Kids and parents battling childhood asthma will appreciate a new children’s book by Hope 103.2 presenter Katrina Roe.
The book, Emily Eases Her Wheezes, is a whimsically-illustrated picture book about an elephant called Emily with asthma – and the lessons she learns about how to stay healthy.
It has been listed among the ‘Notables’ books in the 2015 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.
Katrina (pictured above with her daughter Caillie) wrote it after learning to tackle her own daughter’s asthma. She hopes it will help parents of asthmatic kids – particularly through the winter months when coughs, colds and chilly air act as a trigger for asthmatic symptoms.
Katrina’s Battle With Her Child’s Asthma
“My eldest child, when she was about 2 years old, would just cough all night in the winter,” Katrina said.
“She would cough and cough and cough until she vomited, and we would get so sleep-deprived after a week or so of this, that we’d go to the doctor and they would give her some kind of oral steroid.
“It took a long time before we got the diagnosis of asthma.
“Often in little kids, asthma is just that really persistent cough that gets worse at night.”
She said the telltale sign of “wheezing” is not always apparent in young asthmatic children – a lesson she learnt the hard way.
A Scary Discovery: You Can’t Always Hear Wheezing
“I had this a scary occasion when my daughter had gotten a really bad cold and fever and was home sick, watching tellie. She started to get really lethargic, and I started to get a bit worried.
“I took her to the GP who said “no there’s no asthma, I can’t hear any wheeze, she’s fine, give her Panadol, wait half an hour, if she still doesn’t get better then go to the Children’s Hospital.
“My mother’s instinct said “something’s not right”, so I went home and packed a bag and we went straight into hospital.
“The first thing the triage nurse did was to measure the oxygen, and it was dangerously low.
“And they straight away took her in and started treating her for asthma. This was a child that wasn’t coughing or wheezing!
“She wasn’t getting enough air to make a wheezing sound; that’s how bad it had gotten.”
“It wasn’t until they had treated her for 20 minutes that her wheeze started to appear.
“They told me she hadn’t been getting enough air into her lungs to make a wheezing sound; that’s how bad it had gotten.
“So that was the worst shock for me, to realise she’d had that asthma, the GP didn’t pick it up, and she was seriously ill.”
Learn Your Child’s Unique Symptoms And Triggers
Katrina said it’s important for both parents and children to understand not only the symptoms but also the triggers unique to the child.
“Kids [with asthma] have got to understand that if it’s a smoky in the air, or the pollution’s really bad, or there’s a really strong wind, that it’s not the day to run around like a crazy thing.
“The book teaches them some of these things.
“One example is jumping on the bed. That’s really bad because it stirs up the dust and dust mites that rest in your mattress.
“So if your child has a dust mite allergy and has asthma, and they’re exercising in what is essentially a pile of dust, that’s bound to lead to asthma.
“So there’s some simple things like that in the book, where Emily, the main character, makes some little mistakes but learns along the way what brings on her asthma.”
Staying Active In Spite Of Asthma Is Vital
Katrina said it was important for asthmatic children to stay active and not avoid exercise all together, but to approach it sensibly.
“For a lot of kids, exercising, particularly in the cold air, can bring on asthma,” she said.
“But it’s so important for them to exercise because they need to stay fit and active so that they cope better when they do have asthma.
“And that’s one of the things in the book, that Emily learns how to be active with asthma.
“I encourage parents to get their child’s asthma well controlled through the right medication, so that they’re not constantly having attacks and constantly using that blue puffer.
“And then find out how to exercise safely.”
Why Swimming Is Great For Asthmatic Kids
One of the safest exercises for asthmatic children is swimming, according to Asthma Australia.
Asthma is triggered by cold, dry air, but the air near the surface of a pool is warmer and more humid than normal air – making it an ideal exercise environment.
Swimming training can also increase the child’s lung capacity and help them to improve their breathing.
- Emily Eases Her Wheezes is available from the publisher Wombat Books, or by ordering it in through any bookshop.
- Katrina Roe’s other children’s books include Marty’s Nut-Free Party, and the soon-to-be-published Same, a true story a little girl finding common ground with her uncle, who is very different. (Same will be released on August 22).
- Learn more about Katrina Roe and her writing at her Facebook page.