Sucky Lungs, or, Why I Must Watch

(Double-posted at MMW)

100_16401The boys are out raking the yard with their dad. Thin autumn light filters through the leafless trees, making the golden leaves glow the same color as my boys’ copper heads. Their cheeks are flushed pink from the crisp air, as their little strong bodies help dad clean up the mess of autumn leaves.

I watch from behind the French doors in the dining room, the cold glass a necessary barrier for my asthmatic lungs. Black leaf mold is almost a guarantee of a hospital trip for me, and like so many things, I have to bow out. Even as I watch, in my mind I tick off the things I may need later- Do I know where the Nebulizer is? Do I have enough Albuterol? Are there clean filters and a power cord? Check, check, check…

One of the reasons I was so insistent on breast feeding my children, in spite of the herculean effort it required (backstory here and here) was that breastfed babies has less chace becomming asthmatic, have less allergies and are healthier. I wanted them to break free of the chains I’ve had all my life, and it looks, just maybe, like it may have happened. I have everything I need, should an attack happen, but thankfully, I have not had to use it on my children.

Things were so different when I was little. Less was understood about asthma and allergies, and my parents had to rush me to emergency room frequently in the middle of the night. I would be gasping for breath, the doctors would give me a straight shot of adreneline, my lungs would unclamp, I would promptly vomit then faint, they would watch me for a while, and we would go home. Repeat at regular intervals. And again.

The at-home medicines were rough, at best, and caused liver damage, we now know. They took a long time to work, and even then, the hospital was usually our final destination. The doctors would tell my mom to make a steam tent for me, and I would sit in a steamy room with towels over my head for hours. Apparently, they didn’t realize the steam made mold, and then later that night, that same mold would send me again to the hospital.

When medical knowledge finally caught on, our house got cleaned out. The old wooden windows were changed out, the carpets ripped out, no houseplants, stuffed animals or pets. The pocket inhaler was invented, and my world broadened. Suddenly I could take part in sports or play in the yard. If I had an attack, it wasn’t an immediate trip to the hospital. Eight allergy shots a week for ten plus years might have helped too, but I’m still not sold on it, and my arms look like pincusions.

I was steeled for this to be my childrens’ lot. It’s terribly hereditary, and the likelyhood of them having the same problems is very high. And yet- so far… so good. Even as I watch them, playing and flopping in the leaves, I have David send them in every so often so I can listen to their breathing.

The knot in my stomach unclenches a tiny bit each time- and I hear strong, healthy, just winded little lungs. I’ll never know what part I played in that (probably very little) and what part is just a blessing, but either way, I’ll take it. And I’ll continue to watch, from my side of the glass.

4 thoughts on “Sucky Lungs, or, Why I Must Watch

  1. The feeling of not being able to breath, is a haunting one, that sneaks back, from the dredges of my childhood. It isn’t something I will forget. Ever.

    I don’t have those issues anymore. A move away from my childhood hometown, to a completely different environment, along with medications that are now available have helped a ton.

    I don’t rake leaves though, or mow the lawn, or pet kittens.

    Fall is a sad time for me, and especially this year. I can’t get my *umpth* going. I’m not sure why.

    I appreciate your verve. Thank you for all you share with us.

  2. N has horrible asthma & allergies. As you asked your questions, I mentally answered them for myself. I nursed Nathan, neither his father or I have any allergies (well, Sulpha for me, but I found that out only a few years ago.)

    I have the utmost sympathy for anyone who suffers- especially children. Trying to calm down a 10 yr old while driving to the ER, with his bawling- which makes it worse, was enough to make me want a drink. Watching his chest concave, makes me want to cry with him.

    Watch and enjoy!

    Trips to the hospital are NOT allowed.

  3. My sister passed away from complications with asthma. When I married my asthmatic husband, I used all my childhood training to make our home allergy-free. I nursed all my babies in hopes that it would not be passed on to them…..all escaped but 2. My 2nd and 3rd daughter were the worst…. beginning at 18months and outgrew most of it but the sports/animal induced attacks.
    Each time one of my children make it to the age my sister was when she died, I breathe a little easier. Dumb I know… but I do it none the less.
    Hang in there.

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