Asthma? WTF?

So, our family has been through a lot in the past few days. On Monday, our 15 month old became extremely lethargic, he was struggling to breath and not able to nurse. We took him to the hospital's H1N1 clinic and were rushed through. His oxygen levels were extremely low and his neck was pulsing and nostrils were flaring. His abdomen was contracting with every breath along with a 2 inch concaving in his chest when he tried to breath in. He couldn't even open his eyes and was gray around the mouth. The doctors thought he had H1N1 and contracted pneumonia. They were very worried and he was rushed away by ambulance. It was so incredibly scary to see paramedics, about 5 or 6 doctors, and 2 to 3 nurses looking down at his chart and then looking at each other with fearful eyes. I tried to stay calm,but I was afraid he wasn't going to make it. He almost suffocated to death.

In Emergency, they gave him masks and x-rays. No pneumonia was found, or H1N1 virus (although he could still have had it). Instead, they found enlarged lungs. Apparently my sweet little happy go lucky boy has asthma. So much for breastfeeding all this time, so much for eliminating toxic chemicals from his environment. None of the effort I went through to protect my child prevented him from getting asthma. I felt like a failure and I felt like I was losing my son.

The Ventolin masks really helped him and he came back to life although he still was vomiting any milk he tried to drink. I hated seeing him being pumped full of steroids and hooked up to machines and IVs, but what choice did I have? No naturopath would be able to help us now! I am grateful for emergency medicine and this is where our medical system is extremely proficient.

After a night in the hospital, a team of doctors came by to ask some questions. The main pediatrician was very happy to hear that Mikhail had been breastfed all this time and is still going strong. Apparently it could be much worse if he was bottle fed formula. Breastmilk is very important in preventing and reducing asthma it seems. This is probably why he has been alright until now and they said it is most definitely why he has not shown any allergies or persistent eczema. At this point I was feeling better about my efforts and about his future.

After another couple of days, we were allowed to go home. The doctors gave me a list of things to do to improve his environment, starting with giving away our brand new Golden Retriever puppy. Ironic that we bought this puppy specifically for Mikhail. He could have been part of the reason the attack occurred. I've always envisioned our home with pets, but apparently this is a no go. Maybe a hairless cat someday? The list of improvements was daunting but also empowering. I was happy to see that we have already done much in the way of helping his environment including not using any toxic cleaners, laundry products, air sprays (like Febreez, etc.), synthetic bedding, etc. The organic mattresses we've bought for Mikhail and ourselves are definitely paying off now! As well, his diet is important. I'm so glad that nutrition has been such a huge focus in our lives since Mikhail is already getting the best food I can afford. Apparently asthma medication can reduce bone mass, so he'll just need extra of my homemade yogurt every day :) Thank God he loves the stuff!

All in all, I am happy that our family's crunchy habits are already in place and have created a buffer against this disease. I'm scared and stressed and do not know how to handle this right now, but at least our lifestyle is set up to be able to deal with this issue. If any of you have experience with asthma, please leave a comment and let me know how you've dealt with it and what I can do to help my little boy.


  1. It runs in the family... I have it. It can be debilitating at times, but manageable. Mine got better with age, and especially once I quit smoking (I know, how stupid... a smoking asthmatic).

  2. Hi Rachel, Ashley also had asthma at same age. Started out with whooping cough(manage to come down with it 1 month before her 18 month shot). They say it last's a season, more like 2, didn't keep much down for 6-8 months, but asthma was there as well. What came first...unknown. Tricks we used - made it a game to pitch a homemade tent with humidifier (as teepee smoke of course) cool air aided in breathing. If cold out and breathing became laboured rushed her outside, shock of cold air made her gasp for breath enough to get those little airways open and air moving (breathing easier). We didn't leave her out in cold indefinately of course ha! ha! but you would be surprised how quick laboured breathing had a reprieve from that technique. The good news is she did outgrow the extreme asthma although has developed some extreme allergies to cats, real christmas trees and firewood. I have a mixed dog who has a poodle breed in him. Doesn't look like poodle except for skin- bluish and doesn't shed. Therefore not allergic. Hope this might help. I want to stress this is not your fault, You are an excellant mom. Unfortunately we as a society have produced children whose bodies do not do what they have been designed naturally to do. By using everything Antibacterial from handsoap to dishsoap etc they never got a change to build up immunities to normal things like we did when we were children. We in effect are almost making it necessary to keep our children in bubbles because we took away what they had in their bodies naturally to do for small bugs. Now when the big things come along they have no natural built in immunities. By trying to keep our kids healthy I wonder if we, as in my generation, have done more harm. Sorry got carried away. Hope things are improving. You will be able to sleep thru the night again..right now as I remember we took shifts watching her little chest. Take care.
    Love and hugs
    Cousin Pam

  3. How scary! Im so sorry that you guys are going through this :( I guess the bright side is that it isn't H1N1..
    It sounds like you guys are very crunchy already (yay!) so the small changes wont be too hard.. except for the puppy. I hope that things are improving for your little one. Take Care
    Serena (heavens earth on CC)

  4. We don't vax, use only green chemicals, eat organic, I suppelemented with EVERYTHING I should have, including the best quality fish oil, probiotics, had a natural birth, nursed my child and continue to nurse her - at almost 3 breastmilk is still a major aspect of her diet.

    In SEptember we had literally the exact same situation - I had to call 911, it was that scary, she was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, her sats were 84 when they got to our place. It was terrifying. I was asking all the same questions of the doctor, I simply could NOT believe asthma was on the table. My ODD had asthma but we had fed her a lot of dairy and wheat, this was not part of my DD's diet.

    Long story short - it's genetics. You do what you can, but ultimately there's not much you can do to overcome genetics. ASthma is very prevalent in my family.

    We now supplement DD with a calcium/magnesium supplement in order to decrease inflammation. We have completely eliminated dairy from her diet. We minimize her sugar intake (we already did) even more strictly because sugar is pro-inflammatory. I'm going to start big vitamin D supplementation as well - that should get to her via breastmilk.

    The riskiest time of year for us is September, because we live in an agricultural based area so the harvesting and stubble burning kick up a lot of dust and irritants in the air. The ER doc said they were seeing 30-40 kids daily with the same problem.

    She's totally fine now, no wheezing whatsoever. My 11 y.o. is doing very well too.

    As for the puppy, don't panic. Get the testing done. It's not necessarily the best for these kids to live in a sterile environment, either.