I'm a mummy that can't quite stop worrying

Hello everyone,

I'm going to sound really neurotic now, but here goes.

My little boy of 3 and a half (nearly) was hospitalised this March with his first (and only to date) asthma attack. Shortly afterwards he began inhaled steroids. He wasn't quite getting control and got mild breakthrough symptoms so we tried montelukast too but he turned into a monster and became very anxious and started having bad dreams too so we had to stop. So instead, his steroid dose was increased in September and I think he got near control. But as soon as he got control he got a horrible bacterial sinus infection following a cold and ended up on antibotics, and then got a cold for a week, and then got chickenpox. But inbetween illness, I'm fairly confident that his steroids were working.

But this said, I still find it difficult to be entirely confident that he's ok - because he's so young. He's exceptionally articulate, but he still calls it ""tummy ache"" when his chest tightens and if he's breathless in the night he tells me that he's ""frightened"", he never mentions his breathing and so I have to read between the lines. He doesn't even recognise his symptoms as something wrong with his breathing. I can't wait for the day when he can tell me about it - an age when he understands that he is to tell me when he's having any slight breathing problems. I know that I'll feel a little bit better then.

Now that winter's lurking and we've had a few days of cold air, I'm finding that I have an undercurrent of nervous feelings. The only way to describe it is that it's similar to the overwhelming thoughts and feelings that you get when you have a newborn baby. I remember that I used to have crazy thoughts about lorries careering off the road and ploughing into us, or the buggy randomly falling into rivers and me not being able to save him. Really, really horrible thoughts about my beautiful baby dying. At the time I thought that I was losing my mind, but the health visitor reassured me that it was completely normal and that it was just my protective instinct firing up in my brain. But now I feel totally overwhelmed again. I am reluctant to leave him at night and I can't sleep properly. I worry about when he's at preschool, just in case they don't recognise his signs (even though I have explained it to them and have written it down). I just get worried that he's going to have an acute attack and that I'm not going to be with him. I have tried to be logical - I know that I can't do anything more than anyone else who was with him e.g. at preschool, but I can't seem to convince myself. I bury it all really deeply as I don't want to project my fear onto my boy or my husband.

There's a part of me that is reluctant to let go of the fear because in a funny sort of way it reassures me that I'm staying vigilant (and yes, I do know that it sounds irrational!!). I try to do all the right things for my boy - regularly contact the respiratory nurse, go to the docs immediately if I'm unsure etc. I know that I'm catastrophising. And I want to know how to control it - anyone got any tips?? Thanks x

7 Replies

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  • Hello,

    I just want to say that I know exactly what you describe, My son is 3 years older than yours and I still worry most of the time. It is very hard not to.

    Just keep on top of all the medications and appointments. I have a diary that I write down all attacks/illnesses and when things are good. It is then very useful when at doctors appointments.

    I know no one else with a child with asthma and still feel very isolated dealing with my worry and anxiety over asthma. It is hard.

  • I too know how you feel. My son is almost 5 and had his first attack at 10 months so I have had 4 years to 'get use to it' It will get better for you but as a parent it is natural to worry. Everytime my son is ill or having an bad episode I worry still, more so at night.

    He too use to say his tummy hurt but can now recognise he needs his inhaler before I do and tells me so I am a little more relaxed. He also says if he needs more than 2 puffs etc.

    He may not recognise his symptoms as something to do with his breathing but he will associate that his 'tummy ache' is helped by the inhaler.

    My son has only just started to ask questions about why he needs inhalers everyday and I don't. He knows he is asthmatic and tells people with pride.. Bless him.

    I was worried about school but, so far, it has worked well. I sent in a written plan and talked it over with his teacher before starting and then 3 weeks ago he had an attack on a sunday so I kept him off on the monday then sent him in on tuesday with his blue inhaler and also atrovent to have halfway through the day. I admit I spent the whole day sat by the phone incase they had any problems but we got through it.

    I think there will always be something to worry about regarding our children, that's what makes a good parent.

    All I can advise is a cup of tea and a hug with your boy :-)

  • All mummies worry - it comes with the territory.

    Hello there,

    My younger daughter had severe dairy & wheat allergy problems when she was little and did need an eye and ear kept out for her, 24/7. Most of K's first year was spent in and out of hospital. Now almost 30 and, due to special diet when she was little, is no longer allergic to dairy or wheat. Her childhood was exhausting for me because, like you, I tried to keep most of the worry from my husband and older child. Fortunately I'd a great Health Visitor. One day she came to see us and finished the ironing I'd been half way through when I had to attend to the wee one.

    My granddaughter, Amy, is 3 years old and takes after her mum, my older daughter, who had no health problems BUT this does not prevent me from sleeping with an ear wide open when she stays overnight with us. The least sound from her room, even if she's just turning over or a teddy drops off the bed, has me on red alert. In the days when she was a little baby, I'd go in to check (which generally woke her up) when really I should have held back and listened some more.

    I wish you many 'not so worrying' days,

    GrannyMo xx

    PS Last year, that 28 year old younger daughter stayed the night and several times, for no obvious reason, I did wake up in the night and go through to the spare room and lean over and check all the things we mums and grannies check. I'd have felt a bit of a twit though, if she'd woken up!

  • thank you lovely people!

    Thanks everyone - I felt immediately better the moment I read all of your replies. I realise that I'm not over-worrying but am in fact reacting just like any other mother. Phew! xxx

  • just echoing what others have said, worrying goes with the territory. You might also find it reassuring to talk things over with one of the nurses on the adviceline - 0800 121 62 44 Mon-Fri 9-5pm, free from landline. They are friendly and approachable and have loads of experience with the ups and downs of asthma.

  • Reading your post was as if Id written it myself.

    My daughter has just turned 1 and we've already had two dashes by ambulance to hospital as well as countless trips to the GP. She gasps for breath and is on the highest dose of clenil that is possible as well as montelukast. I look at her every night when I put her to bed and fear whether we're going to need help during the night to help her to breath. It breaks my heart.

    I too know those anxious feelings in the pit of my stomach. I feel sick with fear when I think of it being uncontrolled. I wont leave her with anyone at all and have had her by my side since her diagnosis 6 months ago.

    I called the asthma nurses on this site and cried to one of them. They were totally amazing and made everything clear. Give it a go. Im counting on it getting easier as she grows but in the meantime Im accepting this fear and using it by keeping vigilant and, like you say, not being afraid to get help if I ever think for one minute she needs it. When the paramedic and consultant both told me to call for help if ever in doubt, it made me feel less alone.

    I think by feeling there is back up out there and realising Im not totally alone with this (although I certainly feel that alot of the time) I can get through day by day.

    I hope you get some support too, to enable you to take some time for you.

    Take care.

  • I feel completely the same as everyone on this discussion and it does make it better to know other people feel the same. It's so hard to get the balance between worrrying enough to take it seriously without worrying so much that it takes over your life. I think the hardest thing is so often feeling like there's so little you can do to help. I've spent all evening listening to my daughter coughing and crying and going in every 10 minutes or so and wishing I could do something to stop the cough. i don't think you're worrying too much - it's because you love your son so much that you do. Take care everyone. Fiona

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