It was heart breaking when my daughter Emma told me the worst thing about having asthma was not being able to what the other kids can do. But I was proud when she stopped and said, “No, that’s not really true. It’s just harder for me.”
At eight years old, Emma is active in sports, enjoys Girl Scouts and has lots of friends, but we always have to keep in mind the restrictions that asthma places on her. When friends invite her to go somewhere for the day, I make sure she has her inhaler with her. I also worry that she’ll get into trouble and no one will realize. She’ll be coughing and wheezing and her eyes will be tearing, but if anyone asks, she’ll say she’s fine.
When she’s having fun, it’s hard to stop. One of my biggest challenges is allowing her to go on campouts and sleepovers with the Girl Scouts. Even if the other mothers aren’t going, I invite myself along. I might be overprotective, but I am concerned that Emma could be fine and then all of sudden have a serious asthma attack. And with asthma, you don’t always get a second chance.
To help Emma learn more about her condition and how to manage it, we’ve been working with the local American Lung Association office. They’ve given us books and handouts and video games, but what we would really love is to find a support group in our area for children with asthma. There’s nothing like sharing your feelings and experiences with other kids who can relate.
Dirty air can make it so much harder for Emma and other children with asthma to breathe. That’s why I am happy to hear that air quality and reducing pollution from power plants is a top priority for the President. As a responsible parent, the need to reduce soot and smog in our air is something I take very seriously.