It's Not About Asthma

He wraps his recently-three-year-old fingers around the blue tag of my medical ID bracelet. Plays with my bracelet chain for a moment while smiling at something, while standing in front of the couch I'm seated on, babbling words that I have no meaning for, aside from when "manas" (minions!) enters the stream of words.

He turns and splays his arms across my lap. I reach out and pull him up into the couch, asking him how it's going. He keeps babbling, smiling. "I can't wait till he has actual words," I tell his mom. "I want to know what he's saying." I turn back to the babbling kid. "Yeah? Is that right?"
He grins at me, climbs over and settles onto my lap, half sprawled across the rescue inhaler in my right pocket. I feel it dig into me but he seems unbothered by its presence yet again, so I don't move him. If he's happy, I'm fine.

I think back if his older brother, now 8, has ever asked about my inhaler, about what my medical ID bracelet says. I don't think so. Kind of refreshing, actually. It's just a part of me. The oldest instead has a constant stream of questions about whether I brought foam crafts or the dinosaur I Spy type book or if I have pipe cleaners to make coffee filter parachutes again. The middle, 6 years old with nonverbal autism, has only presented me with pudding to open so far--the only question of importance to him in that moment.

The three-year-old jumps up, stands on my leg. So that's where I get the calf bruises from, a three year old using me as a jungle gym. Again, I let him--he'll only be this tiny so long. He jumps back onto my lap and wiggles his fingers, pretends to tickle me. I start tickling him, and for five full minutes he's absorbed in this activity, squealing with laughter. And to think I thought I didn't know how to deal with toddlers ;).

Yes, asthma sneaks into these moments--whether it's my inhaler digging into me, my medical ID bracelet being a thing to play with, or when we have to close the patio door because the upstairs neighbors have started smoking pot on their patio (no, it’s not legal here yet!). Fortunately, it's not often my asthma bothers me at work. Yes--the above description is work--as a respite care provider. I'm pretty lucky, right? I get to hang out with cute kids (and sometimes their parents), and if those kids see my asthma at all, I know it's only a small part of what they see. And when they have questions, I know they'll ask, I'll answer, and they'll move onto something "more important"--like if I remembered to bring glue, or reminding me to bring pipe cleaners next week.

Because asthma is just one part of me. And because parachute guys > asthma.


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