The asthma diagnosis first entered our home five and a half years ago, first with Ryley, then with Ethan. It seemed so overwhelming in the beginning – remembering what medications to give, when to give them, what to do if breathing went sideways. I remember emailing a close friend who’d been down this path already, in a panic. Inhalers went with us everywhere. Watching a kid breath was not really new, but the panic button grew to the NICU level quickly. And then it became routine. When Ethan was diagnosed, I took it in stride. I was a mom in-the-know. I had this down. So we traveled with our own little pharmacy? Lots of my friends did/do. I faithfully marked the box in school and sports registrations, with the caveat that their asthma is NOT activity induced. Life went on.
It’s been three years since Ryley had pneumonia. It’s been two since he had a serious cold. It’s been two years since Ethan had to have a breathing treatment. Allergies were there, but not very troublesome. We managed to discontinue meds two summers in a row. Asthma began to take a back seat and was flying under my radar. The medicine box sat there, unused on the counter. I couldn’t even remember if stuff needed to be refilled or was out of date. I’d become complacent. No sneezes, no coughs, no stuffy noses for months on end will do that to you. And then, two weeks ago, Ethan woke up with *that* cough….the one moms of kids who’ve had croup at all will recognize in an instant. I wasn’t even fully awake when I heard him cough that particular cough. We were in the doctor’s office before noon. One breathing treatment, one oral steroid dose, refills of all asthma meds later, we were on our way. Ethan’s birthday was the next day. He spent four days at home. I thought he had recovered enough to go back to school, which he did for two days, and then the ear pain started. We were up all night, and back in the doctor’s office the next morning. Add antibiotics and ear numbing drops to the list. He was home and relatively out of commission for five more days. I think we’ve finally turned the bend, but it’s been a rough couple of weeks.
I failed him. I let him down. If I’d been more diligent, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten so sick. I feel awful for letting my complacency build to this point. I let myself believe we were moving past this. We were always told Ryley would grow out of his reactive asthma – that eventually the healthy tissue in his lungs would be bigger than the scarred area from the ventilator. Ethan was not a preemie, but I acted like he would also outgrow this. Even if he someday does, we’re obviously not there yet. I’m giving myself a smack upside the head. Listening to him cough, seeing his sick little face was tortuous for me. Poor little guy was a trooper – he never complained, took his medicine without flinching, and kept the hugs coming. And I promised myself I would allow the complacency to return.