A Preschool Asthma Attack in Photos and Videos

Posted by Carly Morgan on

We're still processing Eva's recent asthma attack, her hospitalization, and all of the new information we've received about her health. It's incredibly overwhelming, which is strange because her food allergies were also incredibly overwhelming and by now I would have thought we'd be pros at taking things in stride. Apparently, not so much.

I need to sit and write out all of the internal stuff and what all of this means for our family, but I don't even know where to begin with that. That will take more time.

Instead, I'm going to share a video from the attack and linear photos from her hospital visit, mostly because I was looking for this information when I was sitting around Googling "three year old asthma ER???" when I should have been driving her to the ER. I don't know if this will help anyone, but if anything it might be illuminating to see what it looks like when a preschooler is having a severe asthma attack. It's not what I thought it would look like, which is why I didn't recognize it even though she's done this before.

1. Video showing her breathing before I took her in and the changes during the hospital visit. 


2. Eva at home watching movies with her brother before the attack. She was likely symptomatic at this point, but I just thought she was under the weather with her cold.

3. Immediately after we check in to the ER, they give her a heavy dose of albuterol using the nebulizer.

4. After her treatment, we wait for ten minutes to see if her asthma improves.

5. Her oxygen drops. At this point, Eva becomes agitated and starts to cry, which makes breathing more difficult.

6. She gets juice to soothe her and they start her on oxygen.

7. She's not speaking or reacting much. Her pulse ox is still low, even with the extra oxygen.

8. They give her an oral steroid and she falls asleep. More relaxed, she starts to pink up a bit more.

9. She wakes up looking better, but still doesn't want to speak.

10. After some discussion about moving to the ICU, they put her in the medical unit and officially admit her to the hospital. She's been flagged as having an upper respiratory infection, so masks are necessary. Eva gets jealous and demands her own.

11. They put the nebulizer mask on and she does a ten hour breathing treatment. She stays up until almost 2 AM watching Disney movies and then falls asleep in twenty minute increments, waking up every time she tugs on her nebulizer, IV, or pulse ox monitor. At 4 AM she becomes so upset the nurse comes in to help me restrain her so she doesn't yank the IV out. They offer to put her out, but instead I sing to her until the sun comes up and she finally stays asleep.

12. She's calm when she wakes up, but she's hungry. They haven't let her have anything but juice in the last 16 hours, but she can't even have water with her treatment. I distract her with more Disney movies.

13. Eventually she won't be distracted and cries because she wants breakfast. The crying makes the breathing harder, so they won't take the mask off and let her eat until she stops crying. This cycle lasts for about an hour.

14. Kyle and I switch off and not long after he takes over, they take off the mask and let her eat. She receives short albuterol treatments throughout the day and each treatment makes her hyper. After unhooking the IV she's allowed to move around the room in the hopes that it will make her coughs more productive.

15. She's exhausted, but too hopped up on meds to sleep. She finally falls asleep a little at 4 PM, mid-sentence while asking me something about Queen Elsa.

16. I bring Calvin to the hospital a little after 9 PM with some McDonald's and we let them hang out in the bed together. Eva has been on room air with the albuterol treatments moving farther apart. Her oxygen is steady and everyone is optimistic that she can be released soon.

17. They release Eva from the hospital around 1 AM and the four of us go home. She has to go to the pediatric clinic in the morning to check in and she'll be on steroids for a few days. She also starts a new asthma medication that she'll take daily from now on. We make more appointments with her allergist and with our pediatrician to discuss an emergency plan, lung scarring, and possibly seeing a pulmonary specialist. We're warned that she needs to take it very easy and avoid triggers for the next week or she'll bounce back.

18. (Not pictured.) We leave the hospital and I take the kids to the grocery store because our fridge is empty. As we leave the store, I realize that a man is standing outside the store smoking a cigarette not far from our van. I throw the kids and the groceries into the car as quickly as I can, abandoning the cart in the middle of the lot, but both kids start coughing before I pull out. This two minute drive is actually the only time I cry during this whole thing and I pull it together before we get home.