Hidden Blessings

It had been a rough winter for Claire. She got sick nearly every month since September (and coincidentally she started preschool one day a week that month), had two bouts of pneumonia, and required treatments to help her breathe. The latest illness began on Mother’s Day, and by Thursday she was in a spiral of non-stop coughing. I mean that literally. She couldn’t utter a sentence without coughing between words. She couldn’t eat; she coughed so much and so hard she vomited. She hardly slept. The doctor had me bring her in and gave her breathing treatment, then sent us home with a prescription for prednisone and albuterol treatments. We also discussed whether to forgo attending preschool in the fall.

At our follow-up appointment on Tuesday, we discussed the situation. It turns out that Claire has asthma. This may be something she outgrows, as her respiratory system gets bigger and her immunity builds. She’s very petite. We have an asthma plan. When she’s healthy, it’s the green zone, and we need not do anything. At the sign of any sickness (fever, runny nose, sneezing, congestion, coughing — any one of these) we enter the yellow zone. We are to give her albuterol every four hours round the clock and prednisone twice a day until the cold goes away.

However, if she’s in the yellow zone more than a week, or she falls into a coughing spiral as she has, we enter the red zone and need to seek emergency attention — Urgent Care if they’re open, the ER if not.

At first I felt a little sad about pulling her out of preschool. I really want her to have the social outlet, and I want it too. The doctor pointed out, though, that if she’s sick all the time, she can’t get the social contact anyway. And preschool is a lot more exposure to illness than small play-dates with friends. So, I set about creating an at-home curriculum for us next year: reading/phonics, science, art & craft, music, games, adventure days. I’ll invite a couple friends over to join us now and then. And after more pondering, I realize that I have a gift. Soon enough, Claire will go to school five days a week and enter into her own life away from me. I have the privilege of her company for another year, at least, and maybe two.

I just returned from a day-long retreat with my friend Karen, where I realized something else. We’ve resorted to doing “puffs” — breathing ten times from a little chamber where the medicine is squirted into — because she fought the breathing treatments that took ten minutes every time. And I realized, today, that by sitting with her and helping her count breaths to ten, I am setting the foundation for her to learn how to settle herself and become aware of breath. It also helps me to stop and breathe, and be quiet. Breathing is the foundation of meditation, which leads to attention, which leads to love, which leads to patience, which leads to forgiveness, which leads to peace.

So what first seems like a hindrance has turned out to have aspects to appreciate. I’m grateful for that.


I have written this post quickly, because my life is in flux and I have to give my attention to other things: dinner, and packing. I feel eloquence is lacking in the above reflection, but it will have to do. We move on Tuesday! So much to do before that!

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2 Comments on “Hidden Blessings”

  1. Angela, Australia Says:

    It is terrible when your child is sick and asthma is not something to be ignored, but it is good to hear that you have an asthma plan and Claire is improving. Good luck with your move!

  2. Jan Says:

    Sometimes life hits you with so much at one time. You sound as if you are doing a remarkable job of handling what must be handled. Personally, I think this is why women are the stronger sex.
    You know the quote of Eleanor Roosevelt’s: “A woman is like a tea bag–you never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” Hope that life becomes less stressful after the move, and that Claire’s asthma comes under better control. Hang in there.