Monday, April 20, 2015

Stella Health Update/Kaiser's Birthday

Just wanted to do a quick update on Stella's health since we saw the Pediatric Allergy and Asthma specialist in Rockford a few days ago. 

The doctor was to the point, but nice.  He is treating her for asthma, but she is too young to officially test for asthma and allergies.  Since she responds well to asthma treatment, it is more than likely asthma.  He did say that sometimes after being sick little kids can wheeze for weeks.  Given that Stella has had croup, the stomach flu, 2 colds, a double ear infection and pneumonia in the past 7 months (she's basically been sick since she turned 1) I am sure that this is a possibility.  We are hopeful that in a few months we can try to take her off the asthma medications and she will be cured.  However.  I don't think that is going to happen.  I am hopeful yet realistic.  I didn't know much about asthma before this, but after a little research and talking to some who have it and have little children with it, I think Stella fits the bill.  Allergies, asthma and eczema often go hand-in-hand.  Stella has all 3.  I mentioned before that her regular doctor put her on Zyrtec and Similac after I told him she seemed to sneeze constantly.  She also used to dig her fingers in her eyes every day.  If you really know me you know how bad this is.  I have a true eye phobia.  I wear glasses and could NEVER put a contact in.  When I visit my eye doctor it's on my chart to bring the nurses in to hold my hands down.  Yes, even still at 31 years old.  So I hated this "habit" of Stella's.  I had to discipline her for it, which is never fun (yet necessary).  I didn't want any long term eye damage.  Anyways, now I think her eyes itched from allergies and she didn't know what to do.  Since being on the allergy meds I haven't seen her touch her eyes.  I tried to go without the allergy meds for a couple days to see what happened and she was back to sneezing and digging.  So for now we're sticking with those.  I have bad seasonal allergies as well, but didn't develop them until later in life.  Poor Stella.  She also has eczema on her legs.  We got a topical steroid cream to apply at night so I am excited to get that cleared up.  He said the bad cradle cap she had as a new baby was probably eczema as well.  So given all these facts, I am pretty sure we'll be battling this asthma crap for a while.  Or forever.   

OK, so the treatments.  They are MUCH better than what we've been doing.  She got an inhaler with a chamber since she's so young.  We do one medicine everyday twice a day when shes healthy (along with her allergy and eczema meds).  This is called the "Green Light" stage.  If she starts wheezing we have a different inhaler med that we give every 20 minutes for an hour (or before a big event/exercise as prevention).  This is the "Yellow Light" stage.  If she gets better we stop, but if not we move on to the "Red Light" stage.  Here we give her the liquid steroid (which I filled the prescription for and keep on hand) and consult her doctor.  She HATES the inhaler (mainly the mask that goes with it).  The first few times were a nightmare.  She cried so many tears, it was heartbreaking.  We're just trying to keep her healthy and she thinks we're being mean.  It sucks.  But like anything in life, it gets better with time.  The first few times it took both of us (one to operate the inhaler and one to hold her down), but now we do it in her high chair before breakfast and dinner.  We put on her favorite show and she only cries a little.  It only takes a minute.  2 minutes a day compared to an hour a day on the nebulizer is great!  An extra hour a day for us!!  Plus the best part...he had a free sample chamber for us (they retail for $70) and gave us enough sample inhaler medicine to last a month so we aren't spending the $100 a week on the dang nebulizer medicine.  A silver lining to this gray cloud.

There are several worse illnesses out there than asthma.  Several parents have it worse than us.  But let me tell you I FEEL for them.  Until you realize how scary, stressful and expensive a chronic illness is you can only imagine.  But when you live it, on whatever level, you sympathize with them.  For the most part I feel confident with our plan and ability to execute it, but I have known people who died from asthma.  What if a smell sets her off?  What if it gets worse?  What if we forget her inhaler?  There are additional horrible fears that run through our minds every day.  But like any other fears parents have, we do the best we can to raise her healthy and capable and give the rest up to God.  

We go back to see the doctor in a month.  The drive is a little less than 2 hours, so it's not really that bad.  We enjoyed our morning this time.  After the appointment we had lunch at Cracker Barrel and stopped at the house we used to live at in Amboy (we know the people we sold it to) so Stella could see their horses.  We got back home a little before 3:00 because Mark had to go into work.  Stella was pretty wiped, so we watched a movie and had an early dinner and bedtime.
Loved the train table in the waiting room, and kept her entertained in the office with some milk and (OF COURSE!) the plastic fence she's been carrying around for about 6 weeks.  Silly girl.

And a quick side note, last Friday was Kaiser's 6th birthday.  I usually make him a (doggie) birthday cake, but Stella and I had to run to Peoria for my doctor appointment so we swung through the dog bakery (yes, that exists) and picked him up a birthday cookie.  He enjoyed it, of course!  Mark worked late so we weren't able to go for our traditional birthday walk (I can't handle a stroller and our 90 pound I'm-a-puppy-and-am-going-to-pull-you-all-over-the-place-while-on-the-leash dog yet on my own!) but it was a beautiful day so Kaiser got plenty of sunshine and fetch time in the backyard.
Waited so patiently!
Kaiser and Stella are the best of friends.  They don't like to be apart and I often find them laying together on his dog bed!  His birthday was no exception :-)  Kaiser is a wonderful dog and our family wouldn't be complete without him.
Now that we have our health under control I don't know what I'm going to write about ;)  Just kidding, I have lots of fun post ideas coming up.  So see you soon!

