Our story - why raising funds for more asthma research is so important to our family
Waiting for your baby to take his next breath is exhausting. Watching for the rise and fall of his little stomach is agonising.
A sense of relief washes over you as you see him take a breath and then you’re back on the roller coaster of hoping for another one and another one.
Feelings like this have plagued me ever since my son Cameron was diagnosed with asthma when he was just one-year-old.
I can still clearly remember being at the doctor’s surgery. We had an appointment with a doctor we don’t usually see. She told me Cameron had asthma and then simply listed all the medications my son would need to take without really spending much time explaining what it meant to live with asthma.
I left feeling really confused so I booked an appointment with our regular doctor who explained the diagnosis, how I could help Cameron and what to look out for to prevent any asthma attacks.
My husband Wade was a great support and pretty calm during the early years of Cameron’s life because he had asthma himself. I, nor anyone in my family growing up, had the condition so to me it was all new and quite stressful.
In the first few years of Cameron’s life we were regulars at the hospital with a few overnight stays thrown in for good measure too.
It was at the hospital that we were referred to a paediatrician who developed an asthma plan for Cameron when he was aged three. This helped us understand more about asthma and how to manage it.
The asthma plan included administering ventolin through a nebulizer whenever he showed signs of a cold. This would be placed on his face for him to breath in every few hours. We also used a preventor – Seretide or Flexitide – every morning and night.
As well as dealing with asthma, Cameron was also very sick during his early childhood with plenty of ear infections, colds and episodes where he coughed a lot and was out of breath.
When Cameron developed a cold, his coughing would start and my husband Wade and I would be really nervous about what was to come. I knew there’d be plenty of sleepless hours ahead for me because I spent so many nights lying beside him with my hand on his chest, monitoring his breathing.
One Christmas Eve when Cameron was two-years-old comes to mind. We were away with family and he was so sick that Wade and I stayed up with him all night. I had one eye on his throat and the other on his tummy to make sure he kept breathing.
From ages three to four Cameron and I took quite a few trips in the ambulance to hospital when he was just not breathing properly, wheezing and out of breath. The staff at the hospital were so good with us and I have an enormous amount of respect for the nurses but I know they’re working long hours too. Despite me having a sense of relief to have Cameron in hospital surrounded by medical professionals, I still had to keep on my toes and monitor his progress. I’m glad I was close by on one occasion when I found the nurse ready to give Cameron his medication orally instead of via the nebulizer. I did not want to think about what could have happened if I did not stop the nurse in time.
Cameron is now 16 and it’s only been in the past few years that we have seen Cameron’s health improve. He’s feeling much better and seems to be managing it well with a preventor every day and ventolin every three to four hours when he is sick.
Managing Cameron’s asthma has been made easier with advances in medicine. There’s a product known as Prednisone or what I call ‘liquid gold’ that works so quickly. After just two days of using the medicine, the improvement in breathing and coughing is amazing!
When I think back to Cameron’s childhood, I can only remember him being sick; so many colds and ear infections. It has really only been in the past few years that he has been well and his asthma has not been too bad. We manage it by using the preventor every day and I still keep him home from school when he has a cold or the weather is bad. His sister Kristy is mildly affected by asthma when she has a cold. Kristy has to take ventolin if she develops a cough or wheeze.
Cameron’s been active in a variety of sports with the aim of improving his health and building strength in his lungs. He used to have trouble running but I’m really happy to say that Cameron recently ran the Cross Country at school and he felt well and not out of breath.
Advice to other parents of kids with asthma
· Go to a friendly doctor who can explain what asthma is about and has some understanding of what it is like to hear that your child has asthma. Ask as many questions as you like.
· Contact the Asthma Foundation if you need any more information. I remember contacting them back when the children were younger and they were so helpful.
· Be prepared for sleepless nights and ask for support to help you through.
From our experience as parents of children with asthma, we wanted to create a fun fundraising event to improve the lives of those living with asthma.
This is 5k A Day’s second year and we are so excited about the future of this event.
I hope that through research into asthma a vaccine is developed that makes managing the condition so much easier. More education for younger children would be great so that they understand that even if they don’t have symptoms, regular use of their preventer will help reduce the chance of a severe episode.