Breathe Easy

Julie Buckley essays

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My daughter Abigail was diagnosed with asthma at 2 1/2 years old. It's a common issue in children, but it briefly shook up our happy little world. From around the time she weaned at 13 months, she would get colds occasionally, just like most kids. But, she just didn't seem to shake them quickly or easily. Her coughs would hang on too long and I would often hear rattling in her lungs.I remember a family visit we made before she turned two and my brother said something about it sounding like asthma. At the time, I brushed it off. Later that winter, she had a very lingering cough after a cold and then it suddenly took a turn for the worse. She was sleeping but breathing very rapidly and shallowly, her cheeks were flushed, and she was warm. I panicked. So far as a mom, I had been lucky enough to have dealt with nothing more than a few ear infections.

Elizabeth, her seven-year-old sister, picked up on my fear. She had recently attended a service in her religious education class in which each child received a small bottle of holy water. Her first reaction was to run right to it and sprinkle it all over her sister. She was so protective and so worried; that act of love is always remembered with a bit of a chuckle, but the desperation at the moment was very real.

I called the doctor on a Sunday morning during a snowstorm. I was certain I would be told to take my little one, who had a deathly fear of doctors and all things medical, to the emergency room. I thought by bringing her there it would only make her breathing more labored as she would surely be full of anxiety. But the doctor told me he would meet us at the office nearby. I was so relieved to see him in the parking lot on that snowy day. As I remember that image, I still let out a big sigh.

It was a tough and fearful visit as they did a lot of testing and taught us how to use a nebulizer on a strong-willed, terrified little one. I rocked my daughter and sang to her as we listened to instructions. We were grateful to have someone helping us. The doctor shared kind words about my patience, which made me feel stronger and more empowered as a mom. I still treasure those words to this day.

Abigail is now 16 and still deals with her asthma. She has had episodes throughout her childhood, but nothing as scary as the time of her diagnosis. We’re looking into a visit with a pulmonologist soon because her medicines are no longer providing complete relief. She controls her condition well and we keep up with it.

When I remember that first real health crisis I experienced as a mom, it’s a story about the love of an older sister and the helpfulness of a professional. I would experience that combination of family and friend support, along with the assistance of caring experts, many more times as a mother.After those halcyon days when my first two were young, we adopted a son. So many friends and family members rallied around and supported that adjustment, and so many officials helped to smooth our way as well. When I then had my later-in-life surprise pregnancy, again I experienced not only affection from those near and dear to us, but also medical personnel who went above and beyond to make sure we were okay.  Knowing this beautiful combination of love and help is available when I need it truly helps me breathe easy.

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About the Author

Julie Buckley

Julie is a part-time English instructor and a full-time mom of four. She lives on Long Island with her family and cats, and you can follow her . Her essays have been featured on Mamalode and Scary Mommy.

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