My goodness, friends. It certainly has been an eventful few days. Toward the end of last week, I noticed Luca had started coughing pretty frequently. I didn’t think much of it until it started to have a more “mucousy” sound to it over the weekend. By Sunday, Jonah had also started coughing.
As a parent, worrying is inevitable. I was probably unnerved more than usual because last February Jonah was admitted to the hospital for 6 days due to complications from RSV. That week was so, so difficult and I felt helpless more than anything.
To make a long story as short as possible, when I got home Monday night from work, Luca was wheezing like crazy and his little tummy was retracting while he was breathing. Since these were the exact same symptoms that landed Jonah in the hospital a year earlier, (which was coincidentally the same night we found out I was pregnant with Luca) I called Kevin out of musical rehearsal in a panic. We decided to take him to the Emergency Room.
Once we got there, they ran a bunch of tests and took an x-ray of his lungs. He was diagnosed with RSV. We made an appointment with our pediatrician for the following day, to which I took both boys because Jonah’s symptoms were also getting worse.
Late last night, coupled with a 102 degree fever, Jonah’a breathing became very erratic (he was breathing between 70 and 80 times in one minute). This morning when we woke, Jonah was still breathing too quickly for comfort and his retractions were worse than what Luca’s had ever been. I talked to a handful of my nurse friends, and every single one really encouraged me to take him to the Emergency Room as well. Kevin could not take off of work today, so I took him myself this morning. Just as we suspected, he also has RSV. Since his oxygen levels were stable, we were thankfully not admitted. He was given an oral steroid and we are really hoping that it helps knock this out of him.
Since antibiotics do not work on viruses, the only option we are left with is breathing treatments. Luca is to have one every four hours, and Jonah is to have one every two hours.
As you can see, the littlest doesn’t seem to mind his too much. Jonah, however, is a different story. Last night he was so lethargic that it didn’t really phase him. This isn’t always the case though. We’ve sort of inadvertently created a bag of tricks to help make the most of each treatment – especially for our two year old. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here are 5 tips for toddler breathing treatments:
1. Talk to them about what is about to happen. With Jonah, we’ve found that explaining everything to him beforehand really helps in any situation. Before each treatment, we sit down and we talk about how we are going to use the medicine to help him feel better. I remind him about the loud noise, reassure him as much as possible, and explain that the medicine is going to help him to feel better.
2. Involve them in the process. Our nebulizer is a child-friendly seal named Sami. He loves sitting beside Sami, and we even talk to him sometimes. I allow Jonah to help me squeeze the albuterol into the canister and his job is to turn Sami on. He absolutely hates wearing the mask (even though that is the most effective way to get the medicine into his system), but we always try to start the treatments in the mask. Sometimes we last a few minutes, and sometimes we last longer. We go as long as he will tolerate it before we switch methods.
3. Keep them occupied. We try and make the iPad a special incentive during breathing treatments. He is really into educational games at the moment, and we’ve had great success in letting him play a few games while getting his treatment. Our latest discovery is Jonah’s love of Play-Doh. Offering to let him sit and play with it during treatment times has also been very successful. Some other ideas are to turn on a special television show, color a page in a coloring book, read a story together, or even hold a special stuffed animal.
4. Take turns. Before we even start the treatment, we make a big deal about everyone getting a turn. Usually we’ll give Luca his treatment first and Jonah will quickly say “Jonah’s turn!”. If he is being especially resistant, we’ll all take a (pretend) turn and allow Jonah to give us the treatment before we actually turn it on for real.
5. Be encouraging. If your child is doing a great job of sitting still, tell them! Even when he’s feeling miserable, he’ll crack a larger than life smile if we tell him how brave he is being. If your child is struggling, it’s so important to speak calmly. The minute I start to get worked up, Jonah can sense it and then we’re definitely back at square one.
Have you ever given a breathing treatment? What tricks do you have up your sleeve? If you are the praying type, could you spare a few for the boys? Thank you so much!