Tuesdays are Your Turn – Asthma Kid to Asthma Tween to Asthma Teen Transitioning

If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to maintain my daughter’s lung health. Over the years, we’ve successfully navigated her early, severe years, her symptom changes, her transition into public school, and even a cross-country move that involved a major geographic/climate change.

But now my kid is 11. In August, she’ll enter sixth grade, her final year of elementary school. More of the asthma responsibilities are shifting from my control over to hers, and I’m looking ahead to these next 7 years, to her slow evolution from the tween she is now to the independent college freshman, in charge of her own health, she will turn into.

What tools, tips, or tricks (online or otherwise) help you maintain your asthma?

16 responses to “Tuesdays are Your Turn – Asthma Kid to Asthma Tween to Asthma Teen Transitioning”

  1. Sarah says:

    The biggest one for me is help from my friends… I’m rather used to coughing and a bit dyspnea tolerant, so I often won’t notice how bad I am unless someone brings it to my attention. My second best tool is my good ol’ peak flow meter. It helped me maintain my lungs and prevent a serious flare at my parent’s house this weekend, despite them having so many allergens in their house that I spent the duration just covered in hives…

    Finally, one thing that works for me is to count my breaths in a minute. I’m normally around 8-12. When I’m flaring, one of the first things that happens is that my repiratory rate increases, to around 22-30. Of course, the trick there is to only breathe as much as you need to, and sometimes it helps to have someone else count for you. Counting the number of times I sigh or (if I’m not tired) yawn in about 20 minutes or so helps, too… if I’m sighing or yawning more than once or twice in that time, I’m probably flaring (I yawn and sigh a lot when I hit the yellow zone).

  2. Danielle says:

    Have I got tips? Oh yes. Having just attained independent adult asthmatic status (maybe? I’m not sure) I’m an expert!

    Something that really helped me gain independence while growing up was handling doctor’s appointments on my own. As soon as I was able to drive, I was going to all my appointments alone, with the exception of the really important specialist ones and of course when I was flaring. I learned to ask questions, to articulate my symptoms. I felt better about having asthma knowing that I could handle it by myself. In my last two years of high school, my mom got me to learn to do the pharmacy stuff: monitoring how much medication I have left, dropping off prescriptions, making sure they had our insurance number, picking up prescriptions, etc (she still paid for them though!) That was great practice because now that I am on my own I am doing this all the time. Just the fact that my mom let me do that stuff made me feel like she thought of me as an intelligent human being and not a baby – and there’s a lot to be said for that when you are in high school!

    Junior high and high school are tricky because you want them to learn to be independent, but still want to be able to catch the mistakes because they still happen! Little reminders about meds and pfs are good every once in awhile, but not constantly, and make sure to emphasize that you trust your kid while you’re at it! Seeing as you, Amy, seem to have a smart girl (as opposed to a space cadet like my brother! ), you’ll probably slip into a groove with little effort.

    When I went away to university, my mom and I knew that I was able to manage my meds and find a doctor. So she left it up to me. I signed on with a family doctor as soon as I got to school and established a relationship with the campus pharmacy. Trust me, that was probably the easiest part about going away to school. The harder part was managing schoolwork while flaring and recognizing when I needed help for my asthma. To deal with the school work part, I developed exemplary study habits and ALWAYS make sure I have one or two extra days in my study schedule before an exam just in case I have an asthma attack. As for gauging my own symptoms and taking appropriate action, I asked my new doctor many many times to go over my action plan with me, and he was and is always very patient with me. I made some mistakes in that regard over the past 3 years but I have gotten the hang of it.

    I think, that when I would flare as a teenager, it would have been helpful for my mom to ask me “ok, what do you need, what should we do?” . She was so used to the way I looked and acted when I was flaring that she didn’t need to ask me. But if she had incorporated me into that process, I might have been better at making “crisis decisions” now that I’m on my own.

    AG: I can tell from your posts that you have a healthy positive attitude toward having asthma. Don’t ever lose it! I did, and I let myself get embarrassed and I am having to work very hard to break that bad habit!

  3. Sarah says:

    I feel kind of bad saying it, but my parents are kind of examples of how not to handle a kid’s asthma and how not to prepare them for dealing with it as they get older. They didn’t educate themselves or seek the help of a specialist during my earlier, uncontrolled years. As I grew older and into my phase where I wanted to fit in with the cool kids, I decided I wanted to stop my medications. My parents didn’t ask if I knew what I was risking, nor did they educate me on what the steroid inhaler or rescue inhaler actually do. While I grew out of the “I want to fit in for once!” phase in about six months (mainly because I realized that I’d have to become something I’m not to fit in with them), I didn’t grow out of the “no medications!” phase until university.

    As a result, when my asthma flared in university, I didn’t even recognize it as asthma at first, and once I got re-diagnosed, I basically had to learn from scratch, as if I was a brand-new asthma patient.

    So, yeah. While I think my parents failed me by not making sure I kept on my medication when I was really too young and ignorant to make an informed medical decision, I failed myself by not making sure I -was- educated on something that had me pretty much bedridden about a third of the time for the first eight years of my life. Part of growing up is taking responsibility for yourself and your own body and health. I’m getting better at the “health” part of that.

  4. Amy says:

    Sarah–Breaths per minute, thank you! We used to count those all the time when she was too young for the PFM–I wouldn’t have thought about teaching HER to do it.

    Danielle–I love this whole response, and I think you should repost it on your blog. Thank you!

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