For the past several weeks Brayden has literally been quarantined inside, both at home and at school. The only time he has been outside is to get in and out of the car, and even then it’s “Hurry up, it’s smokey!”

We’ve been tremendously affected by the fires in California, especially the Rim Fire outside of Yosemite. While it might be clear down there in the valley, all the smoke has been blowing straight up here to us in Reno. It’s been horrible! And it’s not just affecting us, the smoke has settled in around Lake Tahoe and Truckee too, so unless we want to drive for a few hours, there’s really no escaping it.

Brayden hasn’t been able to come with me to drop Zackery off at school in the mornings, because it’s too smokey to be outside waiting for the bell to ring (luckily on the really bad days, Zack’s school has let the kids inside for indoor recess, because even for kids without asthma it’s too much). Brayden has had to wait with me in the car when we pick Zack up from school, instead of playing outside by his classroom door, and when we all get home, it’s straight inside the house with the A/C on (thank goodness for that!).

On the days that Brayden goes to school, it’s only inside play time for him, while most of the other kids get to go outside (again, except on the really bad days where they keep all the kids inside). I feel bad, having to keep him inside like that, but with his allergies and being prone to asthma, it’s best.

Saturday, however, the air quality dropped from Unhealthy to Moderate, at a level of 67 (the lowest we had seen here in a long time – relatively speaking). Will and I decided to take the boys to the park and let them run around. We all needed some outside time, and with a slight breeze, blue skies, and actual white, puffy clouds (as opposed to an ominous brown haze), we thought it would be a good idea to get outside while we could.

After an hour or so at the park, we came home, had a quick snack and then went next door for a quick swim in our neighbor’s pool. By that time it wasn’t terribly hot anymore, and the water was not as warm as it usually is (probably because the smokey haze has been filtering the sun just enough to not heat the water as much), but none the less it was nice to be in the pool for a quick swim.

That night, Brayden started to develop a little cough. Oh great, here we go again. We gave him an extra breathing treatment with his nebulizer, but I have to admit I was not feeling confident. By Sunday night he was done, up most of the night with a pretty bad cough and complaining of his ear hurting. What did we do? Talk about feeling guilty, just for taking him outside on a relatively “clear” day.

With Monday being Labor Day, and the Pediatrician’s office being closed, Will got him in to see the Doctor on call at the after-hours Pediatrician. Sure enough, he had an ear infection. Poor guy. And here are Will and I, feeling completely guility for exposing him to unhealthy air.

Now he is on day four of his antibiotics and his nebulizer up to seven times a day. Geesh, I know! He is definitely feeling better, and actually at school today (after staying home with me earlier in the week), but I told his teachers to please keep him inside, again. Sorry Brayden, I know you want to go outside and play, so do I.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, maybe there isn’t one. I guess when it comes down to it, you can trust your gut (like taking Brayden outside on Saturday), but it might not be the best decision in the long run. Lesson learned. Next time we will wait until the air quality is way back down to good before we venture outside for more than ten minutes. For now, it’s letting the boys run wild inside – racing up and down the hallway – and being a little more flexible with how I encourage them to burn off their energy.

I hope you are staying healthy where ever you are.