Not Majoring in Minor Health Moments

Danita LaShelle Jones avatar

by Danita LaShelle Jones |

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The familiar number flashed across my phone screen, and I audibly groaned. After a particularly arduous morning dealing with late school buses, forgotten lunches, and a few involved errands, I had finally reached a moment where everything settled. Yet the sound of my phone vibrating against the table yanked me into reality.

The school of my oldest daughter (nicknamed Ladybug) was calling. And while it sounds impossible for a heart to race and sink simultaneously, mine did. Within milliseconds, my brain rattled off several questions. “How bad is the flare?” “Is the new medicine not working?” “Do I need to grab the hospital bag?” I began to formulate how to report this incident, whatever it was, to her immunologist. She probably had a setback, and that’s why I was getting called.

After switching to Takhzyro (lanadelumab-flyo), a subcutaneous preventative therapy, we began seeing improvements in Ladybug’s hereditary angioedema (HAE). Her frequent symptoms had somewhat subsided, her need for Berinert had decreased, and we hadn’t seen the inside of the ER in over a month. But now, my phone was vibrating, erasing all my hope for improvements and better days.

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I gingerly picked it up, taking a deep breath to prepare for what I would hear.

“Mom?” Ladybug said in a breathy tone.

“Yes, sweetie,” I replied as I reached for my keys. I had no idea what I was about to have to do, but I knew it was something.

“Can you bring me my inhaler? I forgot it at home.”

Her inhaler? Why would she need … I gasped inwardly.

She has asthma.

The epiphany rang so loud in my brain that I thought I had yelled it. With everything that comes with her HAE, I had forgotten entirely about her asthma.

Apparently, after a rousing kickball game in PE, Ladybug discovered she had forgotten to put her inhaler in her backpack that morning. And while she wasn’t in any immediate danger, she needed me to bring it to her.

Nearly an hour later, I stood in the school lobby in silence as she took two puffs from her inhaler, gave me a brief hug, and skipped down the hallway. My anxiety, questions, and overplanning during a cellphone ring seemed silly as I watched her disappear around the corner.

I sat with my head on the steering wheel in the school parking lot, flooded with every emotion as I struggled with the idea that I had forgotten she had asthma. How could I forget? She takes preventive medication every day, occasionally takes a nebulizer breathing treatment, and every four months, she has a checkup with her pulmonologist. It’s a part of our daily lives! It’s a chronic illness!

“Well,” my brain inaccurately autocorrected, “not chronic, chronic. It’s rarely a problem anymore.”

I lifted my head at the “aha!” moment. That was how it had slipped my mind. I had demoted asthma to a lower tier of worry solely because it was under control. Even if she has a respiratory issue, it doesn’t take nearly as much effort to resolve. Had I just picked up the phone without internally panicking, I could’ve saved myself the adrenaline rush.

HAE comes with so many other complicated symptoms and warning signs that I have many conversations with Ladybug in which we must execute a differential diagnosis. But when a separate medical issue arises, it’s almost jarring. Because everything seems so significant most days, there are times I forget that some of her challenges are minor, and the solution is simple.

Sometimes it’s just a headache, a stuffy nose, or a sore throat. And I find that if I relax long enough to figure out the problem, I can stop making everything major and find relief in the minor moments.

Note: Angioedema News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angioedema News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to angioedema.


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