My heart was thumping painfully as I ran across the garden, stumbled up the few steps to the house and pushed urgently against the heavy door that separated me from my mother, I tumbled into the kitchen, gasping for breath and my words came out all jumbled tumbling like tennis balls across the floor.
“Quick… Mama, Sophie... Wrong... Come…Mama.”
My mother was at my side in an instant. She heard the terror in my voice even if she could not decipher the meaning of my garbled sentence, placing her hands on my shoulders she bent to my level.
“What is it Jennie? Where is Sophie? What has happened?” She gave me a little shake with each question.
There were too many questions, I could not hold them all in my head, I just knew that I was way out of my depth. I was only 10 years old and I needed an adult to take charge and help me.
I couldn't speak but I grabbed her hand and tugged hard and urgently. Her hand was wet and slippery. A picture flashed into my mind of my mother squeezing the washing up liquid into the sink and as my sister and I had skipped past.
I loved my little sister Sophie with a deep devotion. I did not suffered from the jealousy that an older sibling sometimes experiences at the arrival of new family member, I never told my mother to put the baby back again, I delighted in being a little mommy, holding the warm towel when Sophie was bathed and then rocking her to sleep by singing cradle songs of my own composition.
But now Sophie was no longer a baby, she was 4 years old and something terrible was happening to her.
A screeching rasping sound led us towards Sophie long before we saw her; it was this frightening noise that had caused me to run for help so different from the usual wailing tired, hungry or in pain cries that I could read and understand. It was a horrible scary sound and I could not believe that it was coming from my little sister.
I clutched my mothers hand tightly frightened to go nearer but she hurried forward to Sophie who was was sitting upright with her back against the big tree. Sophie’s chest was moving up and down rapidly as if she was climbing a huge hill but otherwise she was very still.
Mother gathered her up quickly and carried her into the house. I trailed behind miserable and confused.
Doctor Watson, our family doctor, came to see Sophie. He had known me since I was a baby and he knew how much I cared for my little sister.
I was sitting dejectedly on the stairs when Dr Watson came out of the bedroom.
“It is ok Jennie, Sophie is fine now, she has something called Asthma and that strange sound she was making is called a wheeze.”
"Why does asthma make her wheeze Doctor?”
“Well when someone has asthma the little air passages sometimes get narrow and when they try to breathe in and out the air makes that sound. It‘s like when you blow out into a whistle, it's just is a squeaky sound like that”.
“So will it come back again?”
“Yes it might and if you hear the wheezing it is a warning just like a train whistle tells us the train is coming, the wheeze is a message that Sophie needs treatment.”
“What treatment will she need?”
“I have given her an inhaler that is the little tube and it has medicine in it that will help her”
I breathe a sigh of relief. I didn’t understand everything the doctor was saying i did understand that my little sister was ok and that there was nothing to be afraid about.
I went into the bedroom Sophie and breathing quietly and normally. The inhaler machine is on the side table.
My mum opened her arms to me.
“You did good sweetheart,” my mum whispered.
She smiles at me I feel safe and happy as she enfolds me in a hug.
"Its OK mama it is just Asthma mama; the doctor told me all about it”.
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