Call the Ambulance.
Stay with your child and help them to breathe.
Remain Calm. Remain Calm. Remain Caaaaaaaalm.
On Thursday morning, my 7 y.o. son had a severe, acute asthma attack. His worst yet. We had just arrived home from the GP, where I took him to double check his symptoms as I felt his flu was worsening as well as his asthma. After stopping at the chemist to fill scripts for an arsenal of medication, we went home to cocoon ourselves and have a restful day.
As soon as we walked in the door, I gave Benny his new plan dose of 12 puffs of ventolin because I noticed that he was wheezing again, even though he had just had some no more than 15 minutes ago when we were leaving the GP’s office.
2 minutes after we got home, already in our positions on the couch, I noticed Benny’s breathing had become a lot more laboured, despite the ventolin. I knew it would take another minute or so for it to kick in…
5 minutes after we got home, I said to Benny, “it’s not getting better is it buddy? C’mon, let’s go to the Hospital.”
2 minutes after that, as we walked towards the front door, Benny was clutching at his throat, pleading at me with his watery eyes, telling me with no voice that he couldn’t breathe. Terror in both our faces. He collapsed onto all fours on the hallway floor. I collapsed with him. Pulled my bag down with me. Phone. Quick fingers, quit trembling and WORK dammit, find the right buttons…..
My son can’t breathe
He is 7
He has asthma
My address is ************
Yes, his lips are a little blue
I’m holding his hands
We’re sitting on the floor
Ok, I’ll open the front door
Ok, I’ll stay calm
Look at me Benny, everything will be ok, let’s breathe slowly together. Breathe In…… and Out…. In again…. and Out….. They’ll be here soon Benny. Look at my eyes Benny. Everything will be ok. You’ll have some air soon Benny. Breathe In….. and Out…..
And in less than two minutes of maintained eye contact, hand holding and slow deep breathing later, they arrived. With all the tricks.
Oxygen mask was on in a heartbeat. Stickies for heartrate applied. Carried out to the Ambulance.
At the hospital, it was all so quick.
Steroids: check. More Oxygen: check. New medication in plan: check. Increased arsenal of meds: check.
“We’re confident that you can manage this plan at home, so there’s no need for you to stay.”
I am so very, very thankful at the medical attention, the nature of it, the speed, and the calmness at which it was delivered. I was a basketcase, but they kept me focussed.
And three hours after we left, one very brave boy and I were back at home again. Both of us beginning to breathe a little easier.
Benny, you are my hero.
Asthma was responsible for over 400 deaths in Australia in 2010, 17 of which were children under the age of 15. This is more than double the previous recorded asthma related deaths of children. In the words of the Chair of the National Asthma Foundation:
“This is the first time we have seen an increase in asthma-related deaths among children – it’s deeply concerning and should be a major wake-up call for parents”.
Trust me Dr Whitby, I am wide awake and terrified.
If you don’t know what to do in case of an asthma related emergency, please visit our National Asthma Foundation website and familiarise yourself with the Emergency Procedures.
So let’s get educated people, our young little heroes lives are at stake.