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Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Breathe...Yeah Right

I've had asthma my whole life. And I'm not talking about a little wheezing when I run a marathon, I'm talking about not walking from one room in my house to another without my trusty inhaler. I'm talking about the being-allergic-to-everything-that-grows-outside-or-inside, having-an-asthma-attack-because-of-the-weather-no-matter-what-it-is, and occasionally on-death's-door type of asthma. Not fun. But all that pales in comparison to the fact that Princess has asthma too. I don't know if she has asphyixic asthma (where your lungs spontaneously close up for no reason, leaving you to turn blue and gasp for oxygen like a fish out of water) like me or if she has severe allergies to go with it. But that doesn't matter. The point is that I passed on the gene for asthma to my little girl. I can't bear the thought that she will probably grow up unable to run and play with other kids or go anywhere without her "rescue inhaler" or even have a common cold without it causing serious breathing problems. And it's because of me. When I was younger, I often thought about adopting children instead of taking the risk of giving birth to children who would spend most of their lives on the sidelines unable to breathe because of a disease I passed on to them. But after I got married, the desire to have a child with my husband and the high cost of adoption overcame my rationality and now I have my beautiful daughter.

Princess has yet another cold right now. She gets, on average, one a month. The warm mist vaporizer has become another piece of decor in her room and I always have a stash of lotion tissue on hand to wipe her tiny red nose. Runny noses are an everyday occurence in my house. Yes, I understand that most children her age get a lot of colds. I've mostly ignored the comments from people that it seems as if Princess is sick all the time. But when my sister, who has a little boy only six weeks older than Princess and who spends time almost every day with her, mentioned that her son has only had 2 colds this year while Princess is on her 6th or 7th, I had to admit that in the back of my mind, I began to wonder if Princess's ability to read a book about a cold virus and somehow contract said virus is really normal. This will go on my list of questions to ask the doctor that I will inevitably leave lying on my kitchen table when Princess and I head out the door to the pediatrician. But I digress.

Each time Princess gets a cold, her asthma becomes more evident. We haven't had an official diagnosis since it's next to impossible to convince a toddler to "blow out the birthday candles on the computer screen really fast and hard." (A reference to a diagnostic test that any asthmatic or parent of an asthmatic is familiar with) However, having had asthma since I was old enough to breathe, I know an asthmatic cough and wheeze when I hear one. It absolutely breaks my heart to watch Princess's tiny chest heave as she tries to breathe normally. I've learned how to give her a nebtreatment which was not an easy feat as she has a morbid fear of anything that makes a sound similar to a vacuum cleaner and doesn't particularly care for having a mask the size of her head placed over her mouth and nose. But we've succeeded with the help of the beloved pacifier and lots of loud annoying kids' movies. Just today, I saw her playing with a baby doll over by the nebulizer. Princess was panting from lack of oxygen, but she was giving her baby a "nebtreatment". Isn't that precious? Just what every mother wants their child to learn. At least she doesn't cry while giving her "baby" a nebtreatment like I inevitably do.

Unsolicited Advice:
To help Princess when she's hacking away so hard she can't sleep, I give her a teaspoon of corn syrup which helps her coughing. You can use honey for this too, but make sure you NEVER give it to a baby under the age of one because there's a risk of botulism.

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