My Top Tips (all advice given on this page and website should not be taken as medical advice and one should always consult their own medical practitioner before following any advice given on this forum- just some tips from a Momma)
Top Tip #1: Find a Medical Team with a Shared Vision
Brooklyn was born a big, beautiful and, seemingly, healthy baby. The only issue was that he was allergic to dairy, but after moving him onto a soy formula, we had not a problem at all. The only thing I noticed that was amiss was that he could not lay on his tummy. If held in your arms he would almost push away because he was so uncomfortable in that position. I assumed there was something wrong with his stomach. I consulted a doctor who assured me that it was not the case. I also asked the doctor to do a thorough examination of him as his father is asthmatic and I wanted to rule that out. The pediatrician assured me that he was in good health and that there was nothing to be concerned about.
Then at two months old, Brooklyn stated coughing. It sounded like an old man’s cough. It was quite heart breaking as it looked like he was in pain each time he coughed. I took him back to the same pediatrician, who told me that it was an allergic rhinitis and not to worry he was not asthmatic; despite his family history and the presence of the cough. He sent us home.
My mother in law recommended that we go to Garden City Clinic where my husband’s pediatrician was still in practice, as he had been so helpful in managing my husband’s asthma when he was a child. I got an appointment the next day.
The pediatrician at Garden City Clinic said that typically asthma was not diagnosed before two years old, but that in my son’s case he could definitively say it was asthma. We were given the diagnosis of severe asthmatic and allergic sinusitis. We were sent home with some medication and told to keep a close eye on him. That evening his chest seemed to get tighter and tighter. I didn’t know what to do. I called my mother who said to go straight to the hospital. When we arrived he was immediately admitted, not only for the treatment of his asthma, but for a secondary infection of pneumonia. There my little two month old baby stayed for a week and a half.
From early infancy through to his toddler years, Brooklyn was hospitalized more times than I'd like to remember. He had a constant wheeze and had a flu or cough almost every month. I would have to take him to the pediatrician at least twice a month and so I had to find another pediatrician, as the doctor was slowing his schedule down and I struggled to get appointments with him. I then found my angel doctor, also at Garden City, Dr. Naidoo. She let me know that we would go on this journey together, because it would be a journey. She referred me to a brilliant pediatric pulmonologist and the three of us worked as a team. I would go to my pediatrician’s rooms and we would have the pulmonologist on call. We tried many different variations of the medications, causing a range of side effects, but not improving his breathing. It was during this time that I saw the terrible effects the medication had on him that I was determined he would be asthma free and off all medication. I set it as my goal. I could not keep him on medication that caused him to hit himself, scream for no reason, scratch us, throw things and act out.
I told my medical team that it was my goal for Brooklyn to be asthma free and not need any medication. The specialists asked me to have more realistic goal as due to the severity of his asthma and the family history, he would not out grow his asthma and would need medication to facilitate his breathing. They helped me set a new goal, which would be to aim to have his asthma under control and to hopefully wean him off all his medications in time. This was good enough, I thought, but still I was adamant that he would be off all of his medication and asthma free.
I must admit that during this time I did a few crazy things, instead of just staying the course, trusting the doctors and allowing his lungs to strengthen; whilst on his medication. These antics included taking him off everything cold turkey, hospitalization ensued. Followed by a stint with a homeopathic healer, hospitalization ensued. After the homeopathic stint, we finally found a medication combination that worked. The medication was still very strong and made Brooklyn shaky, irritable and impulsive; but he wasn’t wheezing anymore.
The doctors were pleased that we finally found a winning combination. However, my pediatrician stressed that this was the last resort, we had reached the end of the medical spectrum and if his chest did not improve there really was nowhere else to go from there. As such we began holistic treatment, we had to almost create an allergy free, asthma trigger free bubble environment at home. We also had to ensure that his diet was ideal; including lots of fresh vegetables, limited fruits and no dairy. We had to keep his mucous levels low and dairy, apart from the fact that he was allergic to it, caused an increase in mucous production.
My husband was so gracious going along with all the strange things I would do to create this ideal environment at home; salt lamps, sleeping with a cut onion next to his bed, humidifiers, putting up magnetic pendants to balance the homes energy and on and on it went. I will detail in my next Top Tip which things actually did work to create our home bubble.
Finally, at age 4 with his chest seemingly strong enough we sent Brooklyn to school. After a month or so he was in the hospital. After recovering I sent him back to school. Two weeks later he was back in the hospital. It was at this time that our pediatrician not only suggested, but demanded, that we homeschool. This was initially a very difficult decision for us but our pediatrician reminded us of the goal of strengthening his chest to get to the point where we could wean him off his medication. If he was to go to school his chest would not be able to strengthen while fighting off the germs and other triggers in the school environment. We were also told at this time that if Brooklyn had to be admitted again he would have to sent to ICU as his body would not respond to the medication in the normal ward as he would have built up a resistance to it. That was it. We were homeschooling.
It’s been six years of homeschooling and, thank God, six years since Brooklyn’s last hospitalization. He is a healthy, active and very athletic boy. He is off all of his medication and only uses his one preventative inhaler during change of season or if he has a flu and he has not needed his emergency inhaler in ages.
My Top Tip as a starting point is to find a medical team with a shared goal and vision for your child’s health. Work with them in a holistic way. I am forever grateful to our team that helped us get our boy from asthmatic wheezer to future soccer star.