My daughter had childhood asthma that lasted well into adulthood, as it sometimes does. I remember so many times how absolutely petrified I was whenever she had an asthma attack, struggling to breathe, the tissues over her collarbone sucking in with each breath. Horrifying for any parent, and especially so for single parents, of which I was one.
Single parents often have no one to support their decisions, no one to consult with, no one to help calm their fears or share in the parenting load. For me, that’s what proved so difficult, making the parenting decisions pretty much in isolation. I had some wonderful friends, and I dated here and there, but I didn’t have a partner in my home, day in and day out, until my daughter was into her late teens.
Like every single parent, I made parenting decisions based on my knowledge of what the experts said I should do, plus what my own gut said. I did have one advantage when it came to healthcare crises: I was a practicing RN.
As a critical care nurse at the local hospital I had a host of tools at my disposal, including syringes, injectable epinephrine, and because I knew the best pediatricians and best respiratory professionals around, whatever prescriptions I needed to control her attacks. Even with all of that, though, even with all of my knowledge and medicines at the ready, her attacks scared the bejesus out of me every time.
And now my poor daughter, with no healthcare training whatsoever, has to deal with her son’s sudden episodes of asthma. She lives five states and eight hours away, so it’s not like I can just run over there anytime there’s trouble.
When her son has an attack she sometimes calls me for feedback. I try to help but it’s hard. I hear the terror in her voice, and I want so much to help her make the decisions she needs to make, but I just can’t.
Should I give him more albuterol now or later?
Should I give him a dose of prednisone now? If so, how much?
Should I take him to the doctor now or wait until morning?
Is he going to be okay or am I being silly to worry about it?
He was only recently diagnosed with asthma, so my daughter is still learning about his particular needs. She will become more knowledgeable about his condition and more skilled in treating attacks and preventing new ones, absolutely, but this early period is the most difficult for a parent to deal with.
I so wish I could do more to help her through this period, but ultimately those decisions must be hers alone. And that is a frustrating, maddening, and just plain miserable feeling for any parent of an adult child.
Hang in there, my darling daughter. You can do this, and it will get better.