For a long time, Ben and his parents did not know what was wrong with him, why he couldn’t keep up with the other 10-year-olds in his class, and his gym teacher picked on him for always running out of breath. Then he was referred to Dr. Sanico, an allergist, and finally found out: he has exercise-induced asthma, along with other seasonal and food allergies.
“Ever since he was little, we noticed he had pneumonia off and on and trouble with breathing,” says Jennifer, Ben’s mom. “But he didn’t have the typical asthma symptoms, so a lot of the doctors missed it.” Now that Ben’s been properly diagnosed and is receiving adequate treatment, he knows that physical activity will trigger his asthma and that further contact with tree pollen could exacerbate the symptoms. But that doesn’t interfere with his activities.
After meeting Haruki Nakamura, the NFL Baltimore Ravens safety, Ben realizes his condition should not prevent him from performing as well as his peers and doing the things he loves most. Nakamura, a long-time asthma sufferer, had many hospital stays as a child and knows what it is like to be in Ben’s shoes.
“Ninety-nine percent of the team didn’t have it and didn’t understand. They thought I was just trying to find ways to get out of practice,” he told a group of kids at the Asthma Conference Ben attended last year. Listening to Nakamura’s story struck a chord of inspiration in Ben; after speaking with the football player some more, he felt empowered to stand up to his gym teacher and inform him about his allergies and asthma.
The treatment from his allergist and his increased awareness about his condition has turned Ben’s life around. “It’s been amazing, the change,” says Jennifer. “Less visits to the emergency room, less visits to the doctors, and just a happier child and a happier mom.” And Ben has a new hero. “I will be adding Haruki’s football jersey to my wardrobe of sports figures I admire,” he says.
This patient successfully found relief after seeing an allergist, but the patient’s photograph is not available to respect the patient’s privacy and identity.