It’s Asthma Awareness Month and I’d like to talk a little bit about my sons’ experiences, and encourage you to share yours, whether in the comments or by writing your own post and linking back to this one.
Having grown up without ever even hearing the word “asthma,” or knowing what it meant, resulted in my being severely unprepared for the reality of having a child with asthma attacks. If I had known what to expect, I feel like it would have been (at least, somewhat) easier. But instead, the early experiences with my son, Joshua, were nothing short of traumatic.
….I’m sorry, but I’ve just found out that I cannot write about the actual incidents…I was going to…but I can’t. It’s strange to think you’re going to write a post about something and then find that you are unable to!
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Okay, so how can I write about what I went through without actually doing so?
…well, maybe I can just share what I’ve learned from the experiences.
- The first thing every parent should know is that there are AMAZING treatments for wheezing/difficulty breathing. If your child has labored breathing (meaning they are having to work harder to process oxygen), a “barking” cough, wheezing, or other indication that their breathing isn’t normal, you should promptly consult their doctor. The treatments that both my boys have had were non-invasive and highly effective. I feared for Joshua’s life those first few times, which I actually didn’t need to do (if that makes sense)…he was never in any real danger because his condition was “easily” managed once in the care of the EMTs and hospital staff. Had I known this, it wouldn’t have been as terrifying for me, and I could have been calmer for him. When Samuel ended up having very similar experiences, years later, I handled them much better because I knew how things basically went. I didn’t freak out or think he was going to die. I even posted about his first incident, if you’re interested in the specifics.
- Secondly, there are different home treatments that can be helpful – either while waiting for emergency responders to arrive or to do if the child has already been treated but symptoms are mildly persistent between medication doses. The ones we found helpful were opposites of each other: cool/cold outside air, and warm baths. If a child has croup (with a classic seal bark cough), the best thing to do in the winter is bundle them up and take them outside to breathe in the cold air. If they are wheezing, they will ALSO need to be medically treated, but the barking can be helped by cold air. There were times when one of my boys was having a very hard time but the cold air significantly reduced the amount of barking they were doing.
- The third thing I want to talk about is hope. The first or second time we were at the E.R. with Joshua, his doctor comforted me by telling me that it was a definite possibility that he could grow out of it. No matter what happened after that, it always gave me hope. And things have improved over the years! He is 10 years old now; he no longer has viral-induced asthma attacks, and the pollen-induced ones are under control with his inhaler.
Being the parent of a child with asthma can be scary even when you know all of the above, and even when you’ve gone through it before (many times!) because they’re your baby, no matter how old they get. But, please be encouraged that there is wonderful medical help available and even emotional support to be found. You are not alone!
The CDC’s list of Asthma Resources for Parents
Asthma.com’s wonderful tips on reducing the number of asthma attacks.
Facts from the American Lung Association.
Featured on The Atlanta Journal Constitution