: I hate how often kids with inhalers are used as punchlines in movies. There’s this idea that those kids are weak by choice or because they have overprotective parents…I don’t think it’s deliberate but it isn’t funny, especially for families who have had asthma tragedies totally outside of their control. This month last year, friends of friends back in Ohio lost their six year old boy to an asthma attack moments after her got home from Kindergarten. Everyone did all the right things, but something invisible happened and his lungs stopped and that was that.
I thought about Xander a lot last night when I was getting tired of listening for the sounds of not-breathing from Eva. His story is definitely something I can depend on to keep me up at night.