A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took Cameron on the long trip back to Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth for his annual CF review. We also had our daughter, Eva, in tow so that she could be reassessed for her respiratory issues.
Our first appointment of the day was for Cameron’s lung function test.
He had just started doing this new type of lung function test at his last clinic visit only 3 months prior as he was now at an age to start using the testing machine, “Mr. Wobbly” (called so because of the way it makes your cheeks wobble during the testing phase)
He aced it on his first go, and had no trouble completing it again this time around. He also did this new test that they have started doing on younger kids where they breath in pure oxygen for a short period, then test how long it takes for the carbon dioxide levels to go back to normal. This apparently helps to indicate if all areas of the lungs are being used. He did very well and completed this task without an issue. Very proud mumma right here!
We had a quick look at the results on our way back to the clinic area, but could not make heads or tails or what the figures meant. But since nothing was highlighted in red, we assume everything is still going really well.
Then he had to be measured, as is routine at the start of every clinic. The little fatty boombah put on another 300-400g in the last three months, putting him just under 20kg. This puts him on about the 80th percentile for weight.
I can’t remember how tall he is (110cm rings a bell…) and I’m not sure how much he has grown recently, but they are happy that he is steadily travelling along the 25th percentile for height (which is great, as I was told that height can quite often be stunted in CF)
The first CF team member we saw was the physiotherapist, who makes sure that he is still undergoing his physio techniques properly. This meant watching him use his PEP mask, doing a few percussion motions and making sure we are still using the correct hand motions. She also checked his shoulders. Apparently his left shoulder is a bit “tight” which can cause a hunch. This stops the chest cavity opening up properly and the lungs don’t take a full breath. So we have to get him stretching and hanging (like on monkey bars or tree branches, etc)
We then saw the dietician and gastroentologist together. They were very happy with his weight gain and his dietary intake.
Cameron has an intolerance to fresh dairy (milks, yoghurts, cheese…etc…but once cooked, it’s not a problem…so things like cakes and sauces aren’t a problem!) It’s more of a dairy protein intolerance. We figured it out when he was about a year old and we were trying to make the change from formula to cow’s milk. I tried everything under the sun….goat milk, oat milk, rice milk, lactose free milk….everything….and soy is the only thing he could tolerate. Apparently the protein levels in these other types are very similar to cow’s milk….which is how we came to the dairy protein intolerance diagnosis.
We were told that if kids couldnt tolerate these foods by the time they were about 5-6 years old, they probably would never be able to,
So the team were very happy to hear that is starting to tolerate fresh dairy a bit better. He has normal dairy yoghurt, custards, a bit of cheese (though not too much in a day, or it sets him off all bloated, gassy…and well…messy!!) We havent attempted cow’s milk yet, but he is still happy enough on soy milk. When he has normal dairy foods, we find it helpful to give him an extra Creon tablet (enzyme medication which helps to break down the fat in his foods during digestion) So if he were to have some yoghurt, and fat content requires him to have 2 Creon tablets, we give him 3 instead….which works well.
They told us to keep trying to introduce dairy to his diet and see how he goes. Soy doesn’t have the same calorie and fat content of dairy, which makes it more difficult to boost fats in the CF diet, but we obviously seem to be managing!
They also told me that they now require all CF patients to take Vitamin D supplements as the multivitamin (VITABDECK) was not substantial enough for absorption levels. Since Cam was already on Vitamin D levels, and on a higher dosage than what they normally make standard for everyone, he is to remain on this dosage as it seems to be working for him.
They were going to take some blood samples during his bronchoscopy later in the week to test for other things, like salt levels (which there was a slight increase in his daily intake of sodium chloride solution) and iron levels (which have been borderline needing medication for a long while now, but they are hesitant to prescribe medication for it as it can cause constipation, which can already be a major issue for CF-er’s with their digestive issues)
I havent heard anything since returning home, no phone calls about needing extra medications, so I can only assume that they were nothing to worry about until we see them again in three months.
We then saw the respiratory doctor. He was very happy with Cam’s progress, especially since he has managed to escape all the winter bugs so far (wish I could say the same about the rest of the family though!!)
When we arrived at the hospital (since we had just gotten off the highway and went straight to the hospital for appointments) I realised I made a MASSIVE mistake…..I had left ALL of Cam’s medications at home, including his Creon!! I can’t stress how much an issue this was. Since he had only eaten things in the car which didnt require any medication (fruit, etc) we didn’t realise until then that we had no medications so that Cam could have lunch!
We sucked it up, and gave Cam a sandwich anyway, thinking we would just have to deal with the mess later (without Creon, food passes straight through, undigested. It makes an almighty, smelly mess in its wake 😦 )
We got a doctor to quickly write a prescription for all of Cam’s medications and handed it in to pharmacy at the hospital, hoping it would be filled quickly.
But no, we spent more time waiting for the medications than we did seeing specialists. Normally, to avoid the wait, we hand in the prescription and pick it up the next day, but due to the urgency, we had to wait around. That was more exhausting than seeing the team!
There is a lot more to write about, such as Cam’s bronchoscopy, and Eva’s check up…both are long stories that can be set aside for another post. So keep an eye out!!