This morning I woke up from a terribly scary dream to realize that part of it was a bit real. In my dream, the building was on fire and it was hard to breath around the smoke. When I woke up, I could feel the tightness in my chest and realized that part did indeed feel real.
Over the past few months, since I have been back in Italy from my summer holiday to the States, I haven’t had many environmental allergies or asthma. Over the past two weeks however, I have felt a tightness in my chest from a cough and the quick change to cool weather. This was a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a while, and took me by surprise. Feeling this way is uncomfortable for someone who doesn’t have allergies or asthma, but for someone who does, it accentuates that feeling that much more.
Right now as I sit here typing, drinking hot tea in a cool apartment, I feel the tightness and I find it a bit frightening. I am telling you this because it is important as a parent that you understand how vital you are to them. Parents are the best comfort your children have when they feel this way. I am sure it is even scarier for them because they don’t know how to express the way they are feeling. At least as an adult, I know the things I can do to try to help myself. For parents who share this blog with their children, it is important that your children know that they are not the only ones who feel this way. It is a scary and frustrating feeling, and although you may not understand how they feel, you can understand that they are scared and need you.
I don’t often worry or feel concerned about my allergies or asthma, but whenever I feel like this, that worry does exist. To help myself worry less, these are the strategies I use:
1.) I take deep breaths and tell myself to relax and stay calm (if I cry or escalate in any way, I will only feel worse and have an even more difficult time).
2.) If necessary, I take my rescue inhaler (I use ProAir).
3.) I keep track of my breathing by measuring with my Peak Flow Meter to see how off my breathing really is or if I am more nervous when my breathing may actually be in a safe range.
4.) I drink hot tea and run a hot shower to breath in the steam.
5.) I find something to do, read, or watch that will relax me so I am not solely focused on the tightness.
I have had a few instances where my rescue inhaler did not help as much as it should, and I had to go to the hospital. Fortunately, that has been very few instances (and usually when I have been sick, extremely stressed out, or around pets). If your child’s tightness is that severe, a hospital is certainly the most important place to be!
Of course, with these experiences, it always tends to be situational…
Checking in with your child and making sure they know that you are there is extremely important. Teaching them also what to do is a skill they will need to take with them as they grow up and live on their own someday (like me).
One other point I want to make, is the importance as a parent of not showing your own worry or panic in front of your child. Although you as a parent are certainly entitled to feel panicked, it is something that will only worry your child more and make them feel even worse and more scared themselves. You as a parent need to make sure to feel in-control and in-charge of the situation. That way you will put both your child and yourself more at ease.
I am lucky that I can’t remember my parents ever showing serious worry in front of me throughout my growing up. However, I did have other adults who showed their worry and made me feel that much worse, and much more frightened. That is why I know the feeling, and know how much worse it feels as a child.
Although I am now on my own and my parents are not here in Italy with me to comfort me in-person, I do know that they are only a skype call away, and my Italian family (not by blood, but by love and care) is only one floor below, and that is a comfort I am fortunate to have!