Saturday, September 19, 2015

The impact of asthma on parenting

You might think that on a normal day asthma has little impact on raising kids, but it does, and it has a big impact. You may not notice it. You may not see it. But asthma has an impact on both how I parent, and how my kids perceive me as a parent. Allow me to explain.  
And you also have to add into the equation that asthma usually is not pure, meaning that most asthmatics have other ailments that go with it.  In my case I have allergic asthma. So, to understand how asthma impacts parenting you have to look at this from a few different angles.
  1. A good asthma day with no asthma and no allergy symptoms.
  2. A day with just allergy symptoms.
  3. A day with just asthma symptoms.
  4. A day with both allergy and asthma symptoms.
1.  Even on a good day my kids will never be exposed to dogs, cats, or pets of any kind.  Even on a good day my kids will not learn how to hunt, nor shoot a gun by their dad.  Even on a good day my kids will not learn how to do handy work around the home by their dad.  These are all things that must be avoided. However, in exchange of this my kids are exposed to a dad with a college degree who is a good philosopher and writer. 

2.  I have written before that allergies are far worse than asthma, mainly because there is treatment for asthma attacks and nothing you can do for allergies beyond the usual allergy and cold remedies. Today, for example, I woke up with inflammatory markers flowing through my body, and they are causing the tissues along my entire respiratory tract to become inflamed.  They are also causing my face and head to feel stuffy and itchy.  This causes anxiety like you wouldn't believe. My nose is stuffy and running. My eyes itch like crazy.  I head itches so bad I feel like I could pull my hair out.  My chest feels itchy and tight, as the inflammatory markers also trigger asthma. Yet despite all of this, I still have to deal with the usual things a parent of a 17, 12, 7, and 5 you old must deal with.  They can't see allergies. So they don't know it's there. And even if they could see it, my 5 and 7 year old couldn't care less.  When they want to eat, it's my job to feed them.  When they need to go to school, it's my job to take them.  It doesn't matter how uncomfortable I feel.  Add on top of this that the house needs to be clean, and due to my condition I don't feel like doing it. Add on top of that the fact I can't sleep because of this conundrum.  Like I said, I'd much rather have an asthma attack than deal with allergies. Bottom line, when an allergy attack is on full tilt it's very hard to be patient with my kids. It's usually during these moments that I'm most likely to lose it with them.  On the few occasions I do blow up at them I feel guilty because they don't know what's going on inside my body. Even if I explain it they cannot fathom it because they do not have it.  

3.  A day with just asthma is not very common for me, although it does happen.  Usually it involves a virus, such as a common cold.  I get to the point I can't really help much around the house.  However, since asthma, unlike a broken leg with its cast and all, cannot be seen by those who do not have it, it's nearly impossible to conceive of what it's like.  So, here again, we run into the conundrum of others not knowing that you feel like you can't breathe.  So, if you are just sitting around, they think you are the lazy one.  They think you are just making excuses. And, to be honest, sometimes I go to far and do more than I should because I care so much how I'm perceived.  This is because I'm competitive. I want my kids to learn that even if you have a disease like asthma you can and should still function.  Yet if the asthma continues despite efforts to make it better, anxiety ensues and 

4. If both allergies and asthma are bothering me it's lights out for me.  I'm about useless as both a husband and a dad.  It's on these days I'm only good for my brain.  This kind of reminds me of a quote from Henry Ford, who said, "The only reason I have a body is to carry my brain around."  That's how I feel when both are plaguing me. 

Now, as noted, there are some good medicines for controlling asthma. So, for the most part, asthma is not a problem. Still, allergies plague me year round.  There's tree pollen in the spring, ragweed pollen in the summer and fall, and house dustmites in the basement that plague me in the winter.  So, trying to balance all this with being a parent is a conundrum. 

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