Monday, January 14, 2008

David Health Update

This past Thursday David met with his new Asthma and Allergy doctor. We were pleased with his new doctor. We choose him because he specialized in both allergies and asthma. We learned a great deal at the appointment.

Asthma: The doctor determined that we needed to have a nebulizer (medical device that delivers liquid medication in the form of a mist to the airways) at home. Not only did David’s doctor suggest that we have one, he suggested that we be more proactive about his asthma treatments. Instead of simply treating attacks when they occur, he put David on a daily treatment plan. Each day, David has a nebulizer treatment. We also have medication for when an attack occurs. Part of the reason that David needs a more aggressive treatment is that he has allergies that trigger his asthma.
Allergies: The doctor did a skin allergy test. This test requires that tiny drops of purified allergen extracts are pricked or scratched into the skin's surface. This test was not fun for David. After the first skin prick, David was screaming as loud as he could. He was not still, either. Seth had to hold him very tightly. He was tested for allergies to pollen, trees, mold, grass, dust mites, weeds, animal dander from cats and dogs and peanuts. The pricks were done and we were told it would take about 15 minutes for a reaction to show up. The nurse left the room. About 1 minute later, David started crying saying his arm hurt. He was saying, “It huuurrrts. It HURTS!! It hurts RIGHT HERE.” He was pointing and tapping the pinprick right next the “P”. There wasn’t a visible reaction yet but he was clearly in pain from the Peanut test. He started really crying so we went to the get the doctor. By the time the doctor came in a couple of minutes later, the peanut test was red and swollen. He said that there was no doubt he was still allergic to peanuts. (He had talked to us before the test about how there was still a possibility David could outgrow the allergy.) It was heartbreaking to see David's reaction. Even after putting some medicinal cream on the spot, David kept saying his arm hurt for quite some time. The test also showed that David has other allergies that we were not aware of. He is allergic to grass. He is also allergic to animal dander from both cats and dogs. I had an epiphany of sorts. It was an “ah ha” moment for me. I knew that at times when David was around cats or dogs, he would have an asthma attack. This had happened a few times as friends' houses. I had decided that some cats and dogs must trigger his asthma. I had not considered that he might be allergic to cats and dogs. This revelation saddened Seth and I. Immediately, though we hadn’t discussed it, we were both wondering about George and Bailey (our sweet 12 year old dogs). The doctor said that he was not going to recommend that we get rid of our dogs. He did make some other recommendations that include: Regular dog grooming, weekly dog baths, keeping the dogs out of David’s room (that was easy because the dogs just don’t ever go in there), weekly washing of sheets, and very frequent vacuuming. Back to the grass allergy—this is one explanation for why playing actively outside exhausts David so quickly. (Of course, physical exertion wasn’t ruled out as an asthma trigger, either.) We were alarmed to find out that David is allergic to grass. It just so happens that the area we live in is known for its grass seed production. There are grass seed farms everywhere in this area. We live in the Willamette Valley and I think this quote from an Oregon Grass Seed website says it all: “Grass seed production is one of the state’s leading agricultural crops, it ranked 3 rd in Oregon’s Top 40 Commodities of 2006. Over half of the Willamette Valley is sown to forage seed.” The doctor told us that the grass season could be really hard on David but we have nothing to worry about because we will get him set up with what he needs before the peak season. (That didn’t really put my mind to ease but I am thankful that we found out about the allergy before “grass seed season.")

It amazes me how David takes all of this in stride. Yesterday at church, there were snacks afterward. He ate his fruit, cheese and crackers, without complaining that both of his brothers got to eat cookies from the cookie tray. (I ended up making some chocolate chip cookies at home.) He has taken to the nebulizer really well. David really likes that it came with a cool fish mask. In all honesty, I think he realizes that it is helping him. And, it seems that he is sleeping so much better. Normally he frequently coughs night. He has been sleeping so soundly the last few days.


Emily Anne said...

Oh Jane Anne my heart goes out to you. Since I am a mom I know how hard this must be. I can only imagine how it must always be in the forefront of your mind; always making sure David doesn't come in contact with something he shouldn't. David is such a champ about it! I will pray that he will out grow some of these allergies, especially the peanute one. There is still the possiblity right?
Lots of love, ~Shirley Casey

John & Carrie said...

Jane Anne, My heart goes out to you and your family as well. Thank you for sharing everything. That had to be hard to watch him go through that painful test....and getting a longer list of what to avoid/precautions to take. But at least you have more information to help him. You and Seth are great parents raising wonderful children!
love, Carrie

Melissa Guay said...

Wow, what a trooper he is. I can't imagine the challenges of the allergies, especially as it's life-threatening. I'm sure God provides you with that continuous strength as we know we can't do it ourselves.

Amy said...

I am so glad that you found a good doctor who is willing to work with your family with David's best interest in mind. I remember babysitting a little boy that needed nebulizer treatments daily. They helped him a lot with his allergies and asthma. I pray they do the same for David. BTW, the fish mask is the coolest! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey JA! Tell David I love his fish mask, let him know Camden has a dinosaur one. :) I am so thankful you found a knowledgable doctor. I'm sure the meds routine will be so helpful in your family-it sure made our hospital visits and stays decrease in that season of our life. I pray for you too, that it is just a season and that David quickly outgrows it! Much love, LaMonica