A few days ago, my husband and I were watching TV when we saw a commercial for the National Jewish Health, the #1 respiratory hospital in the U.S., which happens to be right here in Denver, where we live. The commercial featured a little boy who’s playing outside and all of a sudden has an asthma attack. My husband immediately and instinctively put his hand over his chest and confessed that even now, more than 25 years after outgrowing asthma, he still has a hard time watching someone gasping for air.
Our almost 5-year-old daughter was diagnosed with asthma when she was 3. I kind of hated my husband a bit for passing this on to her, as it’s believed that asthma is hereditary. With time I learned that, either way, irritants – such as air pollution – could trigger asthma attacks even in children who didn’t inherit it from their parents. At my daughter’s asthma specialist’s office, I was taught not only how to use a nebulizer, but also how to use an inhaler with rescue medicine in case of an emergency.
For months I trembled every time I thought about the possibility of my baby girl being unable to breath and needing to be rushed to the emergency room. I spent countless hours doing research online and joining forum groups of parents with asthmatic children. As time went by and my daughter’s asthma seemed to be under control, I started feeling more relaxed. I mean she’s had her share of respiratory illnesses, which have required the use of the nebulizer for a good three weeks. But I guess that, in the grand scheme of things, we can safely say we’ve been very lucky not to go through a full-blown asthma attack with her.
However, listening to my husband describe how it feels to go through one was a clear reminder that anything is still possible when it comes to our daughter. I’ve never even seen what an asthma attack looks like or heard what it sounds like, but my husband’s description makes it sound terrifying, especially for a small child.
This is what he told me after we watched the asthma commercial:
“When I hear somebody gasping for air or the high pitch sound of somebody who’s having difficulty breathing, in a matter of seconds, I’m transported to the time when I used to get asthma attacks as a child. It’s like, all of a sudden, I need more air to fill my lungs and no matter how hard I inhale, it seems to not be enough. Normally, when you get an asthma attack like the ones I did, you cough so much that you think it’s never going to end. I can remember going outside and feeling the air blow, but no matter how hard I tried, it never felt like I could get enough of it.”
I never ever want our daughter to go through anything like that. And so I will do everything in my power to make ensure that the air she breathes is as clean as possible.
Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. We need your voice! If you haven’t already, please email the EPA to show your support of the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule. Thank you!