Preparing for Battle

It took me a long time to admit this, but something was wrong with MK.

MKs Breathing Treatment
MK's Breathing Treatment

We’re a very healthy family. I think the last time I went to the doctor was … three years ago? And that was for a sinus infection, which I used to suffer from at least once, sometimes twice, a year. But ever since I discovered nose spray, I haven’t had one sinus infection.

Go figure.

The husband hasn’t been to the doctor in … forever. I think the last time he went he had a wart burned off.

The only time GD has been to the doctor in the last ten years was to either see his orthodontist or to get his booster shots.

And before this picture (he looks like he’s about 10 in this picture, he’s now 13), MK hadn’t been to the doctor since he was a toddler.

So, we’re healthy. And we plan on staying that way because we trust, and believe, that God will help us maintain our health. Period.

MK’s “problem” began when he was three years old. April rolled around and suddenly, MK began sneezing – a lot. Like about ten sneezes in a five minute period.

And then the coughs started. It would start with a little *cough* and before long, it graduated into a *COUGHCOUGHHACKSNEEZECOUGH*.

I couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on with him. He had been perfectly healthy up to that point so I treated it like a cold, giving him children’s Tylenol or cough syrup. But these medications did absolutely nothing for him and he just got worse. So much worse, in fact, that he couldn’t take a breath without coughing.

The edges of his face began to turn gray and he would complain, “Mommy, my chest hurts.” I’m assuming from all the coughing, poor little guy.

I tried everything I could think of but nothing I did helped him. I grew frantic and when it got to the point where he couldn’t breathe anymore, I got scared. Really, bone-freezing scared. I rushed him to his pediatrician and was told that since I didn’t have an appointment, they couldn’t see him. Even though she could CLEARLY see my child was in distress. I honestly think if I hadn’t been so worried about MK and hadn’t been holding him, I would have jumped through that little window in their glass partition and strangled the smugness right out of her.

I left, cursing her under my breath and now REALLY SCARED. Though I was out of my mind worried, it never crossed my mind to take him to the emergency room. I think now, thinking back, I thought that if I took him to the emergency room, I would be admitting that something was seriously wrong with my little boy and I just wasn’t ready for that.

So, I took him to walk-in clinic.

They were very nice to us and saw us right away. MK was coughing so badly by this time that they had to give him a breathing treatment first before they could even examine him.

Once his coughing was finally under control and he was loopy from the drugs he was breathing, he slumped against me in exhaustion. A portion of my heart broke for him and I vowed I would never allow this sort of thing to happen again. My son was looking to me to take care of him and I wouldn’t let him down.

They began their examination and their conclusion? He was allergic … to something. They couldn’t tell me what but what happened was, some allergen attacked my son and he went into the normal process of trying to expunge it – the sneezing, the coughing. Only, his reaction graduated into a full-blown asthma attack, hence the reason he couldn’t breathe. The passageways in his lungs had narrowed in order to try and protect itself from attack.

I was calmer. Now I knew what I was dealing with. Every April when his allergies began to flare up, without fail, I treated him with OTC allergy drugs and years went by with my being successfully able to ward off future asthma attacks by keeping his allergies down.

But then, we had an unusually wet spring and MK’s allergies just sort of exploded out of the gate. Usually, I could detect the first warning signs and head them off at the pass with allergy medicine. Not that year. One day he was fine, the next *WHAM* we were all hit up alongside the head and the dreaded coughing began.

As a mother, you instinctively recognize when a cough is dry because of a tickle, or wet and breaking up after a cold, and when it’s a consistent, I’m not going away any time soon sort of cough.

I prayed it would go away. I prayed we wouldn’t have another mind-blowing coughing spell like when he was three-years old.

But it happened anyway.

I was calmer this go-around. I sort of knew what to expect and I was smart enough to not allow it to escalate into the red zone. I took him back to the clinic, they gave him another breathing treatment and even allowed us to rent a nebulizer.

Which we used off and on for about two months.

After the season passed, I admitted defeat. I knew he was allergic to something, I just didn’t know what he was allergic to. The not knowing? I don’t do so well with that.

The husband went to an allergist years ago and found out he had some food allergies. So, I got the name of that doctor and we went to see him.

MK endured a very uncomfortable (and painful) session of being pricked in the back about 30 times with various allergy triggers. He kept a stiff upper lip, until the doctor and nurse left the room to give him time to react to the testing and he started crying. The silent, it-breaks-my-heart-to-see-him-like-that, tears.

