“From Powerless to Empowered”
Watching my children struggle to breathe makes me feel powerless. I hate this feeling. The goal of this foundation is to fight against it.
Two of my children suffer from asthma. When my oldest child Scotty, was a toddler, I was a single mom. He began having asthma attacks. I utilized a nebulizer machine for his treatments. However these treatments did not keep his attacks under control. I was overwhelmed by the frequent visits to the emergency room and/or doctor’s office. When an attack occurs, steroid medicine is the only answer; albuterol treatments don’t always control an asthma attack.
Due to Scotty’s asthma attacks, I missed a lot of work. My boss understood at first but my frequent absences started to take a toll. He commented “Tisha, you need to be here.” I needed my job to live, but Scotty also needed his mother.
In the fall of 1997, Scotty was in my bed struggling to breathe. I was scared to call my boss but once he heard Scotty’s labored breathing he said, “TISHA, get him to the hospital right now!” I immediately rushed him to Thunderbird Hospital. Scotty had to be air evacuated from Thunderbird Hospital to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. I was terrified. At that moment, I made a decision to never live in fear of losing a job. I have one son.
In 1999, two very important events happened to change our lives. First, we met Jason Suarez , a cyclist and bike shop owner. Jason “Jay” taught Scotty how to ride a bike. Second, Scotty’s attacks lessened. It became extremely apparent that the more Scotty exercised, the stronger his lungs became. Because of continual cycling, Scotty’s health continually improved. From the age of nine to the present, Scotty’s asthma remains under control. Cycling has given Scotty more than strong lungs; it has given him a dream. Scotty competes in races all around the southwestern region and has the aspiration of one day becoming a professional cyclist.
Jay and I married in April 2006 and we have two beautiful daughters Brooklyn and Alexandria “Ali”. Brooklyn is allergy and asthma free, but Ali is not. When Ali was under two, we realized she was having issues breathing when she played hard. Her breathing became labored, but as Ali settled down, her breathing was fine. It became of pattern of her running, playing and struggling to breathe! Ali is four now, and I never leave the house without a rescue inhaler in my purse.
In March 2011, Ali got sick with a cough and high fever of 104. The doctor gave her antibiotic and sent her home. By the third day, this illness triggered some wheezing. That evening I gave her Albuterol treatments and the next morning we went to the doctor. Her oxygen level was at 93, which is dangerously low; they gave her a nebulizer treatment so I could get her to the hospital. She was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, RSV, and asthma.
That night I learned that I could buy a pulse oximeter at my local Walgreen’s to monitor her oxygen levels at home. The tool came available in 2009. I also had a friend mention Singular allergy medicine helped her with her asthma. Why wouldn’t they recommend this knowing how she struggled on a daily bases, missed out on play dates and school?
That last trip to the emergency room opened my eyes and made me realize education is vital. Ali is now on a preventive medicine inhaler and singular. In four months she has only had to use the rescue Albuterol inhaler one time. She has never gone that long without Albuterol since she was 14 months. Ali is now a level three swimmer; she is strengthening her lungs and exercising her right to breathe!
My hope is that my story will help educate other families and prevent them from facing some of the painful struggles I have encountered. I want families to go from feeling powerless to feeling empowered. Empowering others through education and awareness is the purpose of The Winded Foundation and Team Winded. Help us help others understand the importance of exercising the right to breathe!