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Rachael M., MA

As a mother, there is nothing more difficult than watching your child struggle to breathe. My two young children and I suffer from asthma.

My daughter Mia has a more severe form of the disease than her brother William or myself. Although her condition is under better control now, in the past Mia’s asthma-related coughing fits could be relentless and terrifying. Often fearing that her airways would close, we made more than a few trips to the emergency room desperate for help.

Mia once coughed so violently during an acute asthma attack that she burst blood vessels in her eyes and returned home from the hospital with tiny freckles dotted across her face from burst capillaries. Seeing your child struggle just to breathe is the worst torture imaginable. Mia now takes daily allergy medication to reduce potential asthma triggers, and she must always carry an inhaler with her where ever she goes. She understands her condition and knows how important it is to be prepared, but as a mother I find it difficult not to worry.

Mia is at the age where she wants to attend sleepovers and go on day trips with friends from school. I find myself struggling with wanting Mia to have as normal of a childhood as possible while trying to protect her from situations where she could have a severe asthma attack when I am too far away to help her.

Because of my family’s experiences with asthma, I am aware of the public perception that it is not a serious disease and that just a puff of an inhaler is all that is needed to restore normal breathing whenever an asthma attack strikes. That’s simply not the case. Even asthma that is well managed like Mia’s can quickly become a crisis, particularly when air pollution levels are high. I strongly support efforts to clean up air pollution to safeguard the air we all breathe. There should be no question about what steps our leaders should take to reduce the number of bad air days that plague our community to help all children breathe better.

First published: June 7, 2013

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