It couldn’t have been 30 seconds after the doctor and nurse left us that his skin began to bubble – really, really bubble in quite a few places. He was absolutely, definitely allergic to something – actually, quite a few somethings judging by the look of his back. I wish I had had the presence of mind to take a picture of it but I was so shocked to see the reaction that it never crossed my mind.

He began to squirm because it started to itch, like I’m-going-to-die-if-I-don’t-scratch-very-soon sort of itch. I had to work hard at distracting him before the doctor came back because he wasn’t supposed to scratch at them until he got a look at them. The doctor finally came back (though he was gone for only a few minutes, it felt like hours, you know how that feels) and his eyes widened when he saw how MK had reacted.

He had several good-sized bumps, but there was one in particular that bubbled to the size of a dime. Even the doctor was shocked by the size.

I know this because he said, his eyes wide, and just a little surprised, “Wow. Look at the size of that one.”

He consulted his chart. The culprit? Oak. MK’s body HATES oak. It hates other kinds of trees, too. And even some grasses, but oak is the one it hates the most.

Guess what? The neighbor across the street? Has three HUGE oak trees standing guard in her front yard. Virtually right outside of MK’s window.

Great. Just freaking great. And this made sense to me because when he was at school? His allergies weren’t that severe. But the minute he came home? BAM! We got slapped in the face. And that would be why, because the oak trees were blooming and spitting lethal pollen practically in his face.

The doctor prescribed Singular during the day and Zyrtec at night to help keep his allergies under control. And he even gave us a prescription to the medicine you use in a nebulizer just in case we needed it (because we bought our own nebulizer – you think I will be caught unawares next time? I don’t THINK so).

MK has endured the last few springs relatively easily. I’ve had to make sure he was good and drugged, but overall, he’s handled the allergens pretty well. I took him in to see his allergist last May for a check up and to make sure the Singular/Zyrtec combo was working and he gave me another prescription for Singular and some sort of inhaler (which I hope we don’t have to use but it’s nice to have it as a backup, just in case). Zyrtec is now available OTC so I don’t have to worry about jumping through doctor visits to get my hands on that drug.

After that last visit, I forgot all about MK’s allergies because the rest of the year, he’s perfectly healthy. But now that January has rolled around and spring is coming, it’s uppermost in my mind again. I went and picked up another season’s worth of Singular this past week because I like to be prepared for these sorts of things. I can handle ANY crisis, with a military precision, IF I know what I’m dealing with.

And trust me, MK’s allergies will never catch me with my pants down again, let me assure you.

When I paid for MK’s Singulars, I was shocked by the amount – it cost us $35.00 for 30 pills. I’m pretty sure I had never paid that much in the past so I asked the gal if our insurance paid any of it?

“Oh sure!” She said with a nervous giggle. “They paid $100 of it. Here, you can see how much they paid right here,” she said while pointing to the “your insurance paid this much” total.

Again, I was flabbergasted. Singular now cost $135.00?! Are you kidding me?? Thank God for health insurance! But I suppose that is what the drug companies are counting on – because if you have health insurance, do you really CARE how much it is? All you care about is how much YOU have to pay.

It sickened me. What about the poor people who didn’t have insurance? No wonder people can’t afford to get healthy, it’s a sick scam!

And though this realization angers me, even though it makes me angry at our system, at the drug companies, in the end, it doesn’t matter because in the end, I know, and the drug companies and government know, that we will pay and/or do anything it takes to make our loved ones well again.

Scary, isn’t it.

3 thoughts on “Preparing for Battle”

  1. Ah, the good ol’ nebulizer. I’ve had to get ours out this week for my 2 year old. I’m actually about to call the doctor because it doesn’t seem to be helping much.

    I hope none of my kids ever have to go through the skin test, but I have a feeling one of them might. That must have been miserable, especially the oak – the size of a dime? They use such miniscule amounts to prevent that kind of reaction!

    Our problem with allergies is kind of like your oak tree – we have ragweed that grows on the fence in our backyard. My whole family takes allergy medicine as long as the ragweed is present (about 8 months of the year). I tried to get rid of it once and it was like pruning it – it regrew faster and larger than before. UGH!

  2. I cannot have children. I feel anxious, powerless, angry, and terrified reading this about YOUR baby. If it were my own I don’t know I would be of any use as a mother.

  3. wow. thanks for sharing because it motivates me to take my kids to be checked out for asthma.

    do remember, drugs like singular couldn’t exist without the drug companies’ r&d, which they fund through the high cost of drugs.

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