In Sickness and Health

                    Seldom do I get sick but I have been treated for asthma complications twice in the past month. Both incidents involved having a cold first. I was put on prednisone and later antibiotics. I am still not 100% but getting there. Thankfully, my ten day vacation starts on Friday.
                     I am not the only one who has been under the weather. My husband, youngest son and my oldest son are fighting colds. My oldest son, Michael, needs extra attention to prevent him contracting pneumonia. I frequently use a cough assist on him, sometimes in the night. If you are not familiar with this machine, it is a marvel. It should be a marvel as the cost is equivalent to a car. However, we all know there is nothing worth more than good health. We will do anything to have good health. A cough assist is a machine used on a patient who is unable to cough mucus unassisted from their lungs. It can be compared to the iron lung of yesterday. Today’s cough assist is a small machine, which is portable and has gauges and dials on the front. When it is plugged in, it makes a loud sound like a respirator. It can be a little frightening. There is a long flexible hose that attaches to a face mask and that is attached to the machine. On the gauge is a needle that needs to be completely verticle when the mask is pushed tightly against the mouth and nose. I help Mike with this and I gently hold the back of his neck when I do it. The needle moves to the far right when he inhales and to the far left when he exhales. We continue this five or 6 times and then he coughs on the 6th time. When he coughs, the air which has entered his lungs forces the mucus to come out of his mouth. Then we repeat this about 6 times. It expands his lungs and keeps him healthier. 
                    Michael called me at work the other day, having some distress with his coughing. I called my youngest son JT who was 5 miles away at his job. He was able to get to the house and help Mike with a treatment. Mike instructed his brother how to use the machine. The following day, I asked my mom to visit and try a treatment on him as well. She had never tried it, but was happy she learned to use it. I am very thankful to have a supportive family because I need it. I have been very aggressive in his treatment because I don’t want him to land in the hospital with pneumonia. This machine is also used for people with Cystic Fibrosis. The world today has seen much integration between man and machinery. Though I am thankful that Mike has all of this marvelous equipment, ultimately as he gets older, as his own guardian he will decide how much more intervention he wants. The complexities of the world are more than my own mind can handle at times. 
                    I have learned to accept many things. It did not come easy to me, almost like doing everything in slow motion with one hand tied behind my back. In the beginning, it was a struggle often to accept my own son’s condition and to see him lose his abilities slowly. I struggle with time management, working full time, being a full time caregiver and trying to meet my own needs as well as the needs of my family. I have had to learn to manage my anger and accept some of it. It is important to me that Mike accepts himself, so I had to also learn that. I would say I have learned the meaning of grace, courage, discipline and sacrifice. My son has been my teacher.
                     It reminds me of a phone conversation with one of my sisters about acceptance. She told me that I have not accepted everything. I said she was correct. I accept things that cannot be helped but those that can be helped, cause me great distress and sometimes anger. Acceptance… I suppose my definition may seem very black and white, but it is my way of prioritizing what is important to me. Yes, I am far from perfect, but I do strive to be true to myself so that I may true to others.

 

Reprint permission with author’s permission @ fiddlinsuz@roadrunner.com

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