This is a picture of a bill from one of Gigi’s hospital stays because she caught a cold. Just a common virus. $31,000. This was a year-and-a-half ago but I’m still not over it. She was hospitalized for almost 2 weeks. Thank goodness we have insurance. The cost isn’t the point but it does show the gravity of the interventions and treatments that she needed because she simply caught a virus. And I’m not even going to scratch the surface and go into the details with sick Gigi pictures, tests and xrays, and her sisters not having their mom home the entire time. This isn’t uncommon with Down syndrome. In fact, during the two times that Gigi was hospitalized for respiratory illness she had roommates with Down syndrome. And Gigi is considered quite healthy; there are others with Down syndrome that are much more vulnerable.
I feel like people roll their eyes sometimes when I start talking about my fear of germs but I know a lot of other moms, especially those with kids with Down Syndrome, would agree that catching a cold is a scary thing. Our kids’ immune systems just aren’t as strong as others. Their low muscle tone results in difficulty coughing up mucus from the lungs, therefore it settles and infects them resulting in issues that require hospitalization. Their small passageways in their nose and ears also make them more prone to infection.
I know you can’t avoid the common cold and I know I shouldn’t isolate myself or my kids during cold and flu season, however this is one thing that I do because it often works. And I do agree that exposure to colds builds up your immunity. As a parent I have to do what I can to protect the health of my child right now. In the least, a common cold means a number of sleepless nights for us since the smallest post nasal drip causes swelling and difficulty breathing leading to having to sleep sitting up with Gigi. But unfortunately sometimes a cold can do dangerous things.
Before I had Gigi I didn’t think much about my kids getting sick but now I worry about even the older two because once one of my girls gets sick then it’s all over. There’s no way to contain the germ in the house. In the wintertime I avoid playdates altogether. Even if you’re not showing symptoms you could be carrying something. I know, now I sound really crazy. Trust me, I wish that I could invite friends over for a playdate and have a cup of tea with a mom, we all need socialization but I just can’t do it. Thank goodness I have friends that understand this.
If you have a little friend with Down syndrome, or is immune compromised, or even simply a newborn, here’s what you can do to help:
- