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I’m sharing my story, which is a work in progress, in the hopes of making things better for all families.

From waiting an eternity for doctors’ appointments, to feeling like just another file in a database, my family’s struggle with asthma in DC has been stressful, troublesome and sadly, futile.  Having a child with severe asthma and allergies affects my entire family.  We miss work and school.  We have to make time for several doctors’ appointments, and we have loads of prescriptions to remember to pick up to prevent attacks and ER visits.  The pressure is relentless and the opportunities to alleviate some of those pressures are difficult to locate.

My child has prescriptions for some of the strongest steroids available to kids his age, and is on a daily medicinal regimen that is expected to alleviate his asthma and allergy symptoms.  The problem is – the medicines do not work. On the other hand, it is not that the medicines do not work, it is more that the medicines temporarily make his symptoms go away only to resurface a few hours later. They are temporarily treating the symptoms my child has, without us knowing what the entire list of causes includes.

After several years of appointments, prescriptions, doctors, ER visits, and ICU stays, we have begun to wonder if our goal in this entire process (to be asthma and allergy free) are being acknowledged. Unfortunately, so far we have simply been shuttled around like products on an assembly line.   The list of things we have struggled with goes on and on, but some of the bigger burdens are included in the list below:

  • Long waits for appointments
  • Long wait time at appointments
  • Lack of opportunities to visit with the same physician at each appointment (we are a file)
  • Understaffing of knowledgeable allergy and asthma specialists at the hospitals/clinics we visit
  • Lack of a genuine ‘personalized’ experience
  • Lack of a medical facility, such as the Children’s National main campus, in the area where we live
  • Trouble with pharmacy-to-doctor-to-insurance communication
  • Long waits at the pharmacy
  • Lack of access to specialty doctors
  • Lack of access to alternatives to treatment such as holistic doctors due to insurance
  • Lack of access to rental property managers who are responsible for ensuring our dwelling space has proper ventilation, exhaust fans and working vents
  • Lack of treatment and programs aimed to treat the causes of asthma and allergies in the place of treating symptoms
  • Lack of cooperation from schools that lack the staffing needed to assist students with asthma and allergies
  • Lack of sympathy in workplace from supervisors

We have had trouble in many areas where we feel support should already exist (especially with the high rate of children having asthma and allergy issues in the DC area).  And with this trouble, we have made it our goal to work alongside advocacy groups, and others interested in improving the state of childhood asthma and allergies in the DC area because I’m sure we are not alone in the issues we face in the city.

I look forward to working with other moms, and other groups in the DC area to create more strategies for improved results and access to better care for children in all wards.

- Asthma Mom in SE DC