Monday, April 6, 2015

We finally celebrated a holiday at the right time! (aka Happy Easter)

After missing Christmas, New Years and Valentines Day due to sickness I was bound and determined not to sit Easter out!  Everything is pretty much the same since my last post:  Stella still wheezes terribly when she's not on her steroid medication.  We continued our weekly doctor visits the past 2 weeks, but I think we're finally getting somewhere.  We broke down and purchased the expensive nebulizer steroid.  She shouldn't have the liquid one over and over (not good for her little body) but the nebulizer one is inhaled and just goes straight to the lungs.  It runs about $100 a week, but once we reach our deductible it drops down to $10.  So there is hope.  We purchased 2 weeks worth because Stella's doctor got her into a pediatric asthma and allergy specialist in Rockford in 2 weeks.  We tried Peoria first, but it was a 6 week wait and we don't have 6 weeks.  After telling him we'd drive ANYWHERE he had luck in Rockford.  We are seeing him on April 16th in the morning.  I've heard he's the best so I am excited to hear what he has to say.  Even though it's a bit of a drive, I hope to make a day of it and maybe do some shopping and take Stella somewhere fun after the appointment.  Mark's been working 15 hour days so it will be nice to have a family day (although he did get to spend Easter with us).  Stella's doc also prescribed Zyrtec and the Similac once a day as well, and the combo of medicines is doing a good job keeping the wheezing at bay...even though most of the day is spent medicating ;)  She did start wheezing really badly on the way home last night, but once I gave her the breathing treatment she cleared right up.  We do have a prescription write up on hand for the liquid steroid should she escalate...which is comforting because I know it works very quickly and she can get hospital-grade wheezy within a few minutes.  So being prepared with medications allowed us to finally celebrate a holiday on time!

Saturday my sister and I took Stella and Ryder to see the Easter Bunny at the mall.  Ryder was deathly afraid and Stella wasn't so much afraid of the bunny as she just hates sitting on laps.  So she enjoyed him at first as he tickled her but quickly became over it. 
After getting our bunny pictures (it took 2 attempts) we let the kids play at the play place in the mall (they recently remodeled our mall.  although there aren't many stores the mall itself is very nice) and then had lunch at Chick-Fil-A.  Stella loved her meal and ate a ton!
Seriously how cute are her white jeggings?  Aunt Abby picks out the cutest outfits!
Then we went back to our mom's house and dyed Easter eggs.  Stella just watched and snacked.  The kids had a fun afternoon playing together and taking a bath, but since Stella missed her nap she got super cranky around 5:00 so we headed home.  She was too tired to even get her meds so she went straight to bed.
Sunday morning we had cinnamon rolls and our traditional coffee with Baileys.  The Easter Bunny stopped by for a visit this year.  He even left goodies for Kaiser!  Stella was more interested in Kaiser's stuff than her own, if you can imagine that.  She did eat an entire cinnamon roll, I think that was the highlight of her morning!  No egg hunt this year, she's not walking yet so I didn't see the point.
Mark played Easter Bunny for his family and delivered our surplus of fresh farm eggs.
Kaiser was so excited for his new bone he ran straight to the door to take it outside and bury it.  He wanted to take the lion too but we wouldn't let him (he'd just take it outside and eat it).
After getting ready we headed to lunch at Mark's aunt's house followed by dinner at my Grandma's.  Stella napped on the car ride from Buda to Annawan (20 minutes) but that was it.  She did good considering she normally takes a 2 hour nap.  She laughed and laughed as she played with her cousins and ate lots of lunch and 2 entire pieces of pizza for dinner!  Worked up quite the appetite playing all day!
Our little family's Easter.
When the adults did an egg hunt Stella just sat by herself quietly.  She's the best girl.
Today was a day of cleaning up the "Easter Hangover"...picking up the house, getting rid of extra Easter candy, and getting ready to get back in the grind tomorrow.  Stella took a 3 hour nap and basically wanted to sit and watch movies all day.  I just went with it, she needed to rest and I had lots to do.  As I was cleaning I looked over and she was standing up at the toy chest!  I didn't see her do it but it was the first time and I was shocked!  She carries around this piece of fence from my Grandma's house (she had one piece for 3 weeks but we lost it at the zoo last week so my Grandma gave her 2 more yesterday) and she likes to drop it in the toy box and dig it out.  Sometimes she cries for my help if it goes too deep, but she must have pulled up to get it out herself!  I was so proud!  Therapy must already be paying off, she's also taking steps on her own while holding onto our hands.  I am very ready for her to walk :)
Stood up on her own!  (don't mind that she's still in Easter jammies and not very happy with me for always taking her picture!)
Hope everyone enjoyed their Easter holiday/Spring Break.  I love holidays but they always make me appreciate the quiet time when they are over!