Every Parent's Nightmare
Mommy, I can’t breathe!
There's an elephant on my chest!
Did you know 10 people die every day from asthma?
1 in 13 people have asthma
About 25 million Americans have Asthma
Asthma is the leading chronic disease in children
We didn’t know anything about asthma....
The nightmare started when she was 8 years old.
It was early February. Our youngest daughter had a horrible cough. We thought it was a cold; she had gotten these
colds every winter for years just like most children, but after several days we decided it was time to visit the doctor. As usual their diagnosis was bronchitis. Another round of antibiotics was the prescribed remedy. We followed the doctor’s orders.
But this time, the cold stayed around.
Dad was home with the girls that day. It was a windy February day and they decided to take a hike in the field with the family dog just across the street from our home. Nothing unusual, just looking for neat rocks, flowers, whatever seemed like a treasure.
When I got home from work that night my daughter was again coughing seemed congested. I thought it was best to visit the doctor again. We did, same diagnosis. Bronchitis. The doctor said it was common, not to worry. More medicine.
But when bedtime rolled around that night she was struggling to breath. We didn’t have a vaporizer so I turned on the shower and we both sat in the shower, thinking this would help clear the passageways. Didn't help.
I felt something wasn't right so I called the doctor’s office. The on-call doctor called me back and told me "not to worry, she just had bronchitis". When I said I thought the medicine was not working she told me if I wanted I could bring her to the office in the morning or take her to the emergency room. She was so casual about it.
I felt otherwise.
We didn’t sleep much that night. I laid awake next to her, listening to her breathe.
The next morning her breathing was labored. She said Mommy, I feel like there is an elephant sitting on my chest.
We went directly to the doctor’s office without calling.
When we arrived, the receptionist took one look at our daughter and we were lead back to the examination room. Her oxygen levels were checked and before we knew it an ambulance was called. The doctor walked in and said, she’s going to the hospital.
I road in the ambulance, my husband followed us.
Once we arrived, they rushed our daughter away with an oxygen mask covering her face. So tiny and helpless.
We were ushered into a private conference room and a doctor came in. A doctor we didn’t know. He told us our daughter was having a severe Asthma attack. He was concerned that they were not equipped to get the attack under control. She might suffer a heart attack, or her lungs could give out! My husband and I looked at each other in shock. Asthma? What? She’s never been diagnosed with Asthma! She played soccer, swam...never exhibited signs of asthma, or so we thought.
They inserted a breathing tube.
The doctor went on to tell us she was going to be transferred to a Children’s Hospital. This hospital was equipped to deal with trauma.
They would arrive with their own medical team, their own special ambulance.
We were not allowed to follow the ambulance. They told us to meet them at the hospital.
The fear and worry was palpable.
We arrived at the hospital and ran to the emergency room. The first words we heard was a doctor yelling, I don’t care what you have to do, I want this child out …. Fully sedated.
We stood nearby and waited
Finally, she was moved to ICU on a Pulmonary care floor. They had her in an induced coma. A machine was breathing for her. Feeding tubes were inserted for nutrition. IV's for fluids. The doctor said her heart and lungs had to rest. They had worked way too hard.
For the next week, I slept beside her in a chair in the corner of her room.
Parents weren’t allowed to do this, but no one questioned me. My husband was there every day but we had another precious daughter as well. She was so worried. Unfortunately she was only 10, too young to be allowed in with her sister. I will never forget seeing her sitting on the floor by the doors leading into the ICU ward. She too got as close to her sister as allowed.
After a week the tubes were all removed and she was slowly brought out of the coma. We were moved to another room. We stayed there another 2 weeks.
During this time she received massive steroid shots, breathing treatments and physical therapy. We received education about Chronic Asthma. The doctors told us she “fit the perfect profile” for an Asthmatic.
Symptoms of Asthma:
- shortness of breath
- Chest tightening or pain
- Trouble sleeping due to coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath
- Whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign- our daughter has never done this)
- Coughing or wheezing which is gets worse when you have a respiratory virus like the cold or flu
We never knew
After about 6 months, the doctors deemed her lungs “healthy”. We breathed a sigh of relief.
Over the years she continued to visit the Children’s Hospital for her annual Asthma checkup. Needless to say, we have learned a lot. We continue to share what we know with others about chronic asthma. Her pediatricians were apologetic, sorry for missing the diagnosis.
Today, she is a healthy mom-to-be.
She’s not asthma free but she continues to use her inhaler and manages her asthma well. She has lived an active life playing both soccer and tennis through high school. Along the way we have also found she is highly allergic to a lot of foods and environmental factors.
I share this with you all in hopes that none of you have this experience. Statistics show there are approximately 6 million children with asthma. They say more common in boys than girls. There are more than 14.2 million doctor’s visits each year due to asthma. Ask questions, trust your instincts.
It's been a long journey with some bumps along the way so our family is so relieved to she is healthy and happy.
Thank you for taking the time to read my message. I hope you’ll share this with your friends.
Blessings to you all.