As a mother of a five year old living with asthma I’ve experienced many scary moments that I hope no other mother would ever have to go through. My son was newly diagnosed with asthma at age one and our lives have never been the same. Living in the desert I live in constant fear that a wind storm will wreck our day forcing us to stay inside. My son is a tough little man that never wants to tell his father and me if he is struggling to breathe, because he wants to be “normal” like all of his other friends; this keeps us on our toes. My husband is also asthmatic and understands what it means to have an asthma attack and how horrible it is not being able to breathe; where I personally can not relate to this feeling, nor would I want to.
I’ll never forget the day my son was diagnosed with asthma; it was a typical Monday morning (if there is such thing as a typical day when living with a one year old). My son a had another long night of screaming and crying due to yet another ear infection, and the claming sound of our Elmo DVD filled our home for the last eight hours straight. Man that puppet was a life saver. As we patiently waited to be seen by our Pediatrician for another dose of antibiotics our son who is usually very active even when sick sat on my lap very still. My first thought was thank God he isn’t trying to crawl around the dirty floor. My second thought was wow he must be as tired as I am from a long night of crying and the soothing sound of Elmo. Once we were in the room our Pediatrician who we knew way too well, quickly noticed that my son was acting different then his usual visits; this was his 18 ear infection in a 14 month period. After a brief checkup he explained that my son was acting different not because he was tired from our long night but that he was struggling to breathe. My first reaction was to grab my baby and breathe life into his little body and try not to cry. My second thought was why. Why isn’t my husband here with me (even though he had a peaceful night of sleep), and how can a baby this small use an inhaler? My doctor saw the fear in my eyes and explained to me that this is very common. My son was then placed on the table and given a breathing treatment to help restore is breathing patterns. I was then given a prescription for our usual dose of antibiotics and a nebulizer.
On my drive to the pharmacy I began to cry, cry uncontrollably wishing that my husband was at this appointment with me. Crying wishing that I knew what the right questions were to ask. Crying wishing I didn’t live 2,600 miles from home. Crying wishing it was me that couldn’t breathe instead of my beautiful baby boy. Once I was all cried out I went to my husband’s job to tell him our son had the same chronic condition as he did. My husband looked like someone had died when I told him the news. He began to blame himself and tears formed in his eyes. After about a minute of beating himself up he assured me that everything would be alright, and I believed him.
When my son was first diagnosed I feared that he would have an asthma attack when I was sleeping and I wouldn’t discover it in time. Another fear that I had was that he would be held back from playing sports as he got older. My husband and I are very active people and looked forward to the day that our son would be able to play soccer with us. Fortunately none of these fears came true. My son has had difficulty breathing at night but I’ve become so in tuned to the warning signs that a full blown asthma attack has not occurred in the middle of the night. If he shows signs of a potential attack I give him his nebulizer right away. As for sports, he has been playing soccer since he was 2¹/₂ with out any issues. My husband and I have learned that our son’s triggers are not caused from physical activity rather outdoor allergies. Desert winds, pollens from trees, and certain breeds of dogs. When traveling we always carry an inhaler along with our nebulizer to treat him when necessary.
I Wish I Knew
When my son was first diagnosed I wish I knew what kind of questions to ask. This probably sounds like a simple and incomplete thought/ wish but I honestly didn’t know what to ask. As a student in Community Health Science at the time I briefly read up on asthma but never really cared to learn more. I was kicking myself for not knowing more and what to ask the doctor. I wish I knew what books would be a good resource to explain what asthma is and the triggers that may cause an attack. I was given fliers about asthma and I had my husband, but I needed more. I’m the kind of person that needs to know all of the details, the good, the bad, and the ugly; in order to prepare myself for what can possibly happen.
I just read the book ‘The Essentials of Asthma” written by Christine Lee, Pharm. D., BCPS and it answered all the questions that I seek in the beginning of my asthma journey. This book is a great resource that answers all of the questions that I had and sometimes still have when caring for my son’s asthma. This book comes with DVD’s that fills in any gaps that the literature may have missed. I only wish that it was around when I was trying to figure out this new chapter in our family’s lives.
Adjusting to Asthma
Adjusting to my son’s health condition has been like a roller coaster of emotions. When my son was first diagnosed he was sick all the time. We never knew what triggers would set him off and if his asthma attack would turn into another illness such as bronchitis or pneumonia. My little man is as tough as steel and we are often times forced to make him settle down. For the most part I am able to control his attacks and prevent the need for medical attentions, but we still have our occasional visits to the E.R.
Our son has been blessed to have a great Pediatrician that understands his needs. Whenever he is having any difficulties with his breathing I rush him straight to her office. Because of her support and knowledge of my sons past history of asthma attacks and respiratory infections she always has a room setup and waiting for me when I call her. The cost of his medicine has decreased along with need to use them over time. I credit this to his support system at home and through his doctor.
My one piece of advice that I would give parents with newly diagnosed asthma children, is to take a deep breathe (no pun intended) and read up on the condition. Knowing your child’s triggers will help ease your mind and help with future situations.