Category Archives: nebulizer

In A Cough I Hear The Worst

Nora is coughing. It has been almost five whole months since we endured our last around the clock albuterol treatments, vomit-inducing coughing fits, and never-ending trips to the doctor. I even made the mistake of saying out loud to Nora last night that we were going to stop doing her mask (the pulmicort we’ve been on since November) this week as she winds down her time at daycare and enters her “healthy” time of year.

And today she is coughing.

She coughs and I hear pneumonia.

She coughs and I take a mental note of where her barf bowl is.

She coughs and I hold the mask a little tighter to her face.

She coughs and I wonder how long it will be until we are at the doctor’s office again,filling more prescriptions, hoping it doesn’t last and last like it always does.

She coughs and either Ken or I or both of us say, “Oh, Nora.”

She coughs and it is me who feels a little stabbing pain in my heart.


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Filed under nebulizer, pneumonia, pulmicort, routine with toddler, toddler with asthma

The Nebulizer Dance

Since Thanksgiving we’ve been sitting on the couch with Nora, holding her nebulizer mask to her face, once or twice a day. As part of the ritual we watch Youtube videos – entertaining our toddler as she sits and breathes in her precious pulmicort. Not only has this made Nora a healthy child for a record four months, but it has also taught her about the finer parts of our culture, as defined by Youtube.

We’ve watched countless Sesame Street clips, from Elmo’s Song to Regae Rubber Ducky. We’ve discovered a series called Wheels on the Bus featuring the lead singer from The Who as a bus-driving dragon. We’ve watched clips from Tinkerbell movies, prompting Nora’s love of fairies. And, more recently, we’ve discovered a Pepsi commercial from the ’80s featuring Michael Jackson, Nora’s favorite singer (probably due to her early introduction to his crazy music).

After we finish sitting for ten minutes with the mask firmly planted against Nora’s face, she has taken to watching an extra video while I clean it out. Apparently, not only has the nebulizer made her healthier, it has made her a dancer too. Tonight I left the mask dirty on the counter since I could not resist filming her doing a crazy dance to the Pepsi commercial.


Filed under bedtime routine, nebulizer, pulmicort, routine with toddler, Sesame Street, toddler with asthma


On the list of my most traumatizing days as a parent, today has to be number one. And on the list of traumatized family members, Ken wins top spot, with me second and Nora – even though she was the one to whom the trauma occurred – ranks a distant third. And I guess that’s a good thing.

Despite having a relatively cranky morning and a different routine due to daycare closure for staff development, it seemed like a boring and normal Monday. That all changed when I got a text from Ken during a very serious meeting at school.

I could hear those capital letters screaming at me over the phone, so I ran into the hallway and called him.

“What is going on?” I asked, listening to Nora screaming in the background.

“Well, she just started choking, and then she was gasping for air. And then she coughed up some mucous and now she is screaming.”

“Is she breathing?”

“Yes. She’s not turning blue. I think she’s breathing.”

He sounded concerned. Ken’s a calm and patient person in almost every situation. If he was shaken by this I knew something had to be wrong.

I flashed back to last night when I had decided to skip a whole day of pulmicort treatments because it was already really late – way past her bedtime for the second night in a row. I immediately thought of asthma, feeling the immediate guilt for skipping that one precious dose. My lack of rational thinking in a moment of panic caused me to immediately conclude that this must be Nora’s first asthma attack.

“Give her albuterol and call the doctor,” I said. Storming back into the meeting I asked for someone to take me right home. Everyone jumped up, either eager to help me get to my needy child or to leave the meeting. I called Ken again and he said she was calming a bit, but I could still hear her, clearly unhappy, crying in the background. This time it was muffled by the albuterol misting out of the nebulizer.

My very calm colleague (who insisted he drive since other not-so-calm-colleagues may have landed me in a ditch in our desperation to reach Nora), talked me through the situation on the long 5 minute drive. We decided that if she was crying that loudly she must be getting enough air. We decided that the choking Ken described wasn’t really consistent with asthma symptoms. We decided that I couldn’t blame myself for the missed pulmicort dose.

About a minute from the house, my phone rang.

“How is she?” I immediately asked.

“Fine now that she coughed out the washer she apparently swallowed.”

No asthma, though maybe the albuterol (which makes Nora cough pretty violently) helped her cough out the nickel size washer that she had somehow swallowed.

I walked in (accompanied by my colleague who probably wanted to make sure everything was fine and that Nora really had recovered as quickly as it seemed and that Ken wasn’t going to spontaneously combust from the stress of the previous 15 minutes), and was relieved to see Nora on her changing table, telling me first off that she had a poop and secondly that she had a hurt throat. Ken wiped his brow of the accumulated sweat and handed her off to me so he could go and fold into the couch and try to recover.

Any parent who has had the same or similar trauma happen to them knows the what-if, could-have, should-have, why-me feelings that lurched in my stomach for the next couple of hours while Nora ran around finding roly polies and building with blocks and eating two cereal bars and a banana. She forgot her trauma quickly while Ken and I relived it numerous times. I had a pretty severe choking paranoia before, watching every bite Nora takes pretty closely, avoiding any food even on the outskirts of the choking hazard list. Now that paranoia apparently needs to focus more on foreign objects, not on the food on her plate.

We tried to explain to Nora that she can’t ever put things in her mouth, that her mouth is for food only. She can repeat that rule. She can tell us she will only eat food. But I’m not sure if she really understands what happened today. I’m not sure if she knows how lucky she is that it went in her food pipe, not her wind pipe, that she was able to cough it out, that she didn’t choose something just slightly larger.

As Ken and I were putting her to bed, we reminded her one last time. “Remember you can only eat food, Nora. Remember to never put anything but food in your mouth.”

“I scared you?” she asked.

