teddy bear wearing a hospital gown

1st Time With a Kid in The Hospital?

Life doesn't always go as planned. Especially when you have asthma. Or kids with asthma.

As a mom to 3 grown children with asthma (who were hospitalized 12 times when younger), I know a thing or two about unexpected hospital stays! So when my friend ended up in the hospital with her young daughter (who was just diagnosed with asthma and pneumonia), she knew who to text for help! I'm not just a mom with asthma who has 3 grown children with asthma, I am also a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C). So it's asthma all day every day for me.

There are a few things I wish people would have told me:

  • When should you take your child to the ER? Nemours hospital has a webpage called, "When To Go To The ER If Your Child Has Asthma."  Bookmark the page! Or print it out and keep it in your purse.
  • Trust your instinct as a parent. You know your child and when something is REALLY wrong with them, especially when they have asthma. Sometimes, I knew something was wrong, but not sure what. I would tell the ER doc, "Something is wrong, I just can't put my finger on it."
  • Ask questions! What do you want me to watch for? How do I know if they are getting better or worse? What is that pill? Is that the right dose for her age? (One time, when my daughter was 5 and in the hospital for asthma and pneumonia, the new inexperienced Respiratory Therapist gave my daughter the ADULT dose of Albuterol for her breathing treatment.) Not kidding. Her heart went crazy, it was a scary time!
  • Bring things from home for your child. Her favorite blankie, stuffed animal, favorite video, e etc. During one hospitalization, my 5-year-old daughter was in her Snow White phase. We watched it over. And over. And over. And over. 13 years later, I still have it memorized....
  • They usually have a big armchair (or loveseat) next to the bed. Did you know that they actually turn into a very narrow bed so you can stay by your child's side?
  • They can get things for you as a parent to make your stay more comfortable. One night after work, my son wasn't doing well, so I rushed him to the ER. I was still wearing a blouse, skirt and high heels from work. The nurse offered a pair of scrubs and slippers to make my stay more comfortable. She also gave me a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Say yes! When the nurse asks if they can get you anything, say yes! Dr. Pepper, please! I need some caffeine! Or do you have some crackers and juice? The nurses were always willing to bring us a snack along with one for our child. Once again, that allowed me to stay by my child's bedside until my husband could come and trade places.
  • Let your friends, neighbors and kid's teachers know. I had friends drop off goody bags at the hospital with magazines, gum, and chocolate. Neighbors picked up and dropped off my other kids at school. And teachers who gave a little extra love and attention to my other kids while I was at the hospital with another child. (I just got teary-eyed thinking about one of my daughter's teachers who brought a cake to the hospital when she was stuck there for her 7th birthday!)

Take a deep breath, you can do this! And remember, ask for help! It's not easy having a child in the hospital, so rally your friends, family, neighbors, and your kids' teachers!

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