Sunday, September 20, 2015

our fears come true (asthma at school)

It happened again. I wasn't prepared for it and to say I panicked just a little bit would be an understatement.  But so understandable.

I was in my Bible Study group when I saw that I had missed a phone call from the Older's school and had a voice mail. I didn't know if I should check it (it seemed awfully rude to go on my phone when our Teaching Leader was talking; especially since this was my first meeting) or just hope that if it was important that they would contact my husband. As we were breaking to start something else, I see that there are some text messages from Kai but from Abi's phone.

Abi was being taken to the hospital by ambulance after suffering an asthma attack during PE.

My world stopped.

Memories of the day she almost died three years ago assault me and I can't breathe either.  Of course, as I'm trying to explain to my own Leader, I'm crying. So much for being strong in front of people you don't really know; people who don't know your story! I felt a bit silly. But mostly I felt so afraid.

I got a hold of my Hunny on the phone; he was on his way to the hospital, sounding totally calm. He said that he talked to the Paramedic and that Abi was doing okay and there was nothing to worry about. He said that I didn't have to come. Are you kidding me? I was definitely coming and I felt I had a lot to worry about!

Not that I didn't believe him either. I appreciated his calmness, and I don't think I truly thought it would be a repeat of what happened in our house three years ago-- I didn't think she'd pass out or that she was going to stop breathing; it sounded like things were under control. But I also couldn't calm my feeling of panic.

There was a verse that God had spoken to me earlier in the week and I tried to repeat it to myself on the drive to the hospital. "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." Psalm 94:19 

I didn't find that I received joy, but I did find strength and I did have focus. Instead of thinking of my fears and the 'what ifs' or the painful memories in the past, I chose to remind myself of the calm my husband had, and the knowledge that she was being taken care of, and that there were women praying over Abi (and myself) in my Bible study group.

When I arrived, I cried at the parking meter since I didn't have enough money in coins and my credit card was missing. (forcing people to pay for parking at a hospital is just a terrible idea!) I offered a scruffy looking older man my $5 bill if he just had $1.50 for me, and when he just gave me the money without wanting mine in exchange, I cried some more. *sigh* Oh, so it's going to be one of those days, is it? But despite all of my anxiety and embarrassing emotions, I was so relieved to see Abi looking some-what normal!

Other than the bright red cheeks, the fast breathing, and the face mask of oxygen, that is. But she looked calm, just tired. And I could handle that!

She said that she was in PE and their teacher is trying to teach them all to run a 5K by the time school is over. I thought that was a mighty big goal, an impressive one! The idea is that none of the kids are allowed to walk, but have to keep up a steady pace. However, just three minutes into the run and Abi's chest is starting to hurt and she's having a hard time breathing. She tried to push herself further since she had barely even begun, but she soon realized that it was getting worse, not better. Her breathing became panting, and when she asked to retreive her inhalers from her locker, the teacher suggested she take some friends along for support since she didn't look good. That quickly turned too as her panting, walking and attempts at talking made her weak and dizzy. (her friends were freaking out, she said!)

Unfortunately, her inhalers were empty and she forgot her refills at home. Thankfully, they were able to have Kai sent from his class to borrow his inhalers. But by that time, her attack had been going on for too long without any proper relieving medication, so his inhalers didn't help despite being the same dose as hers. That's around the same time another teacher (or more) got involved and looked over her (and that's when she could see the way he was looking at her eyes and studying her that she said to him, "I don't have a concussion, you can stop checking!"  It's the exam she sees her Daddy do on the kids whenever they get hurt! The teacher laughed, but kept caring for her. I think it's a good sign that she could make silly comments like that. So much like her Mom!) And that's around the time they called for an ambulance. Thankfully the hospital is just a few streets over from the school, so it wasn't a long wait. Soon enough, there were 8 or 9 paramedics in the school, getting info, checking over my girl!  She was well taken care of!

