My ten-year-old son had a history of asthma. Isaiah was on two different inhalers when the dreadful moment happened. I received a call from the school nurse stating that my son was having difficulty breathing and wanted to know if I wanted her to call HEMSI or if I would come pick him up. I told her that I would pick him up, as I was aware of the poor care the nearby hospital provided. Upon arriving, he was still struggling to breathe which is a sight no parent ever wants to see.
As we left for the other nearby hospital, he was still in a lot of distress with his breathing being quite labored. He even attempted to open the car door at one point trying to get air because he could feel his oxygen cutting off and I could tell his airways were closing rapidly. I was frantically driving; I knew this was a dire situation for him. Upon arrival at the hospital, he was taken immediately to triage. The ER doctor stated that he was having a chronic asthma attack.
I would like to enlighten you on what the chronic asthma symptoms are: shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, wheezing when exhaling, which is the most common sign of asthma in children.
Here, my baby boy was experiencing all these symptoms which resulted in him panicking as well. His airways were narrowing rapidly. They began to treat him immediately and calmed his breathing and reduce the anxiety that made him have a panic attack. The doctor stated that one of the prescribed inhalers was causing a reaction with the other one.
Can you imagine on top of all that he was going through, the medications were not working together to help him? We spent about four hours in the ER triage until they finally got the right medications to help him. We left the hospital with another prescription for an inhaler and a portable breathing machine (nebulizer). He had to conduct three breathing treatments per day as well as making sure he took his medications with the two new inhalers he was prescribed.
As many parents of children with asthma, you may feel that you are in these situations all alone. We must be advocates for our children and what I found out, although it was years later, is that many African Americans find challenges with asthma medications. The challenges are a result of minorities not being part of clinical trials. Therefore, their clinical trials are real-time as they are ill and needing to try various treatment plans.
It is my hope that we as people of color continue to ask questions of our physicians, conduct our own research and be our own advocate for ourselves and our children.