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World Asthma Day 2018


World Asthma Awareness 

Oh my! So here is it May 1 and somehow it completely slipped my attention that today was World Asthma Day. And how crazy is that given how much my experiences with Asthma influenced my life?!? Honestly. I have had several scares throughout my life as a result of my asthma. In honor of today's awareness to something so common and yet underestimated condition, I'd like to share the story of one event with you. Maybe it will help explain how scary asthma can be for some people.

It was Easter break. I could be wrong but I believe it was 1986 or 1987. I only remember that it was around that time because I was already very fond of my stepfather. We had a bit of a rocky start complete with me trying to bite him and him biting me back which was a first for me and it got my attention. But I digress. So by the time of this particular easter break, we were close, so I must have been about 10 years old. I was off school at the time and I remember being super frustrated because I wanted to play with my cousins and friends but I had caught the flu so I was stuck in the house. I was sick during a holiday break!?!?! Ugh. Already by that age, I had developed into a voracious reader as a result of my frequent illnesses but this event was a bit different from others before and after. I was restless but also so unbelievably tired. It took all of my energy to to focus on anything and just taking my nebulizer treatments was a chore so I slept a lot. Mostly cuddled up on my mom's lap as much as I could when she was home from work. Then one night I remember crawling onto the couch next to her feeling like I wanted nothing more than to just remember my momma rubbing my ears before I died. I don't know how this thought can possibly go through a child's head but I do remember clearly that I knew then that I was going to die. I put my head down on my momma's lap, closed my eyes, and felt that blissful feeling of having her rub my ears softly and sing to me as I fell asleep.

I'm not sure how long I was asleep but the next thing I remember is my mother shaking me trying to wake me up. She had this bizarre sound of panic and terror in her voice that I had never heard before. I tried to respond but everything was so fuzzy and I was so tired. I don't remember much about what happened then. The next thing I remember is being in the hospital on a bed and feeling awake a bit of agitated all of a sudden. (I imagine at that point they've given me epinephrine and steroids which always has that effect on me.) There is a nurse sitting on the bed and she asks me to sit up so she can put a different IV in me. So I sit up and watch as she fumbles with the line and all of sudden I'm bleeding all over the bed and floor and I'm pretty sure that this is not a good thing but she just belly laughs and belts out "Wow! You have some juicy veins, don't you!" Yep. I'm dead and this is hell. They're going to bleed me to 'death' and laugh about it the whole time for the rest of eternity. If only I hadn't stolen that last cookie from mema's kitchen or poured shampoo on the bathroom floor to use as a slip and slide. All of this is going through my head but I am so mesmerized by the scene on the bed and the nurse still smiling and chuckling with blood all over her scrubs as she tries to fix the IV line that I fail to see my poor momma and stepfather in the room. I don't even see the big plastic tent that they are bringing in. In hindsight, I suppose it was all a good thing because the IV experience distracted me from the reality of how scared my parents were and the imminent quarantine that I was about to experience for a week: The Oxygen Tent.

You know. I never did figure out why they insisted that I remain in that tent no matter what. Even to go potty. I felt so claustrophobic that I often stuck my mouth out of this small opening in the front because I wanted to breathe 'real air'. I think the nurse gently smacked my mouth at least a few times when they caught me doing that. I still did it anyway. It turns out the oxygen tent was probably warranted in this case, though. As I learned that week and came to really appreciate even more as I grew up is that asthmatics who have the flu are at higher risk for developing pneumonia which was what happened to me that easter break. I honestly do not remember the exact details of what capacity each lung was functioning at but, no surprise, it wasn't good. So I stayed in the hospital for a week, put on a clear liquid diet and pumped full of steroids. I'd say it was awful but truth be told, my stepfather snuck in my favorite candy: Bonkers. We hid them from the nurse. Best. Dad. Ever!

So asthma. Yeah. Not everyone will have an experience like that but it isn't exactly unheard of, either. Medicine and the treatment of asthma has improved greatly since that time so I want to reassure any of you parents that while it is nothing to take lightly, asthma is also not nearly as scary as it once was. Work with your doctors to figure out triggers and then figure out what your plan to manage those.

Love & Bear Hugs,
Jen

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