Watching my son laugh, makes me laugh. Watching him sleep, makes me calm, but watching him suffer to take a breath while he battles his acute asthma, makes my own wind pipe constrict raising my anxiety to levels hard to describe. For the past ten days, I have been asking my son to stop running and every time I do, I feel as if I were asking a bird not to fly.
This asthma attack, the worst in his short life, blurred his birthday and kept him hostage—and yours truly–inside our house for several days. Although he was cranky and hyper due to the bronchodilators, for the first time I thanked God for my son’s stubbornness, because no matter how bad he has felt, he didn’t give his illness the opportunity of a victory dance.
Last Saturday, he enjoyed his birthday party to the max. He jumped on the trampolines like a kangaroo escaping from a zoo keeper, played with his buddies, and ate two pieces of pizza and at least five cupcakes.
Nevertheless, after the calm came the storm. On Sunday we ended up at the ER around seven p.m. and once again, we received the same lame diagnostic, treatment, and discharge instructions that his pediatrician had given us for two weeks. Regardless that my son was miserable and couldn’t finish a five-word sentence, according to the physician he “wasn’t wheezing that bad.”
With all due respect to the health care practitioners, I understand that they must focus on completing the necessary tasks to save the lives in their hands; therefore getting “too mellow” with their patients is out of the question. However, what about a little compassion for us the parents, who come to the hospital with our hearts pounding, expecting the worst. Is that too much to ask?
Honestly, all I wanted was some practical perspective. For example, if I were told, “Look, Mom, unless your son is turning purple, he is not going to die.” As harsh as it sounds, when I compare that statement to my son’s normal skin and rosy cheeks, I would feel relieved. Because I don’t have any medical training, hearing my son whistle with each breath he takes is enough reason to put me in panic mode.
All I know is that the combination of the past days’ sleep deprivation and my son’s despair triggered something in me as we left the hospital. Bright and early on Monday morning, I transferred my son to a new pediatrician and scheduled an appointment for later in the afternoon. The new doctor checked him from head to toe, asked me questions that were never asked before, and immediately referred him to a pulmonologist to dig deeper into his condition.
But, what I liked the most was, that she was present in the moment and my son really existed for her during the minutes of our appointment. I have no authority to say whether she is better than any other doctor. All I know is that “caring” for a patient is something that can’t be taught in a class room and she had plenty of it.
Now I know that his condition in manageable, and that I don’t have to chop every tree or bush I see for fear of the pollen. I already had a chainsaw picked up at Home Depot!
Yesterday, after only two doses of the new medications, my son returned to school. When I picked him up in the afternoon, I saw him running and belly-laughing with his classmates on the way to the car pool line. Then, when he jumped in the car, I tuned to look at him and I saw his rosy cheeks and mischievous eyes. For the first time in weeks, we both were able to take a deep breath and enjoy a beautiful Spring day.
Thanks for reading and sharing.
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