I Forgot My Kid’s Inhaler. Why That’s a Good Thing.
Occasionally, I wonder how often I should revisit a particular subject. How many different ways are there, really, to describe asthma maintenance plans and debate the merits of inhaled steroids?
Not that many.
And yet sometimes life will whack me on the back of the head and tell me I need those constant asthma reminders, as I will possibly never stop screwing up when it comes to my kid’s lung health.
Here I sat at my laptop the last two weeks, feeling all cocky over AG’s good health and flare-free Colorado trip, and then I do something stupid enough to make me realize,
*Whoa. I’m walking proof the world can’t have too many asthma websites.*
Here’s what happened:
A couple of days after we got back to Florida, AG started coughing. No big deal, right? The kid has asthma; she coughs. It’s inevitable, and abnormality in this house would mean no coughing at all. AG turned out to be sick, though, and spent a couple of days lying around on the couch. By the third day, she felt better but the cough lingered.
Still, nothing to write home (or even on this blog) about, life went on as always, la-dee-da, sure am glad she didn’t get sick on vacation, hope the cough clears up sometime soon, etc. etc. etc.
You notice what I didn’t write? That AG started up her albuterol inhaler during this time?
Because she didn’t. Because why would I remember her inhaler? She’s only needed it her entire life and illness is only her biggest, most challenging trigger.
Seriously. I forgot to give the kid her albuterol.
It’s been seven years since her diagnosis, and eight since she first started flaring.
After those first two years when I didn’t know about my daughter’s asthma, my brain has always instantly connected the two: she gets sick, she needs albuterol or she’ll start flaring nonstop. That’s the drill, and I am a Pavlovian dog when it comes to that kid’s coughs, sniffles, or sneezes.
Except this time, and not starting the albuterol up until well into the fourth day of this cold ensured that,
A) She ended up needing round-the-clock treatments, including my favorite middle-of-the-night ones, something that hasn’t happened in a long, long time,
B) Her asthma symptoms lasted a full two weeks, when the illness that started them turned out to be very minor.
I think AG’s very easy winter and cold/flu season must have lulled me, but how crazy is this?
My daughter’s health has improved so much over the years that I FORGOT to give her the inhaler.
I would have laughed in your face 4 years ago if you told me I’d get to this point. There were nights, when AG was little and hacking away and no one in the house could sleep through it, that I thought I’d never have the *normal* life of a parent, with the kids down for the night and the possibility of one full, uninterrupted night’s sleep stretched out before me.
While I’m shocked that I could forget her inhaler considering all the asthma prep-work I did before we left for the Mile High City, here’s the moral of this story:
It gets better.
It really, really does. I read a lot of blogs and a lot of messageboards and I talk to lots of other asthma parents, both through this blog and in my in-person life. It’s always hard to watch a new parent or parent of a newly diagnosed kid struggle with asthma control, partly out of sympathy and partly because it brings back the inevitable memories of AG’s early, breathless childhood.
You never think, when your kid is little and sick all the time and she can’t even sleep through the night for the flaring, that you’ll ever be the one saying this, the one with the older, strong-lunged kid. Then one day you wake up, you count the weeks since your child last needed albuterol and you realize you can’t remember the last time, and suddenly you are one of those people.
Here’s another benefit of my forgetting. It reminded me that AG’s asthma treatment needs to change.
During this whole two-week saga, one weekend morning I lay in bed, not quite awake enough to get up.
Until AG’s coughing fits started up. The coughing and coughing and coughing that never quits, that horrible hallmark of asthma. I could hear the coughing at the same time I heard the girls talking and laughing, too. Finally I got up.
“If you’re coughing like that, why won’t you go use your inhaler? You don’t have to wait for me to tell you,” I said.
And AG answered, “I don’t?”
She’s NINE now. I may be an Asthma Mom, but she is slowly turning into an Asthma Tween, and I’ve been so caught up in taking care of her health that I didn’t notice the transition. My job now is to teach her and help her maintain her asthma, not do it all for her.
There’s a whole new dimension to the asthma parenting now. I better get started.