Monday, July 22, 2013

// curing asthma

Let’s start at the very beginning.
Winter of 2011/2012 (I can’t recall what month but I know it was cold out)
Jake developed what was diagnosed as a slight case of bronchitis.
I wasn’t concerned. It was cold and illnesses like bronchitis are common in the cold.
Armed with a nebulizer and a prescription for albuterol,
I left the doctor satisfied that a cure was in sight for my son’s bad cough… 
and it was.
After a week or so of daily nebulizer treatments, he was fine.
I put the situation behind me and we went on with life as normal.

Until a year later when Jake started having coughing 
and wheezing episodes that were later diagnosed as asthma attacks.

One, I think it was the first one, almost landed him in the hospital.
Another happened while we were in Costa Rica 
and it was one of the scariest things I’ve had to face with him since we were in another country.

Since Christmastime, Jake has had almost 10 attacks, been on three rounds of oral steroids, 
and had daily nebulized steroid treatments to “strengthen his lungs” and prevent future attacks.

But he has kept on having attacks.
They severity of his asthma attacks range from ones when he has a hole in his neck 
every time he tries to take a breath and his chest caves in and he can barely take a breath. 
To others when he only has difficulty breathing, and others still when he has minimal wheezing 
that only I can hear when I put my ear to his chest. A trained ear, I suppose.

They are all frightening on different levels because asthma compromises your ability to breathe. 
And you need to breathe. Duh.

They are painful, not only for Jake who has said to me “Mommy it hurts” holding on to his chest, 
but for me because all I want to do is take a deep breathe and give him all my oxygen. 
There has been nothing more frustrating for me as a mother than to watch my son struggle to breathe.

Phil and I have spent many nights lying next to Jake, listening to every breath, 
tearing up every time he coughs, praying over him that his lungs would just expand and let the oxygen in. 
Running to the 24-hour pharmacy. 
Hearing the roar of the nebulizer, which has been music to our ears at times 
because it finally brings relief. Literally, a deep breath.

It sounds dramatic but it’s how I feel when Jake has asthma attacks.

The experience I’m sure differs from my husband’s 
but I know even he has struggled to watch Jake suffer. 
The thing about asthma is that sometimes you can’t do anything about it until a pharmacy opens 
or you can get to a doctor… and even when you are armed with a nebulizer and albuterol in hand, 
all you can do is wait for the breaths to get deeper and deeper until they are normal again.

He has been to the doctor numerous times. Nebulized steroids are what they’ve prescribed. 
Many times increased or changed the dosage, either claiming it will work 
or telling me that asthma is just something we’ll have to live with in hopes that one day he’ll grow out of it.

Frustrated I brought him to an allergist who told me he is only allergic to cats 
(which we have none of). She was hesitant to fill my request to test him for food allergies. 
“Bring him back when he’s four for more testing.” 
Until then, nebulizer, nebulizer, nebulizer, steroids, steroids, steroids.

Finally I gave in a few weeks ago. 
We brought him to a chiropractor whom tests for food sensitivity. A holistic doctor of sorts.

Take him off of dairy for two weeks, she told me.
Um. OK.
I was skeptical and hesitant.

I’ve learned a lot about food sensitivities through Phil’s sister 
because for years she has trusted in this chiropractor but it didn’t prepare me for being in that office.

Either way, I decided to go with it. Stopped giving him cheese, yogurt, sour cream, milk.
Basically, eliminated one of his food groups.
It was fairly easy. I think he’s still at an age when he doesn’t remember to ask. 
So he barely requested those things.

He was dairy free for three weeks and I didn’t see a clear difference 
so I expected the doctor to tell us he could have dairy again.
The day before his doctor’s appointment, someone babysat him 
and I forgot to tell her about the cheese so she served him a little bit for lunch.

That night he started wheezing.
I know. Crazy, right?

It confirmed that dairy affected him.

The next day, the doctor tested him for sensitivity to samples I brought of food he eats at home.

Wheat. Sensitive. Dairy. Sensitive. Sugar. Sensitive.
She said to eliminate all of it for six months.

Six months.
I took the news in. Couldn’t process it. What would I cook? What would I buy?
What about his birthday? Phil’s birthday? Siena’s birthday? My birthday?
Thanksgiving? Christmas? Vacation?

I was in shock. Phil was less than excited.

I considered labeling the sensitivities as hockus pockus and ditching the whole thing 
but I couldn’t ignore the information I had now.

Like imagine someone telling you: “If you eat this, your arm will fall off.” 
Would you eat it? No right?
So now we’re all on board with Jake’s diet in hopes that he’ll stop coughing all the time 
and wheezing and having full blown attacks. 
We hope to clean his little system out and introduce some things in six months.

This diet is super difficult. We read labels like it's our job. Spend twice the amount of time at the supermarket for an ordinary shopping trip. Spend twice the amount of money on fruits and vegetables. 
Every day we find out random things have wheat or milk in them. 
Like- coffee. Did you know it has gluten in it sometimes??
Sugar is the worst because it's in every ding dang thing. 

We're getting better which is a good thing because 
even when Jake can have pasta, and cookies, and ice cream again, 
I don’t think our diet will ever be the same. 
Which makes me almost cry because I miss cookies and baguettes.

For now, I’ll be blogging about this little journey that we’re taking 
to cure asthma using totally unconventional methods. . 

After thought note: Jake has also had eczema from the time he was a baby. Eczema and asthma often occur together. This diet should also help heal his skin. Hopefully.

1 comment:

Pneumadeux said...

Hey there.

I found your post after searching for "curing winter asthma."

My wife suffers from asthma. In the winter months, life's pretty tough. Cool, damp days? Ditto. We believe it was mold-induced, years ago... adult onset stuff.

I work in the so-called "healthcare marketing" industry. As such, I never go to the doctor. I know too much about why it's so expensive and why it rarely "works."

Additionally, I adopted a paleo diet about a month ago, as a way to supplement my competitive cycling efforts. I've run into a number of testimonies about people who have seen various maladies "go away" as a result of adopting this diet.

I'll be watching your progress in caring for your little guy with great interest.

Thanks for telling the story.


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