It is the dreaded time of season where snot flows from our children’s noses, cheeks are red and flush, coughs are at times dry and other times moist and productive, and fevers are spiking left and right. Flu and cold season happens every single year. Each year it is a struggle for all of us to keep our children well, but I need to make a plea to you this year. If you have an otherwise healthy child that is ill, please keep your child at home for at least 24 hours after their symptoms have passed. I want to share with you a few things about why it is so important for the community of medically fragile parents that you help us keep our children healthy and alive
1. Your Child’s wet and productive cough – could mean a ventilator for another child
It’s hard to know when a cough is just a cough, or if it is going to turn in to bronchitis, pneumonia, RSV, or even Pertussis. Coughs and respiratory infections are hard on any child. Children have small airways and lungs that are not as efficient as adults. It is harder for them to clear the congestion than an adult. However, for a child with Cystic Fibrosis, congenital heart defect, low muscle tone, asthma, reactive airway disease, or chronic lung disease, this cough could have them in the hospital for a lengthy stay. My own son spent 17 days in the PICU at 3 months old because he was exposed to a cold. He spent 6 of those days on life support and almost died. Most recently, I have witnessed several friends have their infants hospitalized for weeks at a time because of RSV. RSV can kill any infant, but it is even more serious if your child is medically fragile. In fact when my son was in the PICU in 2013, our next door neighbor on the floor passed away from RSV. Please take your child to their pediatrician to ensure that what they have is nothing that could seriously harm them or any one else that they expose.
2. Your Child’s low grade fever could be sign of a bacterial infection or contagious virus
There are so many reasons that kids get fevers, and fevers can range from anything above 98.6 to spiking up to 104 degrees. Anytime the body has an elevated temperature it is likely fighting a virus or a bacterial infection. Many schools will even allow you to send your child to school if the fever is below 101 degrees. However, a fever of 100 could be a sign of Strep throat which is a bacterial infections. According to Health Grades Website, a low grade fever in a child can also be a symptom of chickenpox, fifths disease, measles, mumps, whooping cough, ear infections or a sinus infection. Your child may not have a fever high enough to stay home from school, but they could most certainly be spreading something very serious to other children. My son was 15 months and in-between shots for Pertussis. He has received 2 of the 3 total to be vaccinated. At the time we were behind in his shots, as many medically fragile children are, because he had been too unwell for most vaccinations as a baby. He was exposed to Pertussis. Thankfully we caught it very quickly, and I made a call to his pediatrician immediately. However, he was still so sick for over 2 weeks and vomited nearly every time he coughed. The infection ripped up his lungs so badly that we spent the next 2 years doing daily nebulizer treatment to help repair the inflamed and scarred tissue. His lungs just were not able to recover the way a healthy child’s lungs would.
3. Your Child’s Stomach Bug could kill a medically fragile Child
Most children that are medically fragile are dependent on medication to work in order for their diseases to remain in check. My son takes cortisol to manage his Adrenal Insufficiency, but there are other diseases where children rely on their bodies ability to absorb medication. A stomach bug of vomiting or nausea, could send a child like mine in to the ER. Last year we were admitted for a couple days of IV treatment to help him settle his stomach. This past fall we had to go in overnight for zofran and an IV to help him metabolize his medication. We have been very lucky that nothing has happened worse than this for our son. Most recently a 6 year old child in the Adrenal Insufficiency community lost his life to a stomach bug. We rely on our friends and family to be diligent in not exposing our children to these bugs, and we ask you that you exercise caution when sending your child to school. According to Parents Magazine your child is contagious until they are no longer vomiting and if they had diarrhea until their stool appears fully formed. I know this can be really stressful because these can linger, but sending your child anywhere while contagious could put others lives at risk.
I know it’s so hard to schedule time off work, and I get that things have to get back to normal. Trust me, I was a full time working mom at one point too. I also know that life is very precious, and it’s our responsibility as parents to not only keep our own children well but to protect other people’s children from illness too. School work can be caught up on, play dates can wait, missing a week of church won’t put you in God’s bad grace, and your errands can wait. This is truly a public service plea that you help those of us that depend on you to help us keep our children alive. We need you to be on our team! We want our kids to grow up to be big and to eventually reach adulthood. None of us want to lose a child to something that could have been prevented. I know it’s hard, but please just try to put yourself in our shoes. Most of us are just trying to hang on for another day with our kids, and we would appreciate it if you could help us reach that goal.
A Momma of a Medically Fragile Child