Chloe has been on regular inhalers and treatment for breathing issues since 5 months old, and has had to endure lots of hospital admissions, countless tests, appointments and days off preschool. She was diagnosed with asthma at 2 years old, which began as terrible and recurring bronchiolitis as a baby.
Chloe was a few months shy of two years old when we discovered she was suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea (enlarged adenoids and tonsils to the point they were obstructing her airways as she slept.) Chloe has never been a fantastic sleeper, but around 18 months old she became progressively worse and started snoring so loud we could hear her from the next room. I was shattered from her constant waking and she was too, waking up in the mornings tired and often grumpy. It was when she woke up often gasping for air and sweating that I knew something wasn’t right. Her development was starting to suffer, her speech was becoming delayed and she was having issues eating and gaining weight.
It was when she woke up gasping for air and sweating that I knew something wasn’t right.
It took numerous doctors’ visits and 2 public ENT referrals, the first of which was rejected by the health board due to lack of evidence. Chloe had already had a rough start to life with numerous breathing issues requiring frequent hospital treatment and oral steroids on which we were under the care of a paediatrician for, but she was unable to speed up the ENT process for us.
In the end we decided to book an appointment with a private ENT specialist which turned out to be the best decision we could make - Chloe was seen within 5 days of me calling them. It took the ENT doctor less than 5 minutes to confirm that Chloe had obstructive sleep apnoea and booked her in to have her tonsils and adenoids removed on the public surgery waiting list. Chloe received her operation three months later in March 2015. Her tonsils and adenoids were very large. After about ten days spent recovering, it was immediately evident she was eating better and the snoring had gone, no longer gasping and no longer stopping breathing during sleep. She was a very different child, and we can rest easy now that her upper airways are no longer obstructing her breathing and her development has come along amazingly well. She has been cleared from the speech therapist now, and is growing at a rate that doctors are happy with.
Chloe is now 3.5 years old and although she still suffers with respiratory issues and received a diagnosis of brittle asthma (which often sees her in urgent care or hospital requiring treatment for frequent bad attacks) she is a happy, active and chatty wee girl. Chloe loves swimming and spending time at the beach and is a participant of ”beachkidz”, a programme special to Tauranga that teaches pre-schoolers about beach and water safety before they move onto junior surf lifesaving at the local surf club. She is described by many friends and family as a “trooper” as she just keeps going despite her condition. Despite having a very assertive nature, Chloe is often very kind and caring, always looking after her “baby dolls” and her younger peers at preschool.
She is now able to start to recognise her symptoms, and when she needs her inhaler she likes to help administer the puffer by helping to press the button and counts her breaths. She often gets comments from nurses in hospital how well she takes her inhaler! As her mother I am proud of how she is embracing her condition and knows how important it is to take her medications.
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Renarda Hooper talks about her journey with her daughter, Areiawa, and the challenges of diagnosing and treating asthma in babies and young children.