Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just Breathe

This is the worst spring allergy season ever. Ok, so maybe that was overstating it a tad, but really, it is bad this year. Just Google it and you'll see.

Poor Joshy has allergies. Here's my little sneezy, itchy pumpkin (isn't he too adorable?!):

He gets the aforementioned (nay cursed) allergies from my side of the family. When he touches the cat and then touches his eyes, you can bet his eye will be red and itchy in a flash. It happens to me too. So we have to remember to wash our hands whenever we touch animals. That's pretty manageable. But since we live with not one but two pets, there are some indoor allergens to contend with. And of course, when Spring and Fall roll around, a fresh set of allergy pollens, molds, dusts, and whatever else crops up. So the pediatrician suggested trying Claritin with Josh. And since we've started it, Josh has done better. He takes it once a day, year round.

But this year? Once the weather finally turned warm, nature exploded into a yellow-tinged, hazy, polleny mess. And Josh has been suffering. He had the worst of it last week. We were giving him his daily Claritin, but we had to add in Benadryl because he couldn't deal with the itchy throat and eyes, and he had drainage and a slight cough from that.

He woke up crying two nights in a row, nose stuffed up to the point where he could not breathe. And he had a slight wheeze. I think he was scared because he felt like he couldn't get a breath. Then he would start crying, which only made things worse. We brought him to our bed both nights just to spare George and to help comfort/treat Josh. We did saline in the nose, and gave him Benadryl whenever it had been long enough, but he still had a hard time.

On top of all of that fun stuff, he ended up getting a monster case of poison ivy (which is thriving wonderfully all over our property). Thankfully, we started our second annual regimen of the wonder product Oral Ivy a few weeks ago, or else I think he'd have been suffering a fate I shudder to ponder. But even though it wasn't as bad as it could have been, it was still not pleasant and he would sometimes scratch it in his sleep.

So after those two bad nights, we decided to take him to the doctor. And the doctor said that Joshua has asthma (no doubt allergy-induced). His oxygen levels were low, and he took a breathing treatment while at the doctor's office. And after 3 hours at the doctor and a whole booklet's worth of prescriptions to bring home, we have a new situation on our hands.

Joshua (for now) has to take breathing treatments 4 times a day with a nebulizer. He uses one inhaler twice a day, plus is taking a steroid twice a day (for the poison ivy), plus is on Singulair daily, and will continue his Claritin daily. Oh, and there's a rescue inhaler in the mix too, just in case. And, being how I am, I had to create a spreadsheet medicine chart for the fridge so we could keep track of it all.

I am not thrilled with the idea that we are infusing our son with medications aplenty. But I am very thankful that these medications exist and can help treat him. I will seek out alternative and natural methods of healing him from (or at least reducing the symptoms of) this asthma and the allergies from whence it came. I would like to get him down to minimal (or no) medications if possible. But for now - I am so grateful for drugs. My son has slept soundly the last two nights, and he back to his chipper self. Now we can all relax and take a breath. Literally.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Life Can Change in an Instant

I have a very special group of friends. I met them over 5 years ago, when I was pregnant with George and Joshua. We were all pregnant with our first children, as a matter of fact. Women from various locations and backgrounds happened to have this one thing in common at the same time, and we came together in an online group. We were called "June Joys," because our babies were due in June.

A core group of us have remained friends throughout these past 5 years. We have shared our joys, pains, frustrations, phases of motherhood, the birth(s) of subsequent children, and just about everything else you can think of. When one of us has an issue with our child(ren), we bring it up to the group. And many times, others of us are going through the same thing. I think of these women as true friends to me. They have supported me in so many ways, laughed and cried with me, complimented my children and my efforts in motherhood, lifted me up when I have felt like a total failure, and have offered advice, suggestions, and resources that have proved to be incredibly valuable in my life. And though I have never met any of them in person, I love each and every one of them.

One of these special friends is Stephanie. Stephanie is an amazing woman. She is a woman of great faith in God, a math teacher/tutor, an outdoors enthusiast, skilled in crafting (knitting, etc.), and a very devoted wife and mother. She became a La Leche League instructor as she is very passionate about breastfeeding. She was a great resource to me when I was trying to nurse Blake and when I needed to increase my supply when I was pumping exclusively.

Stephanie is the mother of a little girl who is George and Joshua's age, and a little boy who is (I think) around 3 now. She had not been posting regularly on our group's board for a while, but many of us are Facebook friends with her and found out there that she became pregnant with number 3. We were all thrilled for her, of course.

During this pregnancy, Stephanie came down with pneumonia, and one day in February she became unresponsive. She was taken to the hospital, and has been hospitalized ever since. Her pneumonia turned into spinal meningitis, which caused paralysis from the neck down. She also suffered from other infections, and they had to deliver her baby at 28 weeks by emergency C-section to save both of their lives. She had a baby boy, and he is doing well at the time I am writing this (and I am unsure of all of the details, but this information is to the best of my memory/knowledge).

Stephanie has only seen her children twice since being hospitalized, and has only gotten to see her newborn preemie once. She has a trach tube, which means she cannot talk. And because of the paralysis, she cannot sign. The only way she can communicate is by having people read her lips. She has been transferred to a hospital many states away from where they live so that she can get specialized care, and her husband has to travel back and forth to be with her as much as he can. But he works full-time, of course, and is running out of paid time off. The medical bills are racking up quickly, and there will be more costs added due to the special care she will continue to need once she does get home.

This is a family that needs help. Their lives have been turned upside-down, and life as they knew it will never be the same. God is with this family, and there are tons of prayers going out for them daily. But they need support of a tangible kind, from people who are willing to give just a tiny bit. Whenever I think about what life must be like for them, it makes me wish I had some kind of real clout in the world. If I only had some celebrity who would tell this story and pull the heartstrings of millions! Oprah, we need you!

Alas, I have no connections. No clout. But I do have this blog. And I figure that this is a way that I can attempt to help out this family. So I ask you, dear reader - would you be willing to help? My goal is to raise $1,000 by July 1st. In the grand scheme of things, this is chump change. It won't touch the bills that this family will surely accrue. But it could pay for a couple of plane tickets. It might help with the need for ongoing childcare. It may be enough to help out in a moment of crisis.

How, you may ask, can I help? Well, I have placed a handy-dandy widget in the upper right corner of the blog page. All you need to do it click on it and it will direct you in how to donate (using PayPal). No amount is too small.

I applaud those who are helping out in the wake of the disaster in Haiti. I am grateful to those who give and serve in far away countries. And I know that there are many people fighting daily to better the lives of so many who struggle in our own country. But this is a chance to really make a difference for one family. A family who has been facing and will continue to face incredible challenges. A family who needs to know that people are praying and pulling for them. Will you help me make a difference?