House with lungs that is filled with smoke. Dark clouds are coming out from the chimney.

An Asthma Chat with Mum

Last updated: November 2022

When I was a child my parents spent a lot of their time taking me to hospital appointments. They looked after me when I had sick days off from school. I am so grateful for my parents. They were and still are lovely warm people. Both would be there in a heartbeat for any one of my siblings if we were ever in trouble.

I have said this before, but it still astounds me that they were so kind, but unaware of the dangers of smoking around us. In the early 80s, both my parents smoked roughly 15-20 cigarettes a day.

Our house was forever filled with smoke. It is really strange to think the solution to having days off school to manage my asthma back to a controllable level, was to keep me in a smoke-filled house. I am always conscious about hyperbole when writing about my experiences and so I spoke to my mum about this to make sure I had got everything right.

Asthma chat with mum

The phone call...

Me: Hi mum, just writing an article for asthma.net and want to check a few things to make sure I am not misremembering stuff.

Mum: Okay, sure.

Me: Okay, great. By the way, this isn’t some sneaky or passive-aggressive way of having a go at you guys or making you feel bad. We know that the times were different back then so, I’m literally making sure I don’t exaggerate or misremember anything.

Mum: That’s fine Pete.

Me: Am I right in thinking that when I had days off with my asthma, I was told to rest up at home when that very same home was full of smoke? Or am I remembering that was when my asthma was not bad or something?

Mum: Yes, and your father and I feel so terrible about this now. I don’t know what we were thinking. I think we thought that the smoke just disappeared into the ether and the damage we were doing was to ourselves only.

Me: Sure, and am I right to say you and dad smoked around 15-20 cigarettes a day?

Mum: And the rest!

My bafflement at their thought process

Me: Jeez, really? It is strange to think that it didn’t cross your mind that it might be really harmful. Because I mean, everyone knew that if you walked into a burning building that if you didn’t die from the flames itself, you might die from smoke inhalation.

Mum: I know, it’s so...I think we just didn’t realize how serious asthma was. I mean, we knew it was serious, but we also knew that you had inhalers that could magically help you breathe again. It’s awful and please put in your article that your father and I feel so bad about this Pete.

Me: Don’t worry mum, I would’ve had asthma anyway. I’m just fact-checking. And you guys did stop smoking in the mid-to-late 90s, so you did act when you understood more about the condition. I mean, I had to nearly die for that to happen, hahaha joking but am I??

Mum: You joke but it's true. That was the real jolt that made us change our habits.

Me: And that was amazing mum. I managed to get my asthma under good control when this happened so I am very grateful.

Reflections

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