“Yes. You really scared us.”

Maybe she understands, but probably she doesn’t. But she knew that she could call me back into her room three times tonight instead of the usual one; that she could get extra kisses and water and cuddles; that she could say “night-night Mama” and make me melt just a little more than I have in a while.

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Filed under fears, mom guilt, nebulizer, pulmicort, routine with toddler, toddler with asthma, worries

Roller Coaster

I am frustrated and pop Nora’s bagel in a ziploc and throw it in her lunch bag. I chase her around again and attempt to put socks and shoes on her uncooperative feet. Ken steams about the house being a mess despite the fact that I was home all day Sunday. Nothing is going well. I am late for work, frustrated by Nora’s uncooperative behavior (though I can’t really blame her – she has no concept of being at work on time). At daycare, I tell Miss L to feed Nora the rest of her breakfast at snack time and walk out the door, hoping I am right that the day can only imrove.

Twenty-four hours later I am watching Nora play calmly with play-dough as she eats all of her bagel without me even asking her if she is ready for another bite. She happily gets dressed and puts her shoes and socks on while holding her nebulizer cooperatively to her face. She dances in her chair as the music on Sesame Street changes. I am dressed, have had my coffee, straightened my hair, and we even have time to spare. And to top it all off, when I put Nora down at daycare, she runs over to Miss L and gives her a giant excited hug, pushing any possible mom guilt way to the back of my mind. I thank Miss L and walk out the door, hoping that the day is going to stay as good as it started.

How can these two morning happen right in a row? Well, that’s life with a toddler, I guess. You never know what the next moment is going to bring. It could bring hopping around the house with a huge grin and a proud clap; or it could be tears and clinging and constant “no.” Ah, the roller coaster of toddlerhood.

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Filed under daycare, drama queen, mom guilt, nebulizer, routine with toddler

She’ll Probably Make 5′

I’m not sure if it’s general knowledge or not, but somehow I knew a while back that whatever Nora’s height was at Friday’s two year well-check, doubling it would give us a good estimate of her final adult height. So when she measured 29.5 inches at 18 months I began to seriously worry that she wouldn’t grow much past 5′, Yes, I know there are many many worse things, but I couldn’t help but wonder as this appointment approached whether she would have grown “enough.” On top of the short measuring at 18 months, I’ve also read in multiple places that pulmicort has the potential long-term side effect of stunting growth. Great, I thought. As if she needed another obstacle in her way to a height that wouldn’t cost her bundles in hemmed pants for the rest of her life. The great news is that she grew! Three whole inches in six months! So that means that she’ll be about 5′ 5″ (she’s 32.5″ now).

The real concern on Friday was obviously not really Nora’s height, but the progress her lungs have made from the last flare-up that was a week and a half old by the appointment. We had tapered down to every twelve hour albuterol treatments (and kept the pulmicort at its usual morning and evening levels as well). The doctor said Nora’s lungs sounded great. So we are back to just pulmicort and starting the countdown clock to the next flare-up. This time it was six weeks between episodes. Hopefully it can be even longer this time.

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Filed under nebulizer, pulmicort, toddler with asthma, worries


A few days ago I was able to look at Nora’s getting sick again with some sarcasm and humor. Now that has pretty much disappeared and I feel just frustrated, tired and sorry. Sorry for Nora who has to suffer through all this.

The asthma diagnosis was a relief initially. We had six weeks of health where Nora turned into quite an energetic toddler. Then we had an exhausting vacation, a trying homecoming and a week returning to the routine punctuated with more sickness.

Nora coughs. And coughs. And coughs. Then she vomits. Or she spits out wads of mucous. She won’t eat. She drinks milk and water. We try to give her treats – juice, pudding. But she just wants some goldfish and some more milk or water.

Starting on Wednesday Nora was on every-four-hour albuterol treatments, twice a day pulmicort, an antibiotic and she was given a dose of prednisone at the doctor Wednesday morning. Thankfully she loves doing her mask (what we call the nebulizer). When we had to do it in the middle of the night she complied, sucked her thumb and mostly slept through it.

What she hates is the oral medication. We can barely get her to take the sweet tasting motrin (if only they made it in goldfish flavor). The coconut flavor antibiotic is a struggle. And forget the prednisone that they perscribed for her yesterday. That made her vomit the complete contents of her stomach. When I called today to ask if they could give it to her as a shot, they said she was too young for that. That I should stick it in something sweet and hope she eats it. We tried pudding. She wanted no part of it.

Ken and I both have the cold that started all this for Nora. We are tired from the around the clock care that reminds me of when I was breastfeeding through the night. We just want her to be better. We don’t want to hear her moan from fever or cry from the pain of coughing. Every time I put the mask on her I am reminded at how permanent this problem really is. We can’t make it go away. And the struggle will be learning how to live with it – how to help her avoid flare-ups like this. I asked my mom if I was as bad as this. She said she didn’t really remember, but she could recall some similarities.

Nora is a trooper. She isn’t nearly as sick as the last few times we dealt with this. Yesterday she spent about an hour reading EVERY book on her shelf to herself. Ken took a video since he was so amazed. Maybe there’s a correlation between asthma and love of books. As I struggled to get other people’s children to read 9 pages of To Kill a Mockingbird, my own child sat at home devouring her literature. Something to smile about in all this sickness.

Watch the video here:

Nora reads ALL her books from sarah on Vimeo.

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Filed under nebulizer, pulmicort, sickness, toddler with asthma, Uncategorized, vomit

Guess who’s sick again?

If you guessed Nora you win: two different steroids, one albuterol, an antibiotic just to be safe and a talkative toddler who’d like to breathe better.

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Filed under mom guilt, nebulizer, pulmicort, sickness, toddler with asthma, vomit