Tell me what I can do, tell me how I can help her.
Through our daughters, we have essentially lived with asthma for 17 years. Our oldest daughter, Gabriela, was born premature and with asthma, she is 17 now. Our youngest daughter, Jimena, who is now 15, was also born with asthma. In addition to having asthma, Jimena has autism and a heart condition.
It’s really difficult for your child to be given a diagnosis like asthma. You think, asthma, wow, this is for her entire life. It can feel defeating and overwhelming. But you have to know, as we have figured out, that with the right help, patience and understanding – it is controllable.
Sixteenth Street was so crucial to ours and Jimena’s journey with asthma. When she was diagnosed, Maria and Gerardo (asthma educators) were immediately by our side. They came to our house and did studies to identify triggers and figure out ways to create a better environment for Jimena’s asthma. They gave us special sheets, mattress and pillow covers and other tools. Little by little, we learned her triggers and we learned how to better avoid them. We figured out that cold and changing temperatures greatly affected her, we learned we couldn’t use strong smelling liquids, had to be especially careful with mold and could not, under any circumstance, smoke around her. We could call Maria or Gerardo at any moment if we had a question, problem or needed help. It was a long process. But they supported us through. Often times, you have to fail in order to learn about triggers or the best way to avoid them. It is trial and error. It requires a lot of patience, but it is worth it in the end.
At first Jimena also required a lot of medication, and frequently. She was on a machine that administered her albuterol every two hours, twenty-four hours per day, among other treatments. It was a lot to handle at once – making sure we were on top of her medications, observing for triggers and at the same time trying to avoid the triggers we knew. We had many trips to the hospital. But again – we weren’t alone. Dr. Arana, Jimena’s pediatrician at Sixteenth Street, was right there beside us.
Dr. Arana made our life with medications as easy as it could be. She helped me get them, was always re-evaluating and checking in to see that Jimena had what she needed. When Jimena was hospitalized for an episode, Dr. Arana was frequently there, stopping by at 6 am before going to work to make sure she was ok. Often, there were issues with Jimena’s charts and because Dr. Arana was there and knows Jimena so well, she could correct them and make sure nothing fell through the cracks. We place our complete trust in Dr. Arana. Her word is our final word on any decision. There was even a time when two specialists disagreed about an issue, and Dr. Arana came in to mediate and help decide. Not to our surprise, her conclusion was correct.
Dr. Arana makes herself available to Jimena always and we couldn’t have made the progress we have without her.
Today Jimena is off the machine for her asthma and has been medication free for the last year. We can recognize and react to her symptoms immediately and she can tell when she does and doesn’t need her medication.
We are proud of how we, and she, have progressed and are so thankful for the support and attention at Sixteenth Street. Asthma is difficult because there is no magic formula. No one thing that works for everyone. It takes time, attention and a long period of learning. In order to find control, you have to make changes. You have to adjust for what’s best for your child with asthma. Many people want to continue with their same rhythm of life – but it’s not possible. Life has to change.
In all that has happened, instead of getting negative, the same thing comes to my mind. Tell me what I can do for her. Tell me how I can help her. With Dr. Arana, Gerardo and Maria, we have been able to get those answers and Jimena is living happily in control of her asthma.