Since the day we met Noah, everyday has been an adventure with him. Days have been filled with ups and downs, learning, growing, adapting. One of the biggest struggles we have had is his health. We had quite a “welcome to parenting” when he first came home. Now, at last, we know what we’re dealing with, and are able to treat him accordingly.
But let’s go back to the beginning. From the day we met him, his chest was very noisy. By that I mean, it sounded very phlegmy – almost like it was crackling with every breathe he took. And when you held him, you could feel he was breathing very deeply. In all our inexperience with babies, we put it down to sickness related to teething. He was after all 7 months, drooling everywhere and putting everything in his mouth. But as the days went on, those close to us who were parents recommended we get him to a GP, as his chest was just sounding awful. The baby home he was at referred us to the most amazing GP, who has specialized in paediatrics, and who also saw all the baby’s from the baby home.
The appointment was made for 11 days after we met him. We took him to his appointment, as 2 very nervous, apprehensive new parents. In this appointment he was diagnosed with bronchiolitis, and more than likely needed to be hospitalized. As far as I can understand, bronchiolitis is a strand of the RSV virus (please correct me if I am wrong), and is highly contagious amongst children under 5 years old. Bearing in mind, he was still at the baby home, as we were waiting for the necessary documents to come through so that we could bring him home. Our extended family has dealt with RSV before, so Jason and I were fully aware of the seriousness of it all. With Noah being diagnosed with bronchiolitis, we had to get an emergency leave of absence from the baby home, so that no other child would catch it. This came through, and that very night, he slept in his cot for the first time. We knew and understood how sick he was, but were so relieved to have him home.
Remember the bit about maybe needing to be hospitalized? That. It was very likely that he needed hospital care. However, he was not on our medical aid, and we simply did not have the necessary funds to pay for a private hospital, out of our pockets. Thankfully, our amazing GP had a contact at Addington Hospital (a government hospital here in Durban), who would be able to help us out with a hospital bed, if need be.
After chatting with our GP, it was decided that we would try and treat him at home, with all the necessary pumps, spacers, nose sprays etc. This was only on the condition that we took him to our GP every morning at 7:45am, so that she could check his progress, at no extra charge to us. Have I mentioned yet, just how amazing she is?! That first night, Jason and I never got much sleep. It was a mix between excitement about having our baby home at last, mixed with nerves and worry about how sick he was, and making sure he was breathing every 5 minutes! Ah, the life of new parents! The next morning we were at the doctors rooms bright and early. She checked Noah, and was happy with how he was doing. He was definitely doing better than the day before. Off we went, continuing with all the medication, and scheduled for our next check up the following morning.
The following morning, though, when Noah woke up, I could tell he wasn’t better than the day before. In fact, I felt like he was a little worse. Cue the extra worries. I took him for his check up, and our GP was also not too happy with the way his chest was sounding. After much deliberation, and getting another GP to have a look at him, it was decided that he needed to be hospitalized. I remember that day vividly. It took most of the day just to get him admitted. The most traumatic part of that day was watching the doctors trying to get a drip in my baby. Hearing him cry like that, and not being able to hold him was excruciating.
Being admitted to hospital is a stressful thing. It is even more stressful, when it is your new baby that needs to be admitted. After 4 days of nebulizing, Noah pulling out his drip (which was in his head – the only place they could find a vein) and having it put in again (on the other side of his head), lots of tears and sleepless nights for mom, we were finally discharged. Noah was better and we could begin adjusting to life as a family of 3, at home!
Things were alright for quite a few months. Noah’s chest was clear. We didn’t need to pump him. Things seemed good. And then March came around, and we had his first birthday party on the first weekend in March. And on the morning of his party, his chest was all crackly and noisy. We spent the weekend pumping him, praying it was not bronchiolitis. By the following Monday afternoon, his chest was so bad, we had to make a doctors appointment. And the doctor confirmed it was bronchiolitis again. We spent about a week pumping him every 3 hours (right through the night – I feel like we got an idea of what it must be like to have a newborn). It was exhausting, and he fought us every time it was time to be pumped. But it was worth it, as he didn’t have to go to hospital. We were able to treat him at home this time.
He got better, and life carried on. However, in April he got bronchiolitis again. And in May and June he got bronchopneumonia. That’s 4 consecutive months of having a very sick little boy. After getting sick in June again, we decided to do a barrage of tests, to see why he was getting so sick every month. After all the tests were done, it was concluded that he has absolutely no allergies. But his immune system and influenza antibodies were quite low. We were referred to a paediatrician, and after we gave him a brief rundown of Noah’s history, and he examined Noah, he concluded that it is more than likely that those first cases of bronchiolitis were brought on by asthma attacks. Yes, Noah is still quite young, and we don’t know the medical history of his birth parents. But based on the frequency that he kept getting bronchiolitis, the paediatrician was pretty confident he has asthma.
We now have him on the right meds – a new pump twice a day, and nose spray and an antihistamine to be given to him daily. We have him on a multivitamin as well, doctor approved of course! With him being in school now, the paediatrician warned us that he would be sick more often than most children. But as long as we give him his medicine everyday, and keep up with the multivitamin, it will all be manageable.
There has been such a change in him, since the asthma was diagnosed, and he is on the right meds. While he constantly has a runny nose, at least now he is not getting so very sick every month. He can now be a real little boy, exploring, learning and growing, as he plays with his friends, climbs the jungle gym, and enjoys school. It is such a relief to just know what the problem is, and to be treating it accordingly.
Do you have any tips for dealing with asthma with a toddler? Dietary or otherwise, I would really appreciate it!