I have split feelings when it comes to winter.
I love the weather because it is a great time to snuggle under blankets on the couch with hubby and/or kids and lazily watch movies. I have a hot body (I still have fans blowing on me in bed during winter!) and thankfully live in a town with a cold environment (even in Australian summers, it doesn’t get very hot in our town)
My biggest excuse for loving winter is that is easier to warm yourself up, than it is to cool yourself down. I don’t cope well in heat…at all!
But on the flip side, I hate winter for all the extra dramas it brings. This is when the anxieties about CF health rise a little more. You keep you fingers crossed that you don’t catch winter bugs, or that they aren’t severe/last long. Puddles are looked at with dispair…imagining all the bugs swimming around in the water…which tend to be more dangerous to those living with cystic fibrosis than the average person.
It is also when my daughter’s floppy airway act up more than usual.
Due to weak lung muscles, Eva develops nasty, croup-like coughs, which can last anywhere from a few days, to a few months! It is a deep, dry, barking cough. It gets worse in the cold air or at night, and worse again when she lays down at night.
Last year, we were very lucky to escape with only a few coughs that only lasted for a couple of weeks at a time.
This year, winter isn’t even officially on us yet, and I have major concerns about her current coughing spree (which has currently lasted about four weeks.)
We had driven to Perth the morning of our last clinic visit, after dropping our older kids at school. It had barely been ten minutes since we dropped her off (and we hadn’t even left town yet) when I got a concerned phone call from the school asking for details about the bad cough. I told them about her floppy airways and the history of coughs, and advised them to keep her inside where the air was warm as much as possible, and to call my mother in law (who was looking after them while we were away) if they felt she needed to go home.
This was when I decided that I needed to address the issue with the specialists when we reached Perth.
Later in the day, after Cameron had completed his CF checkups, I changed the topic to Eva.
The doctor advised to do one week’s worth of antibiotics, and then a week of Ventolin ( a reliever inhaler) just to gauge the benefits of each individually. He was quietly confident that neither would work, but it was worth the test, despite the fact it isn’t a wheezy, asthma-like cough.
After we returned home, we started the antibiotics. No dramas- we have been through this part before. Nothing really changed. I rang the specialists last week to double-check how much Ventolin to give her. They advised twelve puffs, four time a day. I felt this was a bit of overkill. As an asthmatic myself, twelve puff is how much you have when you are in the midst of a full-blown asthma attack, and that leaves me (a tall, overweight adult) feeling shaky afterwards due to overdose.
Hubby and I talked about it, and agreed six puff, four-time a day should suffice (before you say it, I know we aren’t doctors, and should be following specialists orders) But it felt extreme to be going through half a canister of Ventolin a day!
We did about two days of inhaler treatment, and her cough started getting worse. She ended up getting sent home from school on Thursday after about an hour as she was in hysterics over her cough, and kept trying to lay down to sleep on her desk. This change came about after only one day of treatment.
Thursday night was a nightmare. I haven’t heard her cough like that in a very long time. There were times in the night that it sounded like she was going to vomit. But there wasnt much more we could do. We had a heater in her room, raised her bed head so she wasn’t lying flat and even at the point of giving saline (salty water) nebulizer to help ease the lungs.
Ventolin was making things worse, and only leaving her shaky afterwards.
So I rang the specialists today to give the update. The consensus was to take her off the Ventolin and start oral steroids. Apparently, there is a small percentage of children with floppy airways where Ventolin has the opposite effect. Since it is a muscle relaxant, it just loosens the already weak muscles even further.
She hasn’t started the steroids yet, but I will keep you updated on their effects.
But the symphony of coughs and splutter in our house is the biggest reason why we dread winter.
How do you combat the winter months?