What Can I Do With Asthma?
You’re holding this tiny perfect bundle and all your exhaustion just fades away. You’re filled with hope and love – so much your chest squeezes a bit.
Then, they get sick. The worry is enormous. Guilt and fear sets in. Was it something I did in pregnancy? Is it something I fed my son? Is it where we live? A gene we passed on?
For some parent’s this illness is just a normal childhood illness, but for others it’s a permanent condition. No matter what the medical community considers the illness – minor or major, for every parent who has experienced this, their child’s condition feels major. There’s new vocabulary, new doctors, new fears. And the diagnosis may bring with it a tiny crack in that hope for a future of limitless possibilities.
At least that was how it was for me.
Like everyone, there are little things about myself that I don’t like. Things that caused me to be picked on as a kid. Things that made my life harder. Things that caused medical issues late on. When we had our children, I watched and when I didn’t see these things in my kids, I breathed a bit easier.
Then, the day came. My husband was walking our daughter Rosie home from daycare.
His 6’2” long legs and her 3’8” tiny legs didn’t quite match. You can imagine, it was easy for the walking pace to get more like a run for Rosie. This particular day, she started having a hard time breathing. She began to cry and my husband worked to calm her down. Rosie tried to explain what she was feeling as well as any 4-year-old could and when things settled they continued home.
This happened a few times and then winter brought cold season. Rosie’s cold was worse than any we had experienced so off to the pediatricians. That’s when we found out. Rosie had asthma.
What? We don’t have any history of that! No! We didn’t pass on our crappy hair and eye sight! Where did this come from? What does it feel like for her? Is it permanent?
After the doctor peeled me off the ceiling, we were told that kids can outgrow it. So, we crossed our fingers and adjusted to help her manage.
My husband started to bring a wagon to daycare pick up. We got an inhaler. We didn’t adjust physical activities, but just kept an eye on Rosie.
In cold season, her colds were always a bit worse and at times we ended up standing in steamy showers and at really bad times – nebulizer treatments.
We got through and other than the inhaler and seasonal symptoms, life was pretty normal for Rosie. We encouraged her to play soccer, thinking running would help increase lung capacity and might help her “outgrow” asthma. I remember vividly many Thanksgiving turkey-trots where Rosie and I used a “walk a block, run a block, walk a block” strategy, to get across the finish line.
Life went on asthma didn’t limit the dreams of our daughter really at all!
Then it happened.
Last January, Rosie signed up to take diving certification in anticipation of studying abroad in Australia the coming Fall term. As an animal science major, the idea of going to the Great Barrier Reef was a big reason to choose Australia.
First day of class, Rosie was told she could not get certified because she had asthma. She’d never get to scuba dive!
When she called from U Mass to tell me, I felt my heart squeeze, like when she was 4. Somehow something my husband and I had chosen or passed on (living in Chicago, having a dog, some recessive gene, who knows what) had given Rosie asthma and now she was limited from experiencing something she really wanted.
We know. We’ve been blessed in so many ways! “First world problem.” Relative to other illnesses and pain parents feel, this is nothing. Yet sadness is sadness.
Well Rosie still went to Australia to study. She’s been sending us amazing pictures along the way. One morning, I checked my phone and we got the best picture of all.
See the photo! She’s diving! The Great Barrier Reef! An instructor took them shallow diving!
Yes, maybe she won’t be deep-sea diving. Yes, she runs marathons with an inhaler in her sports bra. But she has learned to live with asthma! Limitations be damned!
What drew Kathleen to Exhale was the prospect of being able to use her marketing skills to help families live their healthiest, best lives. Kathleen’s daughter has asthma, so she understands how allergies and asthma can impact children’s lives. “When my daughter became asthmatic, I saw how it affected every area of her life,” Kathleen explains. “I love the idea of working to create a solution that enables children to live their lives – to learn, play and grow – without worrying about something so basic as breathing.” Kathleen completed her Degree in Communication Design at University of Illinois in Chicago.