Saturday, March 15, 2014

Health Update

I wrote about some of the stuff LB is up to last week, but I forgot to mention the thing that has been the biggest positive for our quality of life.  (Knock wood) LB has been remarkably healthy this winter!  She's had a few little sickness, but nothing scary, no extra doctor visits, no middle of the night nebs, no holding a congested child upright all night.

Last winter LB had a mild bout of pneumonia (very scary for me), pink eye, months with a green runny noses, and various viral miseries.  And that was better than the previous winter that involved wheezing, low o2 sats, ear infections, sinuses infections, and a fever of 105.  The fever happened while I was teaching, B handled it really well, and by the time I got home LB was down to a respectable 102.  That was also the winter that LB's ped called on Christmas morning to check up on her because she was so sickly.  That was the winter that we tried desperately to force a small child to swallow an oral steroid that tasted like dirty pennies (yes, I tried it).

I'm so thankful for that first ped, a gentleman who had practiced for close to 40 years.  I feel like he single handedly  kept us out of the hospital that first winter by checking in with us twice a day when LB was really sick, and giving us very detailed information about the symptoms that translate into "go to the hospital now."  I like our current ped, but she's in the "if your concerned, go to the ER" camp, rather than "let's run through all the symptoms, do a neb, and I'll call back in an hour and check on you" camp. 

Both of those winters required a minimum of an hour of nebulizer treatments, often with a thrashing rabid badger of a child.  The helpful advice from everyone was "just let her watch tv," but at that point in life, LB had no interest in screens.  We got our best results doing the nebs when she was asleep, but I could never drag myself out of bed to do one before she woke up in the morning.  Both of those winters involved anxious listening to interpret the exact character of LB's crackling, wheezing, and gasping.

During those winters, LB always lost her appetite and lost weight.  After LB was born it took a number of months for her to be plottable even on the premature and low-birth weight baby chart.  She has always been small, but in the winter she would dip off the normal weight chart into some nether reaches of the 1st percentile.  I don't think being small is necessarily a problem, but I do have some random folk belief that a little fat reserve helps a kid have energy and immunity.  This winter, almost no sickness has meant no weight loss, and LB seems sturdier, more energetic, and happier (and less whiny).

This winter we switched from the neb to an inhaler with spacer, and it is amazing!  I really wish we had tried it last winter.  I've heard that the neb can be more effective at delivering meds to the lungs, but given the amount of neb time when LB was out of range, I think the inhaler is much more effective for her.  We do a maintenance dose of Pulmacort 2x a day, along with a nasal spray 1x a day, and we have albuterol for times when she sounds crackly, but we rarely need to use it.

A healthy LB also has the benefit of a healthy me.  I guess I had undiagnosed asthma as a kid.  There are a bunch of asthmatics in my dad's family and we all seem to get worse as we age.  Every virus I get seems to settle in my lungs and leave me coughing and wheezing long after everyone else has recovered.  And I never go to the doctor, much to B's chagrin.  Last winter, when LB got pneumonia, I was afraid I also had it, and spent a week extreme commuting while feeling like there was an elephant sitting on my chest.

She's done so well this winter, I guess the next question will be whether she need to continue using maintenance meds every winter.  Our doctors have told us that preemies often grow out of their lungs issues by age three, but that will be a scary step.


  1. Oh my goodness, the nebulizer! Although he is otherwise healthy, my Gus had to have nebulizer treatments a handful of times when he was a toddler. His colds would go straight to his lungs.

    I still shudder to think about having to basically pin him close to me with one arm and hold the mask to his face as he writhed. The WORST! Although after doing that twice, he did resign himself to it. And I was able to get him to just watch tv calmly and let me do it.

    I hope your daughter will continue to be well!

  2. I think the neb is easier when they are actually sick because they have less fight.
    Thank you, it would be amazing if she could have a no-meds winter!

    You would think that after twice a day everyday for months without exception, a child would realize that resistance is futile, but she never did. And, even though I had the clear weight and strength advantage, it's such a delicate process-there were a few times when I was scare that I would end up actually hurting her by holding her down.