At night, I sit in Max’s dimly lit room, watching his chest go up and down as I count his breaths. I count once, but I’m still worried. So I count again. And again. As he sleeps, I check his oxygen level with a cheap monitor I bought at Walgreens. Sometimes, I even listen to his lungs with a stethoscope. But I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know what I’m listening for. Then I go to sleep for a few hours before I wake up and do it all over again.
In the morning, I run through the plan in my head. Two puffs of this medicine and four puffs of that one. Give him the steroid. I remember trying to explain to his grandma that the steroids make him crazy. I also think about how I’m going to explain to him that he can’t go to the arcade with his brother because he can’t be exposed to any germs right now.
Because Max has asthma which makes him just a little bit different.
Asthma is not uncommon. Anyone reading this has heard of it. Yet, I wonder if people without asthma in their lives know what it actually means for a child to face asthma every day. For Max, it’s been a life-or-death experience. Asthma has landed him in the hospital a few times. Once it was so bad he was on life support. Something called an ECMO machine. It’s a lung bypass machine. Or, in hospital terms, “The Last Option”.
So, yeah. Asthma is scary.
Since Max was born I’ve had to learn the difference between rescue inhalers and maintenance inhalers. I have learned what pulmonology means. I’ve learned how long it takes to get to the emergency room from my house. And, if you tell the doctors your kid can’t breathe, they’ll see him right away.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that asthma is not going away any time soon. Max will have to spend a lifetime worrying about catching his breath. Through all of it I admire his strength. Max is only 6 years old. So little to have suffered so much. My hope is he will be all the tougher for it.
Asthma is a frightening, debilitating disease. It is our reality. I just pray some day we will be able to change that.
Submitted by Emily D.