The ‘A’-Word. Finding Hope in Asthma Diagnosis

Faith, Family / Friday, May 29th, 2015

The diagnosis of asthma can feel discouraging. Yet with diagnosis comes hope for better care and treatment, and better health overall.

Sitting in the doctor’s office for the third time this month with a coughing, wheezing child, again, yet another doctor uttered the dreaded ‘A’-word (don’t worry, you won’t find profanity here – this is a more difficult word for this mama to stomach).


With every mention, the likelihood of asthma becoming our reality increases.

We already deal with that other ‘A’-word (allergy) and all the paperwork, medications, food precautions and disappointments that come with it. Our son handles it well but I have been hoping and praying against another health issue requiring a medical action plan.

Each wheezing trip to the doctor yields increased medication and building concern over an escalating problem we do not yet have under control. A problem none of us fully comprehend.

The word ‘asthma’ initially triggered a knee-jerk parental response filled with worry, emotion, and denial. Why? Perhaps because naming it means acknowledging a real problem that may be here to stay. Or because I long for him to be healthy and care-free. We are already equipped with an Epi-Pen, Benadryl and managing safety of every single bite…isn’t that enough for one little person (and his mama) to handle?

I just don’t want him to have asthma. I want him to run, play and climb and do not want good activities and exercise to trigger wheezing.

I just don’t want him to need an inhaler or nebulizer. And I certainly abhor the thought of him ever having a full-blown asthma attack (on a side note – if your doctor mentions asthma, DO NOT immediately google ‘asthma attack’ YouTube videos. Trust me, you need to be prepared to watch that. Scary stuff).

Like allergies, asthma is simply out of my control. I can’t stop it. It can be managed, but it is hard to stomach that I can’t fix it. Doesn’t every mama want to just fix it? Sigh. I hate feeling so helpless!

But my helplessness forces me to drop to my knees in prayer for healing, answers and a solution. It reminds me that my God is faithful – but His ways do not always conform to my plans.

Asthma is not my plan. But weeks of prayer have revealed that asthma may be in God’s plan for our son. I don’t know why, but trust that God will walk with (or carry) us.

Like it or not, asthma is an answer. Treating asthma is a solution – just not the one I wanted.

I can already see good from ‘asthma’ on his medical chart. We already see a more streamlined response at the doctor. His oxygen levels are now assessed right away. As long as within acceptable values, we wait in line like everyone else. If in danger, I have no doubt he will be treated immediately. The doctors ask us pointed questions, address our questions thoroughly, and explain next steps. They gave a ‘tentative’ asthma action plan so we can be proactive until we see the specialist in June. With each appointment, I arrive defeated but leave better equipped and more informed. I am increasingly grateful for the team of professionals helping him be as healthy as possible.

I have proudly watched this brave, grateful child thrive as his character is strengthened even as he gasps for air.

As he sits, coughing excessively into the nebulizer mask, the resilience and hope in his eyes literally steals my breath. He doesn’t hear the word ‘asthma’ and shrink back. He listens, wanting to know more. I’m amazed at how much he understands!

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The word asthma means nothing to him, except that it potentially gives his coughing a name – a name that means a plan, treatment and a chance to feel better. Our little man is a trooper. He hopes and trusts without reservation and does not dwell in useless self-pity.

He rarely protests his two (now) three treatments of asthma maintenance medication even though he has to stop playing and sit still with an uncomfortable mask on his face for 30 minutes. He knows when he needs albuterol and asks for it before I can offer. His attitude teaches his mama that the mere word, ‘asthma’, isn’t all-powerful or all-condemning.

So wise at just four and a half.

I’ve given this word far too much credit. We are already dealing with the symptoms, no matter what we call it. We were helpless as he coughed so hard he vomited, only to continue without relief. Now, we use the nebulizer and gratefully pray over him as we he peacefully falls back asleep. We are increasingly educated to know when he needs more help.

I may not want him to need the nebulizer, but I am grateful for it. We are no longer fighting a nameless issue without proper tools. 

Even a troubling diagnosis is far better than being ill-equipped.

Waiting for the specialist, I am increasingly prepared for the outcome. Regardless of whether his chart says ‘asthma’ or not, we will continue to receive invaluable advice, instructions and tools so he can feel his best.

I still do not want him to have asthma, but I see how diagnosis ensures streamlined, proper care. I appreciate how an asthma plan can help us do what we can to prevent an asthma attack and treat symptoms. I recognize how this struggle is increasing my trust and dependence on God as I surrender, admitting it is out of my hands. I know my peace (or lack thereof) will teach our son more about what walking with God is really about than any Sunday School lesson. I will choose to focus on God instead of some medical term.

Most importantly, I see how God is lovingly building our son’s character with perseverance, hope, gratitude, and responsibility. I believe God will use this struggle for good (He already is).

I’m not ready to embrace it, but it might be time to quit treating a mere word as my enemy and call it what this probably is…


Here we (probably) go.

5 Replies to “The ‘A’-Word. Finding Hope in Asthma Diagnosis”

  1. Beautifully written. I know all those feelings so well. Our Little Man has food allergies and that diagnosis not only held so many answers, it held so much fear, stress, and anxiety for me. We have things under control and he is slowly outgrowing his too long to name list of allergies (yay!) but anything that changes our children’s lives from “normal” is a wound to every Mama’s heart. But I can tell you, five years into this allergy journey, my boy is so empathetic to other children with allergy diagnoses. He is concerned about their lists when we have a party, or how they feel when we are out with them. It is a beautiful characteristic, earned through his struggles with the same thing. Pain is never without reason. God uses ALL things for good. ALL things. I will be praying for you!

    1. Thank you for this encouragement and the prayers. One of the greatest blessings of blogging is to hear from those who have been there, and who ‘get me’. I so appreciate your feedback as a ma who understands allergies – and Yey God that your son is outgrowing some of his!

  2. Hang in there, sweet friend! My son has struggled with asthma for the last 10 years and reading your above thoughts is like a window to my soul almost a decade ago. My son is a healthy young man with food allergies and asthma and manages them both while playing soccer, doing boy scouts, running, jumping, and playing. You are already ahead of the game in your “can-do” attitude and relying on God. I’m with This Abundant Life…God is good all the time!

    1. God IS good all the time. I So appreciate your reminder of such an important truth. Thank you for sharing your experience – it gives me hope, especially hearing how many things he is involved in.

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