**This post is unsolicited honesty about our journey. It is not medical advise but our story.
In July 2016 we embarked on a new journey to help Lillian’s move toward health and wellness in dealing with Reactive Airway. I wrote about it here.
That July rocked me to my very core, I was enraged and so very grief filled that my child was dealing with a disease that seemed to strike without warning. Our house felt like we were walking on eggshells, waiting for the next virus to send us into the emergency room. Although she had periods of control before, we had never seen an attack of this magnitude and adding more medications and “waiting” did not seem like the right answer for her either.
Do not get me wrong, we medicated her. We followed every order our Dr gave us to the letter; I wanted her to live and I did not want her to suffer, we knew she was controlled on the medications but what I did do with this grinding, gnawing sensation ripping through me was hit the books.
I fell down the research wormhole into reactive airway and all it entails. I read about personal accounts from all over the world, the impacts of the environment, virus’, activity and chemicals on the lungs and airway. I read about Dr’s that are forefront in their research and what the different approaches are in treatment. I found my Dr’s treatment model and why he prescribes to it. I added myself to every forum and sat lurking reading every comment, every care plan, every child’s trip to the emergency room and how it was handled. I read about resident Dr’s that get it and Pulmonologists that did not. I read about babies that have died because treatment is not enough and about desperate parents searching for answers. I found resolve in knowing I was not alone and after nearly a full month of pure consumption of it all a pattern emerged.
It all started with a scientist that found decreased levels of asthma and reactive airway in children that lived on a clean, salt ocean. That one study and I began to pull the thread. Personal accounts of parents that relocate their children to the ocean and asthma symptoms disappear. The European treatment model of asthma and reactive airway includes spending time in salt caves for salt therapy for control of symptoms instead of steroids.
At first I could not believe what I was reading. Salt therapy instead of steroids? What on earth is salt therapy?
Salt Therapy is a treatment in where you spend time in a salt cave, natural or human made, where low concentrations of salt can enter the lungs and dry up mucus and overtime decrease the inflammation associated with asthma and reactive airway. To our luck, we happened to have a certified Speleotherapy Clinic about 40 mins from our home. In July 2016 I made a consultation appointment for us and took Lillian by the hand and walked in. Right as I pulled the door open, I glance to the right and see a large Eastern Redbud (like Ava’s Tree) right beside the door and had to hold back the tears.
Maybe this would be a good thing? Maybe a wink from Ava?
The treatment would be lengthy, over 14 weeks of 1 hour sessions and costly. It could be done without changing her medications and they warned me heavily of the regression she may have, after 6 weeks or so she could start having reactive airway attacks and we were to follow our protocol and to continue treatment to the full 14 weeks to see the results.
Guys. At first I thought this is a scam. Nearly 2 grand in treatments, 80 mins round trip for one hour sessions of sitting in a tiny room with my kid, playing toys to have her get worse and ONLY after they have all my money she will be better?
And then I asked myself if I was willing to pay 2 grand on a chance to help her. On a chance this was right. On a chance this would stop the attacks and the slow down the medicine and help her breathe better.
I signed on the dotted line. I signed it fast and we went for it.
For 14 weeks, from mid July 2016 forward once a week we passed by that Redbud tree on our way to Salt Therapy and I silently begged Ava to help her sister. She never had a hard regression like they warned. She had an increase in coughing but not an attack. It was cold in the room, the therapy is temperature controlled and in the heat of the summer we would bundle up and read books, and play on the crushed salt floor together. The entire room floor was a sandbox of salt, which Lillian thought was the most fun toy of all. There are no windows with dark salt block walls, a comfy sofa on the back wall and blankets to curl up with. There were no electronics allowed so it was our time to just be the two of us, or maybe another child and parent would be in for treatment and we could quietly socialize. I could taste the salt in my mouth and my sinus’ reacted. I had salt dust on my clothes and every time I could feel my lungs opening and wonder what she was feeling as she played dump truck or dollies.
I now know what she was feeling.
Lillian has not had ONE reactive airway attack since June 2016. Not one.
She has had a croup attack (which is upper airway and different) but not ONE reactive airway attack. *touch wood* *throw salt* *spin around three times and spit*
In May 2017 her Pulmonologist said to me, “well, let’s take her off of all medications,” and we did. I cried the entire way home from that Dr’s appointment with relief and joy. Since May she has been clear and the real test will come with the first major unmedicated head cold that she has. Since the salt therapy when she would get a head cold she never reacted and had an attack. That alone to us was miraculous. It was just a cold. JUST A COLD! We have never had JUST A COLD. I could finally understand how people can have their kids get sick and feel indifferent about it. This fall is her first fall unmedicated since her diagnosis in 2014, her second fall after salt therapy treatment and the results are showing.
She no longer snores.
She no longer bed wets.
She no longer has crippling reactive airway attacks with virus’.
She no longer takes a MONTH to get congestion out of her chest after each cold.
She no longer stops running and playing because she says she can’t breathe.
She no longer has this chronic, dry cough or throat clearing.
I no longer have a sinus infection each and every time I have a head cold, a fantastic bonus of accompanying her to salt therapy each week.
And the only thing that has changed in our world is Salt Therapy.
I feel so fortunate we have a certified clinic near our house and YES that 2 and a half hour adventure once a week was not my favourite thing to do. But I would do it again and again and again to see her this well.
So now we hold our breath once more. May this winter be gentle and attack free. If it isn’t I know the treatment plan our Dr will want us on, and I know I will be packing her up once more for maintenance sessions at Salt Therapy the very next day. This year and 3 months of being attack free has been some of the most wonderful I know of and I hope and beg the universe for many, many more.
And I am so very thankful for Salt Therapy.