Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Banishing the Big Bad Wolf

Today I threw away this little backpack. It might not seem like anything special, and considered as a financial investment, it certainly isn't. This bag was a "free gift" that came with a subscription to one of those children's magazines, like Highlights or Ladybug. It wasn't something I purchased with care, or a gift from a loved one, yet when I threw away this bag today, I almost shed a sentimental tear.

This is the bag that held Zaya's nebulizer for the last nine years. It fit perfectly, with the machine in the main pocket and the various attachments and medications in those pouches on the sides. It was never used for anything else, and it performed its function admirably, for all its ignoble beginnings.

Zaya was nine months old when he had his first asthma attack, and I think I can honestly say it was one of the scariest moments of motherhood. I went in to find him in his crib, coughing strangely and wheezing hard. I called the doctor on his home phone, and he could hear Zaya in the background. "Take him the emergency room. Now." We drove the 15 miles into town, and my little baby received his first breathing treatments from nice nurses who assured us that this was very common, and not really a big deal.

They were right. It was (is) very common, and not really a big deal, but for many years after that, we dragged our own personal nebulizer around with us on trips, to family events, and eventually to his school room when the asthma would be likely to flare up. He always took his treatments so well and calmly, and I was very thankful for the technology that allowed us to at least do something, even if, occasionally, it wasn't as effective as I might have wished.

It's been several years now since we've needed the nebulizer. He's old enough to use an inhaler if he feels the need, but he hasn't even needed that for a blessedly long time. (Several months!) I think Zaya may be one of those children who actually "outgrow" their asthma, or at least the worst of the attacks.

I realize that asthma, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing serious. There are mothers out there at this very moment who are watching their children suffer in ways that I can only imagine. I pray for them, and would give them all a big hug if I could. But asthma was our family's little glimpse into that world, and throwing away that bag brought back a lot of memories.

There were other trips to the ER, before we had figured out how to recognize the early signs of an attack and what medicines to keep on hand. There were months when we used the nebulizer every single day, and I would turn around and go back to the house for it if I realized it wasn't in the car. Life moves on; my children grow and change. But I don't think I will ever stop listening to them breathe at night, and sigh with relief when everything sounds clear and peaceful.