By Jessica Smartt, Contributing Writer
When my son was 18 months old, I put him down for his afternoon nap. Nothing unusual, except he had a bad cold, and was feeling yucky. Thirty minutes later, I heard him wake up, uncomfortable.
When I walked into the room, I was shocked at what I saw.
He was coughing – not just coughing – gasping through every breath. His ribs and neck muscles were retracting. He was trying to talk, but had to gasp before every couple of words.
I’m a compulsive worrier, but this time, I knew there was something wrong. I called my mom, buckled him with shaky hands, and rushed to the doctor.
A few long hours later, we took a memorable ambulance ride to the downtown children’s hospital, where we stayed for two days, until his oxygen levels rose back to normal.
Here’s where I get to my confession part.
Since that (terrifying) day four years ago, my son has been off and on a slew of various asthma medications. Inhaled cortisteroids, albuterhol…
And it gets worse.
Once or twice a year, we have to give my son oral steroids. Prednisone. Even the word makes my stomach lurch. I know it’s bad because even the mainstream medical professionals – the “un-crunchy” crowd – hate using this stuff.
Please do not remind me how horrible this medicine is.
I know it every time we have to give it. I know it every time we totter near giving it, when my husband and I get on our knees (literally – how many times have we been on our knees for this child?), and we beg God to open his airways, to keep his lungs healthy, to let us not have to give us this awful medicine.
Sometimes it works: the prayers, the oils, the diet changes, the supplements – maybe all working together. Sometimes we’re spared, and his breathing returns to normal.
I cannot tell you how deeply I feel like a failure using these medicines. Nothing feels worse to a crunchy mom than her efforts not working. Of course, I have a long, long list of remedies and helps and aids that I have eagerly tried. They often help, but none for us has been a once-and-for-all cure. We deal with life-threatening food allergies, and trust me – that is crazy difficult.
But this? This is the worst. When you try so desperately to fix something…and you can’t. Maybe you don’t have a child with asthma and bear the frustration of that awful disease.
Perhaps you can relate to my frustration?
A pesky sinus infection, a surgery you just can’t put off, resistant ear infections in a little one … or maybe something worse. Maybe you deal with a chronic ailment that may (or may not) respond to all your crunchy methodology.
If you’ve been there, I feel for you. Here are some things I’ve learned as a crunchy-mama-in-the-journey.
- Just because you need some “conventional” medication, doesn’t mean your efforts are all in vain. Sometimes I will be so sure that my latest concoction will just cure my son’s asthma for good, and it doesn’t. I’ll whine to my husband, Why don’t we just give up, and put him on five different medicines, and let him eat whatever junk food he wants? None of it does any good anyway! And my sweet husband will remind me (as he often does in my embarrassing struggles): Sweetie. It is working. It is helping. Sometimes it’s just a big battle to fight. But you’re doing a great job.
- Just because something “natural” isn’t working, doesn’t mean there isn’t a natural cure. Just because you haven’t found the answer, doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer. It is okay to be in process of discovering what can heal the body. Let me repeat that:
It is okay to be in the process of natural living.
There may be people who have “reached” the destination. But for many like me, we are still learning what does and does not work, doing our best as we go along. And that is okay.
- You have to remain upbeat, and open to trying new things. I bet after writing this, I’ll receive a host of asthma tricks and techniques that I’ve never even tried! Instead of being defensive, or embarrassed, or afraid to try this or that, I’m learning to be grateful for yet another option to try!
- Sometimes (and I’m wincing as I tell you this), you just take a deep breath, and do the horrible awful “conventional” thing, and thank the good Lord that you live in an age of modern medicine. Grace, mama. There is grace. I still believe that one day I’ll figure it out, and my son won’t need that steroid once a year. I truly do. But for now? When he needs it? When he’s struggling for breath, and coughs through every word? Friend, I will give this medicine, and I will thank God that I can.
- And finally, I’ve been reminded that natural living is not my Savior. Jesus is. Because I’m a Christian, I take a weird sort of comfort in all my “failures.” Why? Because they remind me that this earth is not my home. That one day – daily dose of cod liver oil or not – I will die. And that’s okay – because I will be with Jesus forever. The struggles we have on earth can serve as a reminder that there is a better life coming.