Memphis teen, family find help, community with CHAMP
On Easter night 2014, 15-year-old LaKeira Thompson woke up struggling to breathe.
With a handful of rescue asthma medications on hand, her mother – Wendy – went to work to control her breathing. Unsure if LaKeira needed to head to the Emergency Department, Wendy called her Le Bonheur CHAMP (Changing High-Risk Asthma Through Partnerships) contact to talk it through.
The person on the other end of the call – an emergency medical technician backed by a physician for after-hour calls – talked her through the attack and called her back at 12:30 a.m., then 1 a.m., then 2 a.m.
“She asked if I was OK, not just LaKeira,” Wendy said. “She helped me remain calm and calmed us all down.”
LaKeira was enrolled in CHAMP after multiple overnight hospital and Intensive Care Unit stays. She has been suffering with asthma since she was 2, before Wendy and the rest of LaKeira’s family knew how serious LaKeira’s asthma could be.
Since enrollment, she and her mom worked with physicians, asthma educators and community health workers to learn how to manage her disease. Her last visit to the Emergency Department was in April – visits are a far cry from the frequency they once were.
Wendy has learned that things like bleach-based cleaners and certain detergents can negatively affect LaKeira – and that she has to take her medicine every day to ensure it works properly. But the greatest benefit, perhaps, is the support system she’s gained by joining the CHAMP family.
Wendy is a member of CHAMP’s parent board, which helps connect families living with asthma. Parents are able to help each other with questions they have and feel supported by a community experiencing the same situations.
“It’s like putting puzzle pieces together,” Wendy said. “It gives us peace of mind that we’re all there to help each other.”
Today, LaKeira plays basketball at her church and plans on trying out for her school team this year – something Wendy thought she could never dream for her.