I love a good mystery/thriller in a book or a movie. In one of my kids, not so much.
Back in early November, when Bennett had a cough that had turned into bronchitis, we started investigating the possibility that his frequent, long-lasting coughing had an underlying cause. That post is here, detailing how fun he was on Albuterol for the first time (I know, that one’s going to be funny someday. Right now? Too soon.). We followed up with a trip to the allergist, which I wrote about here.
Both our pediatrician and the allergist suspected intermittent asthma, brought on by sickness and/or allergies (exercise, thankfully, does not seem to be a problem). However, when we were at the allergist and he did the breathing test, he passed (meaning they didn’t detect the asthma at the time). And we didn’t see any improvement when he was on the Albuterol; his bronchitis finally cleared 2 rounds of antibiotics later, but a nagging cough hung around. FOR WEEKS AND WEEKS. Chronic coughing is kryptonite to me, I know this now.
During one bad coughing spell of a couple of days, I took him back to the doctor (this was very early December, I think), but we saw one of the other docs in our practice. To try to get a good idea of what was going on, since she’d never seen him before, she asked in depth about his health history. Long story and appointment short, she suspected that he might have silent reflux. Given his history of spitting up as a baby and his recurrent cough, she thought that this was something to consider.
I was very interested in this angle…I read up a lot on it, talked to Karen (she’s a dietician) and her husband Rich (a doctor) a lot, and had a nice long phone conversation with our pediatrician about investigating this as a possibility. He was on board, given that we weren’t so far seeing success with asthma treatment, and this couldn’t hurt to try.
We did a 3-week dose of Zantac (after reading about long-term side-effects, I was adamant about him not being on acid-reducer medications for long, but agreed to try it at the beginning to give him some time to heal if that’s what needed to happen), and at the same time, put him on a low-fat, low-acid diet. Which is harder than it sounds, particularly for a kid who doesn’t in the least need to be on low-fat foods. I mean, I purposely load his PB&J with peanut butter to get him a few extra calories!
He religiously took the medicine, and I religiously watched his diet, and ya know what? He kept coughing. There were days that were better than others, but the cough did not go away. If it was reflux-related, we really should’ve seen some noticeable improvement over that period of time. And we didn’t.
So we abandoned the reflux idea.
And he kept coughing for the next few weeks.
It should be noted that Bennett is relatively unbothered by the coughing…just because it’s so normal to him, I guess. Unless he has bronchitis, he never seems to be in pain or anything.
However, Matt and I
couldn’t take it anymore finally decided that I needed to take him back to our pediatrician and go over everything we’ve tried, and make a plan for what needs to happen next. We brought this up to our small group, and asked them to pray for Bennett to stop coughing, and for us to be able to find an answer to all of this.
The next morning, I called the doctor and made an appointment for the following week. The next day? Bennett stopped coughing. I’m not even kidding. He kept not-coughing all through the next week, and of course, did not have a cough when we went to the doctor (though, honestly, that wasn’t a huge deal…he’s heard him before, and his file shows his repeated issues with croup and bronchitis over the years).
The doctor and I went through everything we’ve tried, and he really felt that we can rule out reflux. Good, because that was a major pain in the rear. He really still thinks it’s asthma, and this time, he put him on an inhaled steroid for maintenance (twice a day, even when not coughing – he’s taking QVar for those of you in-the-know with asthma meds. Cheaper than Flovent for the record), and wanted us to have a rescue inhaler to use when he is symptomatic. I politely requested Xopenex, and he gladly prescribed that for me in place of Albuterol, calling it “Albuterol Lite.” So Bennett-on-speed will hopefully not be making a reappearance.
He’s been on the QVar for 2 weeks, and out of the blue on Monday, he started coughing again (tiniest bit of a runny nose, but I can’t even say he has a cold, it’s so slight), so I went and filled the Xopenex script yesterday and he started that. He’s using his inhalers like a boss, not having to use the spacer anymore, which is much easier.
So, we’re in the “we’ll see” stage again. It’s maddening to not know if this is going to work, or if asthma is even what he has for sure. But I’ve definitely learned that asthma is a tricky and sometimes-elusive thing to pin down, so I’m trying to be patient.
Small group: keep praying.