Category Archives: toddler with asthma

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

The New “Misahble”

Everyone has a story of their childhood that gets told so often you think you actually might remember it. For me it’s the story of being miserable.

The story goes like this: A few days a week my beloved, high-heeled, wig-wearing, soap-opera-watching babysitter, Honey, would arrive at our house to find me standing at the top of the steps. “How are you feeling today, Sarah?” she would ask. “Misahble,” I would respond. I guess the story gets told so frequently since most two year olds don’t usually declare their misery so often or with such vocabulary. But I did because I was just that, miserable with allergies.

I’m sad to report that my misery hasn’t completely subsided as the years have progressed. In fact, just this week I stayed home from school one morning, thinking my encrusted, blood red eye was once again infected with the pink eye. I traveled to the eye doctor, skipping my regular doc since last time he was really of no use, just to be told that no, my eye was just the next logical target of my vicious allergies. My allergies are so notoriously bad that when my blood pressure crept up at the end of my pregnancy with Nora, my brother-in-law joked that now I may have even been allergic to my own baby. Many times I feel as if I should just live in a bubble.

So what does this have to do with Nora, the adorable subject of this here blog? Well, I fear that I may have passed my allergic misery on to her. For three mornings in a row now, after coughing a bit, after wiping a green-snotted nose, after a few sniffles and snorts, I have asked her, “Are you okay, Nora?” She has replied, “I don’t feel well. I’m little sick.” The new ‘”misahble.”

When I called the doctor today to see what I could possibly give her to relieve her “little sick” self, I was met with a somewhat of confused nurse. No Nora doesn’t have a fever (yet), she doesn’t have a vomit-inducing cough (yet), she doesn’t have wheezing (yet), but she did have a voice to tell me she isn’t quite right. And having been a miserable two-year-old myself, I believe her. I think the nurse thought I was crazy. She did oblige and tell me to give her some Zyrtec (which Nora refused to take) and to take her in tomorrow if the coughing worsened.

That nurse might have been skeptical, but this mom knows that allergies really suck the life out of you. And if the sudden meltdowns, tiny coughs, running snot and expressions of misery are any indication, my daughter and I might have more in common than a shared dislike of tank tops.

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Is a Cold Ever Just a Cold?

Nora’s coughing. Soft little coughs that every mom whose child does not have asthma probably wouldn’t think twice about. It’s a cold, they would say, and move on with life knowing the snot monster would surrender its grip of their child in due time. Or at least I think that’s what a mom whose child doesn’t have asthma would think. I can’t know for sure since my only child does have asthma.

So is a cold ever just a cold? I think we’re about to find out.

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Gearing Up

It arrived today. Shiny and lime green with a removable “pot” and attached splash guard. It sits now in our living room as a decoration, a “toy” to get acquainted with until the real use becomes a bit more viable. What is it? A potty.

Nora is 25 months now and knows when she “has a poop.” She’s still not really ready to potty train; she’d much rather sit and play in a sopping wet diaper than go into another room to change it; sometimes it takes my smelling her poop before she announces she needs a new diaper. But I’m gearing up for this next step. I’m ready to stop changing diapers. So if her potty is her best friend in six weeks when spring break arrives, if she’s progressed a bit in her disgust with her own soiled diapers, maybe I’ll embark on that next parenting challenge.

Something else green arrived today too. I didn’t order it from Amazon and I surely am not welcoming it into our living room. This time I speak of snot – or “boogies” as Nora calls them. They descended on me two days ago and now they are pouring out of poor Nora’s nose.

The arrival of snot sends me into panic mode. It is never “just a cold” with Nora. I watch the snot drip out of her nose and wonder when the vomiting will begin, when the coughing will start. I dread the days ahead that might mean crying, clinging, round-the-clock albuterol, an interruption to our finally-returned-to-normal sleeping. I pray to the pulmicort gods that her lungs are strengthened enough to avoid that this time. I gear up for the fight.

Please let this snot be wimpy.

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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