On Sunday morning, Ethan woke up with a sniffle. Immediately, I felt devastated. As any parent to a child with restrictive airway or another respiratory ailment knows, a sniffle is hardly ever just a sniffle. I had reason for said devastation as a few hours later, the wheeze-rattle-gasp-cough was back with a vengeance. As time goes on, I almost anticipate it to be easier -- you know, out of routine, knowing what to expect -- but this is never true. It's always harder. Something about trying to restrict the activity of a precocious toddler who just wants to run instead of sit for breathing treatments every four hours just doesn't seem to be completely plausible and, yet, when these flare-ups happen, it becomes our reality.
In addition to salt therapy, pediatrician visits, new prescriptions and welcoming back the old, we've been spending each morning at the beach. Ethan hasn't had time to adjust to the time change yet and I haven't seemed to mind. I find myself up half the night anyway, listening to him wheeze over the monitor or making myself sick with worry when his cough turns into a choke that startles him out of sleep. We've been enjoying the prelude to a beautiful Florida winter on the shoreline, breathing in the salt air and letting it cleanse our systems. Despite being unwell, Ethan has been in fantastic spirits. I can't say the same for me -- it's me who has been the mess, sick with worry and tired of this whole routine, tired of the rattling and the wheezing and wishing I could be one of those mothers who sees a sniffle as just a sniffle.
Being at home has been rough. Ethan gets frustrated with the way he coughs and gasps and wheezes when he's just trying to play. He has trouble chewing his food and then swallowing it while still attempting to breathe as best that he can. Sleeping is a fight that makes me cry as much as it does him. No matter how propped his head is atop his pillow, there's still that dripping choke. It feels like sticking my fingers in Ethan's throat to yank out clumps of mucous is part of our new naptime and nighttime sleep ritual. It hasn't been fun, but these beach trips have been a bright spot in our days.
With Ethan's hand in mine, we have walked up and down the shoreline and collected shells that Ethan loves to wash the sand off of, slipping them into his pockets or my pockets or into our diaper bag before we can continue walking. We have watched the sun completely find it's place in the cerulean sky and cast a glare over the placid, calm water. There's something so beautiful about November on the beach and we have been eager to soak up this beauty.
Today has been easier, as all the days inevitably will continue to be. I am determined for our family pictures this weekend to be a success, filled with love and smiles and laughter and not a sign of the disruption that life has currently thrown us in sight. We'll get there, a day at a time, a breathing treatment at a time, finding solace in cool mornings on the sand.