Monday, May 16, 2011

Whatever Gets You Through It

It's pretty much the worst allergy season on record. And our medicine cabinet proves it.

Sean's asthma, which he appeared to have outgrown some time ago, made a roaring comeback last week when the pollen counts reached their peak. His seasonal allergies were already in rough shape, and while Allegra was helping (Claritin did nothing for him), it wasn't enough. He quickly progressed from needing a couple of Albuterol puffs every four hours to requiring a treatment every two hours.

Truth be told, his asthma had been mananged until Tuesday night, when he endured an evening at the pollen-filled field for his baseball game. He insisted on playing, despite weeping eyes and a tight chest. He even made a couple of great plays in the outfield. His coach later remarked that "the kid is all heart. He's not a big kid. But he loves the game." That's my boy.

Sean slept okay that night, and he went off to school in better shape the following day. I had hoped he was through the worst of it, thinking maybe the pollen at the field had exacerbated his suffering. But that day at school he represented his class off-site at the New Haven city-wide science fair. He took his inhaler before the fair on Yale campus. Just an hour or so later, eyes again weeping and chest again tightening, he required his inhaler once more. His teachers were concerned, but he insisted he was fine and proceeded to represent his class to a second-place win for their category. That's my boy.

He returned to school and had his inhaler a third time in four hours. And then we were immediately on our way to the doctor.

For the first time in his life, he was nebulized. He was put on a steroidal inhaler through the beginning of summer, as well as his Albuterol as needed, twice daily Allegra, prescription antihistamine eyedrops, and five days of prednisone.

He was in such rough shape he wasn't allowed to go to school on Thursday--a major bust for a kid with perfect attendance. He wasn't even allowed to ride his bike or play baseball, since he was experiencing (again, for the first time in his life) exercise-induced asthma. Even his participation in the upcoming soap box derby and karate tournament over the weekend was in question.

And then the prednisone kicked in. Within 12 hours he was a different kid. He was himself, sort of. As my ex-husband put it after seeing him, "The highs are really high and the lows are really low on that drug." No doubt. Although he was not allowed to go to school or ride his bike on Thursday, he was doing cartwheels in the living room while I was on a conference call. Saturday, he ate a hot dog after the soap box derby and then a hamburger an hour later at his brother's baseball game.

And he wept. Oh, the weepiness! Sean cried -- sobbed -- over many things, in between cartwheels and fistfulls of BBQ Pringles. But his eyes were clear, his lungs were clear, and his oxygen levels were back up to 100%, so it was worth the temporary trade-off. It's such a bad season for pollen. Even Nolan, who has no seasonal allergies (or food allergies, for that matter), was put on a specific inhaler regimen because the pollen has aggravated his asthma in recent days. We don't want him to get to the point of requiring all the meds that Sean has needed just to get things under control.

Fortunately, Sean's last dose of prednisone was yesterday. I'm hoping he'll maintain his gains with the other meds, as well as with the forecasted wet week ahead of us. He's back to riding his bike. He's not struggling to breathe. He was jumping around the living room to the Clash's "1977" yesterday afternoon. And for the first time in a long time, no one in our house is complaining about the rain.

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