Managing Shayla’s Allergies & Asthma on the Road

I remember vividly, some of our first conversations while starting to think about our trip. Our first and primary concern, had nothing to do with what we do with our house while we were gone. It didn’t even revolve around how to we run our business from 3000 miles away. Instead, our main concern centered around Shayla’s safety. We agonized over the simple question, “Can we keep her safe?” What if she eats something she’s allergic to, and we are in the middle of the desert; miles from the hospital? What if there wasn’t cell phone coverage where we were? Can we control her environment enough to keep her asthma in check? What if we are in an area where she just can’t breathe? Is this just foolish chattering or meaningful concern?

Managing Shayla's Asthma in the RV

In order to be incredibly over prepared we stocked up on all of our necessary prescriptions and devices. Short of buying out most of the Pharmacy, we stocked up on our regular prescriptions. Prednizone, EpiPen Jr’s, Benedryl, Qvar Daily Inhaler, ProAir Albuterol Inhalers, Albuterol Nebulizer Treatments, Probiotics, etc. After all, we were to be travelling in the winter time and winter has proven to be Shayla’s most troublesome and complicated time of year. You see, when she gets a run of the mill common cold, it hits her 5 times harder than it would to anyone around her. Usually each common cold turns severe, and that cold will likely land her in the hospital. Asthma and Allergy KitUsually medical care is necessary in an effort to combat a cold that doubly attacks her normally sensitive respiratory system. The wheezing she suffers through is the worst part. It is the kind of wheezing that breaks your heart to watch. Have you ever seen a little kid struggle to get enough air to complete a half sentence? A struggle like a lifelong smoker with advanced emphysema struggles; only this little angel hasn’t done anything to deliberately damage her body and lungs and doesn’t know why this is happening to her?

Each cold cycle usually ends the same way. With each passing day she tumbles more and more severe, at a certain point the remedies simply stop working. One puff, Two puffs…. No help…. 15 minutes on the nebulizer ….. 30 minutes of relief when it is supposed to last 4-6 hours. Double dosing her nebulizer to mirror what they do in the ER for her. She begins shaking and talking a mile a minute because of all the albuterol. Her heart begins beating 40% faster. Head to the hospital. Triple dose her nebulizer yet again. Heartbeat 20% faster still. Start a prescription of Steroids yet again. Send us home with a regimen of doses through the next week. Can you begin to see why we bring wipes with us everywhere we know she might contact transfer some germs left by other kids/people? Can you begin to see why the anxiety level is so high in the winter for us?  02162016 Shayla 53

Fast forward throughout the winter during our journey across the country and back. We deliberately chased the warm weather and followed the most southerly route we could. Day after day our journey takes us all over this gorgeous country of ours. We quickly fell out of habit of giving Shayla her daily preventative steroid inhaler because she simply wasn’t showing any symptoms. Days turned to weeks, and weeks to months. Sometime around mid March I looked towards Jen and said, “I don’t want to jinx anything, but Shayla has not had a single cold since October.” With a smirk, Jen replied, “I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to jinx her either.” Before speaking again, both of us just took a few minutes and thought about what we had just said. Thanks to the warm weather, minimalistic lifestyle, healthy activities, solitude, and priceless family time; our trip had essentially given her a winter off from all the drugs and medicine that are typically necessary to survive the winter in Connecticut. Needless to say we couldn’t have been happier for how spending the winter away from New England positively affected something completely unforeseen about our winter trip.  On a side note…. ALL 4 of us stayed free of any colds this entire winter.