I recently found out that Latino children are 60 percent more at risk than white children to have asthma attacks. I also found out that Latinos are three times as likely as whites to die from asthma. (If you’d like to know why, please check out this article). And, I freaked out because my own daughter, Vanessa, was diagnosed with asthma almost two years ago!
Were you aware of these numbers? I wasn’t and I felt guilty. But I’ve decided to turn that guilt into action by doing what I’ve always done best: informing people. That’s always been one of my favorite parts about being a journalist because I truly believe that information is power.
Today I’ll start with a very personal story.
Two years ago this summer, when I was very pregnant with my second child, Vanessa — who was almost three at the time — wasn’t able to get over a chest cold. Or at least I thought that’s what it was. We visited her pediatrician at least every two weeks, while he tried to figure out what was going on. Mainly, she had a debilitating cough that wouldn’t go away. The worst part was that it usually kept her — and her father and a very pregnant me — awake at night. I felt like I was going out of my mind.
My husband kind of called it early on when he said the words I’d been dreading to hear since she was born: “Maybe it’s asthma.”
As a child who grew up with asthma until he was a teenager, my husband is pretty aware of what this invasive illness looks and sounds like. But I didn’t want to hear any it. I knew asthma could be hereditary and I was hoping that, because my daughter was almost three, she’d no longer be at risk.
I’ll never forget how I finally broke down a few weeks before my son was born. None of the pediatrician’s treatments were making a difference and we found ourselves back in his office one more time. (In all fairness, pediatric asthma is very difficult to diagnose). Because it was a last minute appointment, we had to be seen by a physician’s assistant. Tired of having to explain my daughter’s symptoms to yet one more person (and with my hormones raging thanks to the impending birth of my son), I lost it and demanded that something be done. Now.
The PA looked at me like I had lost my mind — and she was probably right — but I couldn’t bear to see my sweet girl go through another sleepless night due to a persistent cough that wouldn’t go away no matter what we had tried til then. I stormed out of the doctor’s office trying to make sure I kept my calm so as not to scare my daughter.
I decided right then and there that we had to get to the bottom of this and thanks to a truly helpful customer service representative at our insurance company, I was able to get an appointment for the next day with an asthma and allergy specialist at our neighborhood hospital.
I will be forever grateful to this doctor because — even though she ended up confirming what we had dreaded: Vanessa has asthma and is allergic to a bunch of environmental triggers — she opted for a very aggressive treatment involving several medicines (like albuterol and budesonide) which I’d never heard of before, and finally got rid of my daughter’s cough. We all went back to sleep and I felt like we were in control again…until the next episode, of course.
I hated having to see my tiny daughter with a nebulizer. I still do.
However, every single day I thank God that she’s never had a full-blown asthma attack like the ones her daddy has described from his childhood years. They sound terrifying and I hope we never have to go through them.
So, you see, accepting an invitation to be part of the Moms Clean Air Force is a personal thing for me.
I hope you join us in the fight to make sure the EPA continues to ensure we can all breath the cleanest air possible.