Breathing Treatments. And Practical Love.

Day four of breathing treatments.

I don’t have asthma, but since a short bout with pneumonia ten years ago, when I get a respiratory infection I need breathing treatments. It rarely happens, but when I do get this kind of sick, it can be scary.

I have one now. I’ve had it since Sunday night. And yes, I’m on antibiotics and steroids.

Christmas morning started with a breathing treatment. The week has consisted of spending time with kids while trying to manage being ill and cheerful. Thankfully my kids are old enough to help cook Christmas dinner.

Each time I deal with respiratory illness and breathing treatments I think of my friends with babies who have to do this. And I pray.

Why do I pray?

Let me tell you about using a nebulizer to deliver albulteral to my lungs so I can breathe.

In the hour leading up to treatment time, my breathing becomes labored. It can be terrible to not be able to breath. My breath become raspy. It’s an ugly sound.

I have to set up the machine, preferably in a place where the noise won’t wake up those who are still sleeping. I attach the tubing and pour in the meds. Then I sit, taking deep breaths of meds. More steroids.

Each treatment takes 20-30 minutes. By the end of a treatment my whole body is shaking. My heart is racing.

My lungs open up and my body tries to rid itself of the infection. I cough a lot, sometimes to the point of vomiting.

I continue to shake. The shaking lasts for more than an hour. I am filled with a sense of anxiety and hyperactivity.

The steroids cause me to be constantly hungry. I want to eat everything I see.

The whole thing is uncomfortable but necessary if I want to breathe.

My point: I am a 56-year-old woman with the understanding of what’s going on and enough self control not to act on these feelings of anxiety, fear, hyperactivity, and constant hunger. I do give into the hunger at times, but I can manage my medications and give myself breathing treatments while everyone else sleeps. I take my meds as directed without help or throwing a fit.

So what does this have to do with praying?

Babies don’t. They can’t. Sick babies need an adult to help them take meds and do breathing treatments. They can’t do this on their own. They don’t understand why they can’t breathe or that the loud machine will help them. All they know is they don’t feel right.

Imagine what it’s like to be young mom who has a very sick two-year-old. A baby who can’t breathe without these kinds of breathing treatments. A baby who is acting out because they are sick and can’t breathe.

Imagine having a two-year-old needing these breathing treatments every two to four hours around the clock.

Imagine being a mom in the middle of the night trying to get your two-year-old to sit still long enough to breath in the meds while you wonder if this time he’ll end up in the hospital again.

Imagine having your child cough to the point of vomiting. You know the coughing is good as it gets the junk out of their lungs, but your child cries so hard while coughing you wonder how he can breathe. And then you have vomit to clean up.

And then imagine dealing with that same sick child for an hour after each treatment. Trying to help him calm down and get back to sleep.

Imagine how little sleep you and your child get each night. And imagine trying function the next day. Caring for other children. Caring for your sick child. Trying to be a kind human despite sleep deprivation and the fears that come with a sick child.

Then imagine being that same mom and having an older mom call to tell you she heard your baby is sick and she’s been praying for you both.

Imagine having her offer to bring a meal or to pick up your family’s dirty laundry to wash and fold and return by dinner. With dinner.

Imagine she offers to come play with the babies while their exhausted momma takes a nap.

Imagine she offers to pick up your order at Walmart or your child’s prescriptions at the pharmacy.

Or perhaps she offers to simply listen as you cry and spill your heart to her over the phone, knowing what you share is for her ears only.

Imagine the feeling of love that you, a young, exhausted mom, have knowing you’re not alone in this parenting thing. This older woman has offered to walk alongside you and help you.

Perhaps this winter, when we see posts by tired mommas with sick babies, we can do more than scroll by.

We can pray.

And we can offer practical help.

Perhaps we can love them and their babies by offering to wash some dishes.

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