Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Just Breathe

For the last week or so, C has had increased asthma symptoms. As soon as we noticed this exacerbation, we put him back on some maintenance meds and started regular nebulizer treatments throughout the day. We were slowly making progress, I thought. And although his peak flow numbers weren't in his green range, they were creeping higher in the yellow range.

On Saturday morning, C started to say he didn't feel so great, and his coughing sounded a little wetter. I cut our morning errands sort, took the kids home and took his temperature. It was normal, though he did feel slightly warmer to the touch. He perked up Saturday afternoon, so I didn't think much of it and kept him on regular nebs.

On Sunday we went to church and he sang in the choir, though watching him, he wasn't singing exuberantly, or even heartily. I'm not sure if that was his not feeling well or just trying to be pre-adolescent cool. By the time we arrived home, his cough sounded a little wetter, he admitted to something coming up his throat with coughs, and said he was starting to feel lousy again. This time the thermometer registered a fever, though low-grade.

When my husband arrived home from work, we decided he needed to be seen. My husband took him up to the covering pediatrics office. (My husband can converse with the pediatricians on a different level than I can, but as a Mommy, it's hard being out of that loop.) They gave him another nebulizer in the office so they could hear his chest better, then sent him home with prescriptions for a pulse of steroids and antibiotics to cover the suspected beginnings of pneumonia.

C handled the whole thing well. Two days later, I can see he's feeling better, and he's had a few green readings on his peak flow meter.

The emotions in brings up in my husband and myself, however - well, I don't even know how to describe them. Just the word "pneumonia" makes me a bit of a wreck.

C is doing better and better with processing his illness of 3 1/2 years ago. For a couple years, he wouldn't talk about it, and asked me to never talk about it with anyone. I would tell him that I couldn't do that, because I needed to deal with what happened, too, but that I would make sure I didn't talk about it with him in earshot. But this year, C took a breathing mask into school with him on a day the kids were to bring items that represented something unique about themselves. I was stunned, but pleased. He actually talked about it openly with his classmates. And last night he asked for a list of all the medications he had while he was sick, just because, he said, he wanted to know. It's a long list.

Interestingly, I realized that as C has become ready to talk about what happened, I want to push it all deeper down inside me. I'm afraid, if we do talk about it more, I wouldn't be able to keep myself together. While I have been working hard to make what happened to him just a part of his life, it's more than that for me. It is an incredibly difficult episode that I still have trouble thinking about.

I guess it makes sense in some ways. C doesn't remember a good chunk of that time - any of the time in the hospital, actually, and I do. He was sedated and medicated and didn't see the 14 tubes in and out of his little body. By the time he was home, he was just weak and tired and his 7 year old psyche couldn't comprehend how perilous his journey had been. Now that he is older he wants to know a little bit more and a little bit more - but the distance of time separates him from the raw trauma of it all. Thankfully.

Through this little asthma episode, my gut instinct has told me that he's going to be fine. I learned to listen to my gut that awful day in April, 2003, when I looked at my pale son and thought, "This is not right. We have to go to the doctor. Now." But today, now, the gut says it's going to be okay - he's going to be okay. But will I?

I don't know how to tie all this together. C wanting to know more and my own anxiety and anguish. He's here and alive and healthy, and for that I am so thankful - but there are still emotions to be processed for all of us. I want to do it right for all of us, but I'm not sure I know how.

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