i was close to twenty years old, living in Hawaii and JUST found out that i had allergies. nothing severe, but enough to make springtime in the island of aloha slightly more annoying than beautiful. for the first time ever, i discovered MY sinus, where it was located and that it was the source of a great deal of distress. dis-STRESS! and it was another ten years before i experienced my first asthma attack. again, nothing major. it came with a bout of bronchitis that had me down for a week. i may have used my aunts inhaler a few times over the next two days. in the long run, it seems i was lucky.
that luck has come in pretty handy when dealing with the one and only SuperBoy! being the parent of a child with allergies is rough business. i am unable to imagine how i could be helpful to him if i didn’t have firsthand experience. that’s not to say that those without allergies or asthma are of no assistance, just that it provides a level of “comfort in knowledge” for he and i. i have more comfort asking him about his pains and ailments and am more able to help him define the specifics of what’s going on.
while mild for me, allergies and asthma are very serious where SuperBoy is concerned. he has been in anaphylactic shock three times, hospitalized on three occasions for other allergy related ailments, and spent the better part of his six years being triaged, diagnosed and treated in emergency rooms, urgent care centers and doctors offices. i have spent his college fund and any vacation monies on prescription and over-the-counter medications. this is, in fact, why i call him SuperBoy. he’s a trooper. he takes it all in stride and embraces the reality of his condition. he doesn’t resist much (‘cept SHOTS) and is quite charming, as always.
today, SuperBoy saw a pulmonologist! a certified professional assessor of breathing (and asthma and allergies as they pertain). she is an amazing doctor who started our visit with a quick handshake and an immediate verbal interaction with my son. he was a bit bashful today and so we moved quickly into the “getting to know you” phase. she simply stated “i see he has a strong history, tell me all about it, I’M HERE FOR YOU NOW“. and that, my friends is what’s known as bedside manner! needless to say, she had the obvious knowledge and experience of someone who’s been helping children breathe and improving their quality of life for as long as i’ve been breathing and alive. her words brought me an instant feeling of compassion and understanding. she’d read his history (as requested of me with the intake paperwork) but exhibited a real interest in the QUALITY of my son’s life.
i led her through the milestones and major events of SuperBoy’s amazing existence. all the while she took notes but rarely took her eyes off of us. she asked what she wanted to know but already knew the answers. she kept her eye on him and soon asked him join her at the examination table. still bashful, he resisted, but she appealed to his gentlemanliness with requests for assistance in opening some drawers that doubled as steps. SuperBoy can’t resist a damsel in distress! she examined him and listened thoroughly to his breathing (remember? he had bronchitis two weeks ago, and the stomach flu last week). she spoke briefly with a young resident (medical school intern student person along for the ride) and returned to the chair next to me. again, she floored me with her understanding of us (i paraphrase):
he’s a good boy. handsome obviously, and smart. his lungs sound good. clear. he has been fortunate, he’s had some good doctors, BUT HE HAS A GOOD MOM. the doctors have guided you along the way, as they should, but you’ve done a good job making the right choices for him and you. my job is only to assist you further in maintaining a good quality of life for him in which he can be a child, be a boy, play and do sports and you’re both comfortable. we need to change a few medications and tweak a few things and it will all go smoothly. we will test his allergies and find out where he stands and keep an eye on everything. tests can only tell us this or that. but what you see with your eyes and what you know is what is true. what you experience is what is true. ok mom, let’s go over his medicine.
a weight was lifted. a weight i’ve been carrying for almost six years. you can never hear “you’re a good mom” enough. i believe the words but have doubts, as i think most parents do. i’ve been told by family, friends, coworkers and other doctors, but this time it really soothed my soul. i’ve spent so much time and energy worrying about my choices to limit certain foods and activities. questioning my own judgement calls. this lady is a doctor of breathing! and she gave me kudos for keeping my son breathing. it was the best pat on the back i’ve received in a looooooong time.
after changing pounds to kilograms, she tweaked his prescriptions, gave me a list of medicines to swap out, requested a phone book sized list of tests, showed me a short video and had her nurse demonstrate a few things, we were on our way. before leaving, i was given the option to request any additional foods to test for allergies. an option? for me??? i’ve been waiting for this!! for three long years!!! to pick and suggest things that iiiiiiiiiii think could be affecting him. happy happy! joy joy!!
perhaps (at this point) you’re (a little) unaware that this may possibly have been the best doctors appointment for me where my sons allergies and asthma are concerned. THE. BEST. after almost six years of battling allergies and asthma, after three long years of dealing with food allergies and reactions, after years of colds turned bronchitis within hours, years of missing school and work and fun — we have someone telling us that not only could it not have been avoided, but that we have been doing the right things all along. HALLELUJAH! she requested a follow-up visit in three months to assess her assessment.
being sick can be hard. having asthma and allergies is harder. and caring for yourself during those times is nothing less than excruciating. caring for a child who is sick because of asthma, allergies and food allergies is one of the most painful things a parent can endure. it’s a sit and wait type deal. you have to watch everything they eat and come in contact with, while trying to keep them as normal as possible. you have to teach them how to protect themselves and deny themselves yummy treats if you’re not there to examine and approve said yumminess. and if something does happen, you do what you’ve been trained to do and then you have to wait. wait for the reaction, wait for the medication to set in, wait for the breathing treatment to work. wait wait wait. all while involved in a life or death situation.
as the parent of a child with life threatening allergic reactions…. you worry, you question and you fear the worst, everyday. you arm your little one with emergency medications, information, phone numbers and the like. and still, you worry. if you’re lucky, you get a doctor who can explain it to you in a way that makes you comfortable, yet informed and prepared. if you’re luckier, you get a doctor who says “don’t worry, you’ve been doing it right all along”. this was that doctor for me and this was that day.