Asthma in children: a day in the life of an 8 year old patient
“Asthma!” This is the word I have often heard my uncles, aunts, and neighbors whispering among themselves. It took me a few years to realize they were actually talking about me and the disease I was suffering from.
They would often say, “Oh, how are you, my dear?” and then, turn to my mom and dad to ask about my health and whether my asthma was in control. Gradually, I came to live with it and realized that it was something that was responsible for most of my physical and emotional problems.
My usual daily routine is not the same as my friends’ who are healthy and do not suffer from Asthma. From the time I wake up in the morning until bedtime, it keeps reminding me of how I’m different from other children of my age. Here’s how my usual day looks like.
How I feel in the morning depends largely on the weather. If the night had been cold, and windy, I get up feeling breathless with wheezing sound coming from my chest. I have to extend my hand to reach out to the puff my doctor has prescribed me. After taking one or two puffs, the asthma symtoms are dimishing and I start feeling a bit better. Yet, it takes me at least 5 to 10 minutes to begin with the routine tasks like brushing and bathing. That’s the reason I really love summer, when I can finish off the morning rituals much faster.
Starting the day
My mother makes sure I bathe with sufficiently hot water! She is very protective about me. She fears that taking a bath in lukewarm water might precipitate an attack of asthma for me.
I pray to God every day without fail and ask him not to give me any asthma attack on that day. I particularly take a longer time praying to the God on the days we have excursions or sports events. I also bargain with Santa Claus to exchange the gifts he plans to give me with a healthy and non-asthmatic life. I don’t mind settling for the not-so-attractive gifts!
Mom has to take extra care of my breakfast, lunch and dinner. She makes sure I use apple jam on my bread instead of strawberry jam. I love strawberry jam, but I am allergic to it. So, I have to avoid it if I want to make sure I will not trigger the symthoms of asthma.
Actually, there is a long list of foods I cannot eat for my meals. While my elder brother enjoys his bread full of peanut butter, I have to settle for something less yummy. Lately, he too has given up eating peanut butter... I guess he feels bad that I cannot eat it.
My lunch is also packed with care so that nothing from the list of allergenic foods gains entry into my tiffin box.We enjoy dinner together, and I really love being with my family. I have to skip the desserts especially when there is ice cream on the menu. Sometimes, mom makes hot chocolate especially for me.
My activities in school
My teachers know about my health problem. So, they are attentive and make sure I am comfortable in class. They always ask me politely whether or not I would like to participate in the sports activities. I often have to skip sports period for at least 2 to 3 days after I have had an attack of asthma.
One thing that I can never forget packing in my school bag is my medications. I have to take one or two medications after each breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The list of medicines increases temporarily after I get an attack.
I heard the doctor telling my parents that he has prescribed me bronchodilators and decongestants. I found out on Google that bronchodilators help me by keeping the air passages open and decongestants help by reducing congestion in the nose, chest, and lungs. In short, these medicines are my best friends as they protect me from asthma attacks. I also carry my puff in case I do get an asthma attack while at school with other children.
Prevention against shortness of breath, and allergies
My doctor told me if I thought a substance was responsible for causing an asthma attack, I should avoid getting near to it or ingesting it in the future. According to him, this is the best way to manage my problem.
I think he is right. Once I had an orange-colored fizzy drink at my friend’s house and within minutes, I had a severe attack of asthma. I was taken to a doctor who gave medications to help me breathe easily. Then, he did some allergy tests, which showed that I was allergic to the orange color used in foods. Since then, I have been avoiding such drinks. The good thing is I am not allergic to blue because that’s my favorite color.
My daily limitations and fears
Yes, I am afraid by the asthma sympthoms. My parents also live in fear. Because of Asthma, I cannot enjoy the outdoor activities as much as my friends do. I have to think twice before stepping out of the house. I have to check the weather and make sure all the medications are in place.
I have to think twice before eating or drinking anything. I have to think twice before using anything new, including toothpaste.
My family has to plan weekend outings and long vacations keeping in mind my health. A visit to a doctor is a must before leaving for any outstation destination. It’s a lot easier for the other kids of my age! My life and childhood is dictated by asthma!
What does future hold for me?
I am not sure how long these restrictions will continue to take hold of my life. Will I ever be able to live my life the way I want to? Will I be able to go to school and college without any worries and study well to become a successful person just like my mom and dad?
I am not sure. But, I am hopeful.
My doctor told that most children with asthma start showing improvement as the age increases. The attacks of asthma will reduce gradually as I will become older. I am waiting to be old so that I can play outdoor games to my heart’s content.
Luckily, asthma will not have much of an effect on my education. If I take proper care and take my medications regularly, I should be able to study well just like most other children.
What are the risk factors?
The doctor said asthma is familial or genetic in nature. I asked the meaning of it and he said if anyone in the family has this disease, then others can also get it. I remember my parents discussing my dad’s maternal uncle and one of my mom’s cousins having asthma. So, I am not sure whether my asthma came from mom’s genes or dad’s genes!
It seems asthma can also occur if the level of pollution is high in your city. The attacks of asthma seem to come on during the season when plants release more pollens. There are so many risk factors for asthma that it’s almost impossible for a kid like me to remember all of them!
What causes asthma?
What causes asthma in kids? This is a tough question. I get asthma attacks when the muscles in my respiratory tract contract due to which the air passages become narrow. Because of this, the air cannot flow freely to the lungs making me feel breathless. The asthma attacks come when my body comes in contact with any substance to which I am allergic like peanut butter, ice creams, dust, pollens, and strawberries.
Psychological effect of Asthma
Asthma makes me feel I am different from others. Though being taken good care of feels nice to some extent, it sometimes makes me feel weak. I can also see the fear and concern in the eyes of my parents, which I don’t like. I know they feel sad because of my health problem. It does make me feel very, very sad. I hope one day I will be free from this disease so that my parents and I can live a normal and happy life!