two backpacks with keychains, one is thick with a needle and inhaler keychain and the other is thin with a flower keychain

Jealous of Families with Healthy Kids

I was watching one of the morning talk shows as I was getting ready for work, and noticed they were broadcasting from outside the studio. As usual, there were people lining the barricades holding their handmade posters and hoping they could get on camera.

The co-host went up to one little girl holding a sign that said, "It's my birthday!" The co-host asked the girl how old she was, and she cheerfully replied, "I'm 7!"

Reflecting back

My thoughts went back to my daughter's 7th birthday. Were we in New York on a fabulous trip for her birthday? Nope - we spent her birthday in the pediatrics ward at our regional hospital. It was winter, and her asthma flare-up was caused by prolonged poor air quality that had damaged her lungs. This was her 4th time being admitted to the hospital for asthma, and we were getting pretty discouraged.

Her brother (who also has asthma), had already been admitted to the hospital for the same lung damage from the poor air quality. Curse that air pollution! That was my son's 7th time being admitted for asthma. At least they could share a room and spend some time together.

Boy, was she mad that she was back in the hospital! She was even more upset when her brother was well enough to be discharged, but she had to stay. Then she realized she would miss her birthday party!

The only thing that cheered us up was when her first-grade teacher brought a small birthday cake to the hospital for my daughter. The child life specialist also helped us plan a surprise birthday party for my daughter at the hospital. (Shout out to the hospital baker who made a fabulous dog-shaped cake!)

Jealousy of those without chronic illness

All 3 of my kids are adults now, but there are always reminders about how hard their childhood was. There are some moments that make me feel jealousy of families whose kids don't have a chronic illness like asthma:

  • Frequent doctor visits, after hours visits, emergency room visits, and being admitted to the hospital a total of 12 times.
  • We have a house full of controller inhalers, rescue inhalers, nebulizers and tubing kits, peak flow meters, and oximeters.
  • My middle son and I also have food allergies, so we have epinephrine auto-injectors in my purse, in my son's college backpack, and at home. We have had allergic reactions thanks to cross-contamination from careless restaurant staff.
  • We also have environmental allergies and take allergy medicine year-round. All 3 kids have had years of allergy shots. And once, my oldest son had anaphylaxis from allergy shots.
  • We have remodeled each house to remove carpet and any other environmental triggers. We have free standing air cleaners in all of the rooms.
  • We have stacks of hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes for purses, backpacks, and cars. We wash our hands frequently and avoid using handrails, doorknobs, and elevator buttons.

Today

Even though my kids are adults now, not much has changed. We still battle allergies and asthma year-round. They still call me when their asthma is flaring and they are too sick to drive to urgent care.

I see young and healthy kids now and can't help think about all the things my kids have gone through because of asthma and allergies. I wonder how their life might have been different if they were healthy and carefree when they were young.

But, then I see our family mantra hanging on our wall that says, "Things Can Always Be Worse."

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