Her hospital stay actually was brief. Only a few hours. She moved from oxygen through a mask, to the nose prongs to room air within two hours. Then she was allowed to go home just after lunch! It was all rather surprising and we weren't too sure how comfortable we felt about that, but she really was doing better with her breathing. Her chest was sore, and she was very tired and weak and didn't have the strength to speak loudly, but that was okay. I expected that, but the idea of leaving the security of the hospital so soon after an attack that brought you there seemed scary!

The whole thing was so incredibly different than the severe attack that happened three years ago. Other than the obvious points where she didn't pass out and have blue lips and cheeks, or that it wasn't us who called for an ambulance. There was the fact that this time she didn't panic and hyperventilate (I panicked! But had I been there, I probably wouldn't have.) I am so happy to say (and sad) that experience is a teacher; she knew not to freak out, she knew to keep focused, she knew she had to push harder (especially since her own support group in the school were getting scared and she had to instruct them!) I was so proud of her. Not hyperventilating obviously helped!

Her recovery has been different too. The first time, she stayed at the hospital overnight. This time only three hours. The first time, she seemed to bounce back by day two. This year, it has taken four days. (she missed the rest of the week of school, since she was too weak to do much of anything. She has finally gained enough energy to make it out of the house for a bit.)  They had given her 15 units of ventolin instead of the usual 2, so she was so dizzy and shakey all the way until 8pm that night, 10 hours later! She's also had a headache all week and hearing sensitivity and some more asthma flare ups, which I don't recall three years ago. And this year there is no follow up. But apparently this recovery is all normal.

So what caused her attack? Her morning was just fine at home. No problems breathing, no wheezing, no cold or illnesses. So this really was out of the blue. However, there were a bunch of small things. First is that she forgot to take her allergy pill and she forgot to pack her new inhalers. Second is that there were a few factors in what could've triggered it: the grass that had been cut (she is allergic to grass; it makes her itchy and when it is mowed it can make breathing difficult), the air was chilly that morning (cold air is harder on asthmatics), and she was running. (PE was her first class that day.) Not having her own inhalers didn't help. Taking too long to get a rescue inhaler from her brother wasn't good either.

I'm not too sure what that means. I don't think she should avoid PE, as much as she would love to! (She does need physical activity and keeping active is good for the lungs. I know that the teacher is trying to get them up to a 5K runner, and that he wants them to not walk, but her father and I have told her that if she needs to walk, she does. And if the teacher gets upset with her, we will back her up! However, after this incident, I don't think he'll push her too much!) I guess we just make sure that she's got her inhalers with her and they are current and full and that she doesn't forget allergy pills in the morning. I'm not too sure about the chilly air....maybe wear a scarf? (haha)  We will adjust things as we go along.

I am just so thankful that she was about to be level headed (although she said that at the beginning of school, she had this 'weird' feeling, like a regretful feeling, but she didn't know why. Another funny thing is that a friend of mine said that when she dropped off her daughter to the school, she had a 'bad feeling' about PE too, but thought it was a worry for her girl's own asthma! Strange!)
I am also thankful that Kai was able to help her out. It may have been a bit too late for his inhalers, but I am grateful that he could offer them, especially since she has been the one to rescue him a few times last year! Hey, they may have actually helped give her more time before the ambulance arrived with sirens on!
I am thankful for the friends who stopped what they were doing right then and prayed for her (and our family) when they heard. God heard and He answers! She got the help she needed and in time, and I had found strength despite my fears.
I am thankful that the school acted swiftly in calling for outside help, and that they were able to contact my husband when I didn't respond to their calls (I was in a different room than my cell phone at that time)
I am thankful that she is healing. Even if it is a lot slower than we anticipated. She has been so weak and sore, and breathless, but she has not gotten worse, and we didn't need to have a prescription for meds at home and she didn't need to return to the ER.
It was a lot less dramatic this time and I am so thankful.

One of our biggest fears was that there would be another major asthma attack when Abi wasn't with us (and I know her fear was to have one at school) and it happened. And we survived. And we realized that things could be okay. Not having it happen again would be great though.


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