My son Tyler has asthma and when he has a bad day, he goes down very quickly. He says it feels like having an elephant on his chest. As a mom it’s my job to pay attention to these warning signs and to keep him calm if he has an asthma flare-up. If he’s anxious, it only makes it more difficult to breathe.
I know what that's like. As a child, I was never really diagnosed with asthma, but my seasonal allergies would sometimes get bad enough to trigger the suffocating feeling of a major asthma attack. You either can't get air in or out, and there's really nothing anyone can do to help you.
Tyler was healthy when he was born, but when he was around one-years-old, he started getting sick all the time. I used to call him my barometer, because the minute the weather changed, he'd develop respiratory problems. We eventually moved to Arizona thinking the climate would be better for him, but the dry air made it worse.
For the past few years, we've lived in the northwest corner of Texas. Tyler's condition has stabilized, but we have to be vigilant. Over the years, he's been hospitalized more times than I can count.
We live out in the country about 60 miles from the city. The last time Tyler had an asthma attack, I decided to drive him myself to the hospital, but the last stretch of the trip was simply too difficult for both of us. Now I never take a chance. When he gets in trouble, I don't hesitate to call the ambulance.
Tyler keeps his asthma medication with him at all times. He has to do a pre-treatment before gym and also band class, where he plays the trumpet. What would happen if he didn't take that precaution? In his own words, "I would start wheezing and have trouble catching my breathing."
Even though we don't live near a lot of traffic or heavy industry, we're still subject to air currents bringing in dirty air or wildfire soot from neighboring areas. When the weather changes and a cold front moves in, it feels like the toxins in the air get pushed down, making it harder for everyone to breathe.
As a mother, I want stricter air quality standards that will offer better protection for all of us, especially for Tyler and the many children in our country with asthma. Clean air is never something we should take for granted.