Skip to content

Houston Asthma Walk, Post #2

March 22, 2005

It was just another day of school.  In PE, we were doing my favorite activity, relay races.  I loved relay races, because over short distances, I was fast and strong.  Running made me happy.  If you ran fast enough it was like flying.  I was on the first leg.  Always the first leg, because I was terrible at picking up the baton, and did better at passing it off.  I could get our team a good strong lead to start off, a good thing when you had to rely on three other people to complete the race for you.  I remember taking off.  I remember pulling away, feeling the wind blowing, racing against it instead of my classmates.  Halfway through my section, I suddenly felt tired.  My arms and legs didn’t want to move anymore.  My lungs closed up, and I felt as if someone were squeezing my chest.  I faltered.  I could hear the girls waiting at the pass off point, screaming, yelling encouragement at their teammates.  I pushed myself, finally managing to pass off the baton before collapsing.  I remember the way the grass had been worn away from the dirt beneath by the hundreds of feet that ran over it each day.  I remember one of the girls standing over me and hearing her over the wheeze of my own breath.  I wasn’t scared.  I was in shock.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah.  I’m fine.  I just can’t breathe.”

In 1989, I became a statistic.  I was part of a spike in asthma cases in the Houston area due to increased pollution.  Today, 1 in 8 children in the Houston area has asthma.  In some areas of the country, 1 in 5 children are afflicted.  For years, asthma was the misunderstood bastard child of childhood disorders.  Despite being the number one reason for missing school due to chronic illness, despite the amount of time and money spent simply controlling the disorder, despite it being the top reason for a child to be admitted to an emergency room, it was simply not seen as serious enough.  It was an annoyance.  Something PE teachers and school nurses were frustrated by.  Something principals frowned upon, because it gave the students an excuse to carry drugs around at school with them.  When I first began doing research on asthma, the information available through the mainstream media was negligible.  When I came around to doing another paper on asthma, the numbers being used were the same ones that had been produced years before.  The article didn’t use updated numbers because there were none.  No one was interested.  Asthma simply wasn’t serious enough to do major studies on.  And for most doctors, there simply wasn’t enough knowledge about the disorder to properly treat the average patient.  None of that meant anything to me as a child.  What I knew on that hot day on the track behind my elementary school, was that I couldn’t fly anymore.

Tomorrow:  Principal Poor Intentions

To donate to me, visit

To donate to the team, visit

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: