Letter from a mother who lost her son due to a fatal asthma attack at age 3 – An email from the Asthma Society of Canada

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Dear Erika,

The holidays are supposed to be such a happy family time. But they can be heartbreaking when you’ve lost a loved one, especially a child.

We lost our beloved son, Emerson, last December due to a fatal asthma attack. He was only three.

I desperately want to make sure my family’s tragedy doesn’t happen to anyone else. The Asthma Society of Canada is working hard to make that happen.

Erika, please give a gift that really matters this holiday season. Your donation to the Asthma Society of Canada’s Holiday Appeal will ensure that other families receive the information and education they need to recognize signs of the disease and how to prevent a tragedy like ours.

Emerson was such a joy. He was always up for anything and afraid of nothing. Our beautiful boy wanted to be just like his brother, almost two years older than him.

Emerson had his first chest infection at 11 months. He got a ‘puffer,’ which we then used whenever he got a cold or cough. He would use it for two weeks at a time, and it always worked to relieve his cough and chest congestion.

Otherwise, he got the usual coughs and colds, but nothing that seemed unusual. He was a happy and healthy child.

That all changed last December. He caught a cold, and as always with Emerson, it went to his chest. We took him to the urgent care clinic, then a pediatrician, where his puffers were increased, then changed. Over the next two days, he had severe bouts of coughing, sometimes coughing so hard he threw up.

During the night of December 15, he began crying and coughing heavily. He was so wheezy and congested, we decided he needed to go to the Emergency Department. We wondered if he might be having an asthma attack.

Supporters like you have done so much to educate Canadians about the disease through the work of the Asthma Society of Canada. But there’s still more that needs to be done. Thank you for being part of the solution.

At Emergency, they saw Emerson quickly, and gave him three nebulizers (a mask that blows tiny drops of medication deep into his lungs). While receiving them, he was happy and his chest was clear.

The hospital performed an x-ray on his chest and the doctors said there was nothing obvious on them, possibly the beginning of bronchitis. They felt I was doing everything I could at home. Unsatisfied, I planned to call the pediatrician as soon as we got home.

On the way home, Emerson coughed non-stop and kept asking for his puffer. I stopped and gave it to him, but it didn’t help.

If I had known more about asthma, I would have turned right around and gone back to the hospital. I know now that someone who doesn’t respond to the puffers needs to be seen right away.

A few minutes before we got home, Emerson’s coughing stopped. I thought he had fallen asleep in the car, as he had done so many times before.

When I went to get him out of his car seat, Emerson was not breathing. I called 911 and started CPR, but he never came back. The autopsy later confirmed Emerson died from an asthma attack.

Emerson had never suffered an asthma attack before. I think if I had been better educated about the disease, I would not have left the hospital that day. Maybe our sweet little Emerson would still be here.

Our family is not alone in our grief. In Canada, 250 people die from asthma attacks each year. But you can help change that. Please send your generous gift to this Holiday Appeal to ensure other families have happy holidays for many years to come.

 

Thank you,

Sheri Olain

Emerson’s mom

 

Denied the right to carry an inhaler on their person.

If your child is in school and has asthma, are they allowed to carry their inhaler on their person at all times? When I was in elementary school and high school in Quebec, I was. There were never any questions asked…

If you have not yet heard the story of a young Ontario boy who lost his life Oct. 9th, 2012 due to a severe asthma attack, you need to read this story. I am still shocked that some schools wouldn’t allow youth with asthma and prescribed inhalers to carry them at all times. Ryan’s mother, Sandra Gibbons is taking a stand and wants to ensure what happened to her son does not happen to another child.

Read here: Ontario Mom Urges Schools to let Asthmatic Kids Carry Puffers

 

“Defining allergy fact from fiction”

I’ve been busy lately, and am trying to organize my routine, so I can still have time to post and share interesting articles and research I come across with you, my readers.

Nowadays, there is so much information on the internet that it can often feel like you need to sift through fact and fiction or myth and reality. I always say to go with what you hear straight from a board-certified allergist and/or physician. Who knows what the real source is on the internet. I know if I have questions, whether it be about contact skin reactions, food reactions, potential allergic reactions to medications, I go to my allergist, and if he’s not available, then I’ll run it by my physician. And then, once they’ve diagnosed, or explained it to me, yes, I may do an internet search to see if others are living with the same challenges, because it’s nice to not feel alone.

I hope the following article will help you see some fact on a few topics you or perhaps someone you know believed, and in the end is fiction.

Defining allergy fact from fiction” – Press Release from American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

What was the biggest “Ah ha!” of this article, that you perhaps wish your friends or family read, so they would see that it is “just a myth”.

For me it is hands down #5; “I’m Allergic to Cats and Dogs, but Can Have a Hypoallergenic Breed”. So many people say “oh, it’s a poodle, you won’t be allergic”… actually, yes, I am.

Victoria Allergy and Asthma Fair! A success.

Today was the Allergy and Asthma Fair organized by “Protecting Anaphylactic Children Today“. There was a great turnout to this event held at the Esquimalt Recreation Center this afternoon. There were speakers as well as several booths set up with resources and treats. Sara Shannon spoke as well as a Ministry of Health 811 Dietician and an Ambulance Paramedic.

Some of the local companies included Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe, The Market on Millstream and The Market on Yates, Dare Foods, Epicure Selections.

Many of us challenged each other with our spirometry results which was great fun, all thanks to the VIHA Respiratory Health team!

The information booths included:

Allergies Abroad
Health Canada
Asthma Society of Canada & National Asthma Patient Alliance
Allergic Living Magazine
Anaphylaxis Canada
Allergy/Asthma Information Association (AAIA)

If you joined us today, what did you think? Did you return home with some new resources and perhaps new ideas on how to manage either your allergies and/or a loved ones?

Feel free to share comments here!

The September Asthma Spike

As many of you probably know, the month of September has been been known as the Asthma Spike. The “so-called asthma spike – the day on which many parents will show up at the hospital with school-age children in the throes of asthma attacks” is a common thing, as the return to school and more exposure to allergens, like dust can cause youth’ asthma to flare up.

How do you try to prevent this from happening? Do you have a plan with your doctor? Perhaps you have discussed a plan with your pulmonary specialist or allergist. Do you feel your lungs are getting the best attention they can? When you have asthma and you know what triggers it, being proactive is the way to go!

Allergic Living has a great article on this, I suggest having a read :-)

http://allergicliving.com/index.php/2010/07/02/asthma-spike-in-september/

Who knows about your Epipen?

If you have severe, life-threatening allergies and carry an Epipen are your friends aware that you have one on you? Or perhaps even two. Do they know what the signs are that you are having a reaction? Personally, I am pretty quick to bring up the topic, with new friends and acquaintances as it is so important. What if something happened and you couldn’t administer it to yourself? If ever I am hesitant about telling someone, likely a person I don’t know well, I always remind myself… “there’s no shame  in having allergies, and the Epipen is what will save your life”. We all have our moments.

At work, my colleagues know about the Epipen, and I demo’d how to use the Epipen to the colleagues I share an office with. How do you discuss your allergies with your employer? Or do you? I know I was a little unsure at first how to approach them. In the end, it came down to a simple talk. In your experience, what has the response been? Are they accommodating?

 

Back to School and Asthma

With classes approaching, asthmatics (children and young adults alike) will be faced with unique challenges and awareness of the triggers will be of great importance. How have you prepared for your child’ return to school in the past? If you are a University student, what does back to classes mean to you, that is if you were off for the summer…

I know I had a tough time, especially during pollen season. However, there is usually a work around, and hopefully some of your professors are understanding and willing to accommodate. In my own experience, discussing your allergies and asthma with the professor at the start of the course and/or making an appointment to talk with them during their office hours is always a GREAT idea!

Here’s an interesting article about back to school with asthma. http://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3598314