Oscar had to go back to the emergency room the other day, when his breathing suddenly bottomed out again after almost five months without an ER trip.

he’s been using an asthma inhaler twice daily since the last ER visit in October, and we had a consultation with the local asthma clinic to discuss how to manage symptoms if they began to appear again…and he’d fought off a number of colds with no sign of impact to his lungs, so really, we thought all was going well.

so well that we put him back on dairy…which we’d dropped, at least in the form of milk, after that same last visit back in October. though formal medical channels made no peep about any connection, Dr. Google had most kindly informed me that a lot of kids with asthma symptoms have dairy sensitivities, so we started soy milk and moved to rice milk after a visit to a naturopath in November. the naturopath was a bit of a bust really – all about evangelizing veganism and making presumptions that any child not currently taking wheatgrass suppositories must be living off Cheetos and Coke (which, um, thanks but could we talk about my kid? the one right here with the tofu smeared on his face?) – so we dumped his willfully deaf self and fast…but still cobbled a few of his lofty dietary prescriptions into our own big picture of what may be going on inside O’s little body.

plain, unsweetened yogurt and rice milk and lots of protein in the form of soy and legumes and eggs it’s been, through the winter, with cheese here and there without incident. plus noodles, avocado, fruit, the usual.  O seemed, January ear infection and the spate of runny noses aside, pretty healthy. at least his lungs were great.

so great that i decided last week that really, i’m no freaking dietitian, and it was a snake oil quack of sorts who got us started on this rice milk stuff – which organic and whole grain and fully of fluffy unicorns though it is, has no protein in it, you see – and oh my god what if i’m causing beriberi or something by not giving my child the milk of friendly cows? so out i trotted and bought a four litre jug of local, farm-fresh-ish homo, and by the time we got to the bottom of the jug, O was in the emergency room with blood oxygen sats of 88 and it all just came on overnight no matter how many puffers we pumped into his little lungs.

now, i realize this could just be coincidence. one event does not a scientific trial make, and all that. but for the moment, i’ve restocked the rice milk, and think we’ll go back to what was working at least for another month or so, and then when i’ve wrapped up the big project at work and we have a little more time for hanging in the emerge, maybe we’ll try those happy cows again. all the while watching very carefully.

what i’m wondering, though, since the traditional medical community here seem largely oblivious or resistant to the idea of any link between dairy and asthma symptoms and thus i don’t really have anyone to ask except Dr. Evangelivegan (the other naturopath, the one i really want to see, is on maternity leave), is whether any of you have experiences, anecdotes, or knowledge to share about kids and dairy sensitivities and breathing “issues”? just curious. and grateful for anything you’ve got to add to our pastiche of a picture.

this province has the highest asthma rates in Canada. we’re by far the smallest and one of the most rural provinces in the country. high levels of pesticides due to mass farming practices are suspected…and yet, we ourselves live dead smack in the middle of the (admittedly teensy) capital city, and O’s only ever driven by farmer’s fields a couple of times in his life, never even during spraying season. the cows, though…i dunno. they’re probably living a little closer to those pesticides, if, indeed, the assumptions of a link aren’t specious. or maybe Oscar just has problems because he was a 36 week baby, or maybe the five rounds of experimental prenatal steroids i got as part of a study while i was on bedrest with him have actually backfired and weakened his lungs, or maybe he’s allergic to the cat or the dust mites that likely party in his room at night despite my semi-diligent HEPA vaccuming…all these things are possible, are part of our picture. and it is probably too early to tell, definitively. and he may grow out of this. if he does not, it does not worry me overmuch…there are worse things. but it interests me, fires my mind, you see.

and so i wonder if you can help, if you can tell me what you know, too.