Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shot Day

Spring is a good reminder for our family about allergies. Each one of us has our own cross to bear as the trees bud and the grasses rise up from the once wintered landscape. It is an especially tough time for Zachary. Airborne allergens drop his immunities, asthma sets in and before you know it, we are battling bronchitis or worse. And so spring is a battle against allergens so we stay ahead and we live healthy. For Zachary, the inspiration behind 40for40, two things have made huge impacts in his battle for health over the last two years -- swim team and shot day.

Northern Virginia is like no other place I've been when it comes to swimming. The summer brings warmth to our region and as the school year ends, hundreds of pools are active with competitors from pre-K to young adult stroking their way through practices, preparing for Saturday competitions in one of the 18 divisions in the Northern Virginia Swim League. For Zachary, the competition is greater than a race for ribbons and medals. Every stroke and every lap means extra lung capacity to keep the immunities up and the oxygen levels high in his blood stream. The awards that he will get this summer and the summers to come with our team, the Division 1 Tuckahoe Tigers, really is just icing on the cake.

The benefits of swimming are palpable and obvious. Since 2009, we have had a barometer with which to measure the progress. Every week, we head to our oasis in Bethesda, the Institute for Asthma and Allergy to visit our friends and get a booster shot against airborne allergens. Before every shot, Zach blows into a peak-flow meter to check his lung capacity. Prior to joining the swim team, 120 liters per minute was a high end reading. After daily swim practices began, Zachary popped up to a 175 l/min and has been 150+ ever since.

As for shot day, the only downside is a little bit of pain in each arm. But the benefits are many and go well beyond the emergency room trips that we have avoided. For Zach and for me, the benefits include a special trip that he and I take together each week. This week, Zachary is hard at play, creating a new scene amidst the palms and sands of his pirate island, while I reflect on the progress he is making. It really is a special time for us - an early rise, a bowl of cereal, some good tunes in the car and general camaraderie to start our day. No one likes a shot, but this shot really brings us together. At least one of us is happy that today is shot day.

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