Kids learn to live with asthma

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Features Editor

Oct. 2, 2000 10 PM

Courtney Kelly could teach a class on living with asthma. After all, she was diagnosed with the condition before she was a year old. Nine years of living with asthma has made her a good manager and her mother has been a great teacher.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Because she does manage her condition so diligently, Courtney said her asthma is more of an inconvenience than a handicap.

"I can do just about anything I want to do," the Troy Elementary School fourth grader said. "I ride

my bicycle, go to P.E., play volleyball and softball – all the things that are fun to me."

However, there are times when Courtney has to slow down or even curtail activities for a while.

"Sometimes, like in the summer when I get real hot and then cool off, sometimes then I have to stay inside and rest," she said. "This summer I missed some softball games because of my asthma."

Courtney didn’t like sitting out of games. She doesn’t like missing out on anything, so she does all she can to make sure that her asthma doesn’t put her in the role of spectator instead of participant."

An asthma attack will bring on coughing, sneezing and sometimes wheezing.

"Then I can’t concentrate in school and it’s hard for me to learn that day," she said.

Thankfully, those attacks are less frequent these days and her mother, Marilyn Kelly, deserves a lot of the credit. She has done what it takes to make sure that asthma does not control her daughter’s life. She wants Courtney to control it to as great a degree as possible.

"Country was diagnosed before she was a year old and she was in the hospital for a week," Kelly said. "Her asthma was severe. Dr. Patricia Block is her doctor and she worked very hard with Courtney and she explained everything to me in a way I could understand."

When Courtney was three years old, her asthma was so severe that her doctor recommended a home oxygen machine for her.

"That machine has made a lot of difference in managing Courtney’s asthma," her mother said. "When she has an attack, I call Dr. Block and tell her what is going on

and she tells me exactly what needs to be done."

Kelly has learned to immediately recognize the symptoms prior to an attack.

"Her eyes look different," she said. "They look glossy like she has had her eyes dilated. Her nose will stop up and her breathing will be short and she won’t have as much energy."

Early recognition of

the symptoms enables the mother-daugther team to take preventive measures and lessen the severity of the attack.

Kelly said changes in the weather will "set off" an attack, especially in the spring and fall.

"The more constant the temperature, the better Courtney does. But any time she is having problems, it is worse at night. I either prop her up on a pillow or let her lay on my chest so I can feel her breathing."

Courtney has a breathing inhaler with her at all times just in case she needs it, her mother said.

"Courtney is my second child to have asthma and my other child has almost outgrown it and I hope that Courtney will, too. We do everything we can to help her manage her asthma and she has learned to live with it and it doesn’t bother her that much. The key to living with asthma is learning to manage it."

Courtney is looking forward to the Asthma Safari Friday sponsored by Charles Henderson Child Center and Edge Regional Medical Center. Even though, she is doing a good job managing her asthma, she still enjoys meeting new people who have the same problem.

Sarah Black, TES school nurse, said children who have asthma benefit from being around others who have the same problem.

"It helps these children to know that there are many others just like them," Black said. "We have 90 children here at Troy Elementary School with asthma and knowing they are not alone makes it easier for them to cope. Asthma Safari helps the children learn to better manage their asthma and they have a lot of fun learning more about asthma and the management of it."

For example, Black said some of the children don’t know how to use a peak flow meter and that is a valuable lesson they learn at the safari.

"A child blows into a peak flow meter as hard as they can and it shows what their peak flow is," Black said. "Each child has a range they need to stay within and the meter lets them know whether they are in range or not. It’s a very important way to monitor themselves."

Black said the Asthma Safari makes the children keenly aware that asthma does not have to be a disability if they follow their doctor’s advice and do the things they must do to make living with asthma as normal a life as possible.