Counting Breaths

I’m at the end of the bed watching Isaiah.

He is covered in towels, laying on towels, sleeping fitfully.

I have my timer in my hand and I am counting his breaths.

At 5am this morning he woke feeling “yucky” and coughing that ugly barking cough.

I rolled over and grabbed his inhaler.

At 6am he still felt “yucky” and asked if he could just stay up and watch a show. It was at that moment that I knew today would be different.

By 9am we had inhaled all options, had a low-grade fever and were off to the doctor to have a look at this “thing” that blew in out of nowhere.

He’s talking in his sleep now. He could be saying mom, or no, or nonsense. But the mom that was so short with him yesterday for talking to her rudely is now worried and sitting close by and feeling more empathy than she ever thought possible.

I stopped writing about Isaiah’s “issues” because a wonderful comfortable complacency had set in. The complacency that is the result of many months of non-events.

Of not being able to remember the last time Uncle Nebi came to visit. (That is the name given to the nebulizer when Isaiah’s asthma was discovered at 3, it made him less scary)

I want to believe that we are done.

I don’t want to worry that Isaiah will have an asthma attack so severe that the hospital is our only choice.

When I see those yellow weeds growing outside, I want to think “How nice, it’s almost fall.” Not “Oh crap, ragweed.”

Isaiah has been throwing up every hour since 9ish? He has dark circles under his eyes, he’s thirsty, he’s taken at least 5 showers.

There are no clean towels or sheets left, although a load is about to come out of the dryer.

Asthma comes in all shapes and sizes. He wheezes a little, breathes too fast and throws up.

Today we talked about how it is impossible to talk yourself out of throwing up. He thought if he took deep breaths. It was a really smart thought, I felt badly that it didn’t work. I held the towel for him, didn’t gag or think “gross,” I was just there and we talked about the possibility of trying to make it to the bathroom next time.

I am watching him and remembering. Remembering this is part of our lives. Maybe forever, hopefully not. But August, September, these will be dangerous months for my allergy induced asthma guy.

Back-to-school brings new viruses running around town, and my homeschooled kid isn’t immune.

So I will be watching him sleep, counting his breaths, hoping for a peaceful night.


*When a child has asthma, counting breaths is a method you can use to see how severe his episode is. I remember the day I had to write this down while on the phone with his doctor. “20-30 is good, over 40 call me.” I have Isaiah instructions written on the inside of my kitchen cabinet. I never want to be so panicked that I can’t remember what the doctor said.

Also, if your child has allergy induced asthma, please consider allergy shots. Part of the reason I can be complacent is after 2 years of allergy shots we have seen much improvement. We certainly have had our share of scares, but the good far outweighs the bad.

12 thoughts on “Counting Breaths

  1. Aww, poor Isaiah. We had to use a nebulizer on Emma 2 winters ago and I remember how scary it truly was. She had RSV pneumonia and she still sometimes has issues with a cough after all this time. So I can imagine slightly, but still feel terrible for you both. Hugs, Jen and sending extra prayers both your way that Isaiah is feeling better today and that his allergy attacks will stay at bay this season.

    • Janine – Isaiah had RSV at 9 months. They say it can be a precursor to asthma, I think he would have had it anyway… today is better. He’s still pretty beaten down, but we see the light at the other side!

  2. Oh poor Momma. I know what you mean about becoming complacent. I do it all the time then WHAM. I hope Isiah feels better. I hope that this was a flare and not a occurrence. And I really beyond hope that you get some sleep.

  3. Since I saw him on FB working on his Rube Goldberg machine, I know Isaiah is doing better – I hope he continues to feel more like himself. How scary for both of you. Let’s hope the allergy season is a mild one!

  4. It is truly the scariest thing when your child is sick, having an allergic reaction (to spider bites!!), etc. It’s such a hopeless feeling. I hope Isaiah makes it through this season without too many issues. Do the docs think he will grow out of it a bit? That the allergic response will lessen over time? (ps, love the new design)

  5. Poor kiddo, and poor mama. I know so well the feeling of hovering, making sure they’re okay while feeling guilt over being short/annoyed/impatient with them earlier in the day. Sigh. I hope he’s feeling much better and by the way I love “we’re the weird family down the block” so so much. praying for a break for you all with this!!

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