For the past few months someone in my house has been sick.  Sneezing, coughing, colds, sinus infections.  All of us at some point since September have felt lousy. At the risk of jinxing myself, I hesitate to say that we are all feeling healthy right now.   The cough is the big issue; for us it just lingers.   There is a good chance that we are slightly allergic to our house which is creating some of these illnesses. (That’s a story for another time but it does involve black mold and the previous owner’s pet fur.  Lovely.)  Our doctor wanted both girls, but specifically Kitten, to start using the nebulizer to ward off the persistent coughing.

This is the exact machine we have.

Lovey has used the neb before and was pretty used to it, but for Kitten it was new.  Actually, for Kitten it was terrifying. The first night we attempted to use it she backed herself into a corner between the wall and the toilet in the bathroom to avoid it.  I’ve never seen her so scared of something. We abandoned our attempts that first night and decided we’d try again the next day.  I asked my fellow blogger mommies for suggestions on what to do.  I took every suggestion I was given and incorporated many of them.  We talked to her about the machine and what it did.  We talked to her about her lungs and the yucky stuff that the medicine would take out.  We got another mask and gave her a choice of which one to use.  Our second try came and she said she was ready.  Kitten watched Lovey use the machine and then a doll use it.  She even “helped” the doll use it by holding the mask for her.  When it was her turn the same look of terror came over her.  She just couldn’t do it.

I was getting anxious.  The last time my child needed to use a neb was when I was pregnant with Kitten and we thought Lovey had pneumonia.  she was the sickest she’s ever been before or since and eventually needed a chest x-ray.  Getting a chest x-ray for a two year while you are 6 months pregnant is not something I wish on anyone.  I was definitely concerned that Kitten’s cough would worsen without medication.  Honey and I were also in agreement that we wouldn’t force the medication onto Kitten.  She was already scared, we didn’t want to traumatize her further by holding her down to medicate her, thereby instilling a notion for her that all medication is scary.

In desperation I called our doctor.  We didn’t hear back right away but when the phone rang at 8:30pm and I answered it was my doctor.  He stayed late to call us back and talked on the phone with Honey and me for twenty minutes trouble shooting what we could do.  This is just one of the many reasons why I love my doctor.  The advice and reassurance he gave us were just what we needed.

Alas, his suggestions didn’t work.  When we tried to give Kitten the neb the next morning she still wouldn’t have it.  I told the nanny about the situation and she said she’d talk to Kitten about it and see what she could do.  When I got home from work Liz told me that Kitten was ready to take the neb.  They had talked about it all day and Kitten even wore the mask.  She told Liz she wanted to wear a hat that covered her ears and watch a show while she did the treatment.  Later that night we tried again with the the new suggestions and guess what?  It worked.

whatever it takes.  Photo credit: S. Fuss

Whatever it takes. Photo credit: S. Fuss

Since you don’t have a Liz in your house like I do I thought I’d leave a few suggestions below for you to try if you are ever in this situation:

  • Talk openly with your child about the machine, what it does, and how it helps.  I just found this book about a boy who has asthma and needs a nebulizer that I might buy for the next time this happens.  I struggled to find ways to talk about lungs with a two year old.
  • Where possible, provide choices about the treatment.  Do you want to wear the fish mask or the duck mask?  Do you want to watch a show, sing a song, or read a book?
  • Allow your child some control.  Let her hold the treatment mask or turn the machine on and off.
  • I have since learned that there are quick/quiet nebulizer machines that I was ready to buy if I had to.  Without purchasing a new machine, we did what we could to make it quieter by wrapping it in a towel.  Wearing a hat with ears (apparently) also helped with the volume.
  • Our doctor explained that the mask of the nebulizer (which is the part Kitten seemed most scared of besides the noise) is really just to direct the mist and anything can be used to do so.  He suggested a paper towel roll or a paper cup with the bottom cut out.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to try those ideas.
  • Some people shared with me that they had success giving their child a treatment while sleeping.  We decided against this because Kitten was scared of the mask and the noise.  I can’t imagine waking up and finding your mother standing over you with something that terrified you.  It might work for your child if they won’t take it for different reasons.
  • Be patient and persistent.  Eventually your hard work will pay off.

Do you have any experience giving your child medication that might help us in the future?  If so, please share.


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