One of the most terrifying memories I have of my youngest son as a toddler is when he climbed into my bed in the middle of the night because he was “scared he was going to die”. His vocabulary wasn’t quite wide enough for him to express himself completely, but his laborious breathing told me something was very wrong. We took him to his regular pediatrician, who recommended that we give him Claritin regularly. She assured us that everything would work out once his allergies were under control. Since he was already receiving a regular dose of Claritin each morning, I felt worse leaving that visit than I felt coming in.
My husband did some research and came across an article online listing the best physicians in the country and saw that Dr. Jose Arias, an allergy and asthma specialist, was included in that list. Feeling hopeful, I called to make an appointment.
Little Linebacker had to be free of any allergy medications at the time of his initial appointment to ensure that the allergy tests were as accurate as possible. He went without medication for an entire week. When we brought him into the office, his nose was completely plugged, his eyes were red and watery, and he was wheezing. The office staff was friendly, and we didn’t wait long at all to be seen by Dr. Arias. A series of scratch tests were performed, and we were able to pinpoint Little Linebacker’s specific allergies. Next was the lung function test. Little Linebacker breathed deeply into a spirometer that was hooked up to a computer. The results were very troubling: Little Linebacker’s lungs were functioning at about 50%. He was given a nebulizer treatment for 15 minutes, then took the test again to see how much he had improved. Even after the treatment, his lungs were only functioning at around 60%. It was confirmed that my little bear was asthmatic, and we were provided with maintenance and rescue inhalers, as well as nasal spray.
We started out visiting Dr. Arias every three months. Each time we went, Little Linebacker’s lung function had improved. Eventually, his maintenance inhaler was changed to a lower dosage, and the frequency of our appointments dropped to every six months. The last lung function test indicated that his lungs were functioning at almost 100%. You can imagine how elated that made me feel as a mother. But even with such awesome test results, there is not a single day that goes by without my worrying about whether or not he is breathing well. I make sure a rescue inhaler is readily available anywhere he might be, and there is always one in my purse. We use it far less often than we used to, but that doesn’t make me any less afraid.
Soon I will be joining thousands of others from around the country in this year’s Fight for Air Run/Walks to raise money for the American Lung Association. I am gathering donations and walking to help fight asthma, lung cancer, COPD and dozens of other lung diseases. I don’t normally do this sort of thing, but I am asking for your help. By making a contribution on my behalf, you will be helping the American Lung Association provide community based education programs, fight for cleaner air standards and fund life-saving research.
Asthma is the number one cause for school absenteeism and every day in this country at least 10 people die from an asthma attack, so it’s important that we provide disease management education to children when they are 8, 9 or 10 years old. Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death globally and is woefully underfunded when it comes to research, so it is essential that we generate the awareness needed to increase resources for advanced research projects. The average age for American’s to start a smoking habit is 14, thus it is critical that we get into the elementary schools and teach children about the dangers of tobacco use early.
My goal is to raise $100 for our cause. Please go to
The American Lung Association’s website and make a $5, $10 or $20 donation. All donations are fully tax deductible, as The American Lung Association is a 501(c)3 organization and is in fact one of the most recognized nationally for proper management of the resources entrusted them since they began in 1904. You will receive a notice in the mail from me thanking you for your gift which you can then use for your tax filing next year. You may also make checks payable to The American Lung Association and mail them to our local office at:
851 Outer Road
Orlando, FL 32814-6652
Please take a deep breath….and be thankful that you can. Millions of others suffer from lung disease daily and your support makes the everyday act of breathing that much easier for many people.