Lynn Gardner, R.N.

The reason I walk is my daughter Melanie. She was an active happy junior in high school when her planned future took a detour. Someone accidently sprayed her in the face with a fire extinguisher during a marching band performance, in which it was being used as a special affect. Almost immediately she started coughing and as she led the band onto the field I could tell she was having difficulty breathing. As she marched to the stands I could tell she was really in trouble and I ran to her with my albuterol inhaler in hand. She was wheezing, coughing and struggling for a breath by the time she reached me. Up until this point she had not experienced breathing problems. She was a karate student for 5 years, attending lessons twice a week and her passion was playing the flute, which she had been playing and taking private lessons for 7 years. She loved to play her flute and did so everyday for an hour or more, never having any symptoms of breathing difficulties. However from that evening on she would have to learn to live her life differently. She stopped taking karate lessons after two separate times having an attack so severe they came close to calling 911. I watched her struggle to play her flute, having to quit after 10-15 min. Just walking from her bedroom to the kitchen I could see her breathlessness. She loved music and that was a big part of the future she had planned for herself; music education and to perform. Initially the doctor told us the irritation to her lungs would be temporary and she would be okay, to give it 6 months, but that was not to be the case. Six months went into a year, then into a year and a half. It came time to start to apply for colleges and a decision had to be made concerning her major, but also of concern was the need to be close to her lung specialists. Her lungs had not improved much to this point and one doctor told us he was very concerned and said if the next breathing test (PFT's) in 6 months were no better she may be looking at a lung transplant in the future. At this point they where treating her condition as acute asthma secondary to lung irritation due to chemical exposure. She was on the max dose of Advair, two allergy meds, nebulizer treatments, frequent antibiotics and on a significant dose of prednisone. She decided not to apply for Ashland University's music program, as had been her dream, but to except a scholarship to our community college instead. She was no longer going to major in music but in middle-childhood education in math and history instead. Although she joined the band and continued to study and play the flute it was not as before. When she completed the first semester of college her PFT's had improved, but were not normal and for the first time she was told that she would always have asthma. She came to me one day and said she needed to talk with me and went on to say; "I can live without math or history for the rest of my life, but I can't imagine living without music." And I said "then that is what you need to do". We began the next day looking to transfer colleges and pick up her dream. She worried about her auditions and we prayed she would not have an exacerbation or get a respiratory infection. Our prayers were answered and she did well, was accepted into Ashland's program and received a music scholarship. She has had to learn about her disease, devolpe a care plan that works for her, check her peak flows, be aware of her symptoms, take her meds and stay with her routine and never be without her portable nebulizer. She has learned that if she doesn't take charge of her condition and control her asthma; her asthma will control her and her ability to live her life as she has chosen. She is now completing her junior year at Ashland, we just attended her junior recital in which she performed awesome and was just glowing after the performance. It was all I could do to hold back tears as I listened to her play, recalling those days, weeks and years that she was so sick and so sad. Her journey has been one that proves what can be accomplished if one wants something bad enough. Music is in her soul, it is her being. My daughter is why I walk and why I am asking for your support to help another child realize that asthma may be one of life's detours but it doesn't have to destroy dreams.