Abby was only 18 months old when she started having febrile convulsions, caused by severe asthma. Here her dad Andy tells their story...
One night, when Abby was about 18 months old, she had a febrile convulsion when I was bathing her. It was terrifying, especially as we’d never heard of this kind of attack.
Abby started having more attacks, which usually happened when she had a cold and would leave her fighting for breath. It was a frightening time in all our lives; we were constantly calling 999, often in the early hours of the morning. Every time Abby got a cold or a snuffle we would be on full alert because it might end with us rushing to hospital.
Abby’s mum is asthmatic so we were fully aware of the symptoms. At first our doctor was reluctant to diagnose asthma but as the attacks increased they accepted it was the problem and ruled out other causes.
In a strange way it was a relief to get the diagnosis – by the time Abby was two years old she’d been in and out of hospital a number of times. At least we now knew how to treat the problem.
After the diagnosis Abby was put on a series of daily medications and inhalers, which she still takes now. If she goes downhill our doctor gives her steroids and we always keep an emergency pack handy.
After a severe asthma attack, Abby has to be hospitalised and put on a powerful drip drug, which increases her heart rate and opens up her airways quicker. It’s very strong so they don’t like to use it very often, especially as Abby’s so young.
We’ve never had any problems getting Abby to take her medication. She’s been on it since she was a baby so she doesn’t know any different; it’s simply part of her normal routine. We’ve never hidden anything about Abby’s asthma from her – she knows how her medication works and, even at seven, she’s fully aware of the dangers if she neglects her care. Asthma is a part of her life but she doesn’t dwell on it – she’s just like any other kid but she’s more aware of her limits. It’s a constant learning curve for her.
Abby’s six month medication review has recently been extended to a year because she’s doing really well; she’s much stronger now. We are hoping they might eventually reduce the amount of medication too.
Unfortunately Abby’s missed a bit of schooling due to her asthma but her school are well aware of the condition and they’ve been very supportive.
My main advice to parents would be to keep a close eye on your child’s condition and get to know the trigger points. Make sure you know what to do and have an action plan if they do have an attack, instead of panicking. There were times when I would run around like a headless chicken.
It’s about learning how to keep calm in a difficult situation and get your child to the right place for treatment. Kettering Hospital has been brilliant – they are always really helpful and we’re welcome on the ward if Abby ever has problems with her asthma.
We are all immensely proud of Abby – she is such a brave girl.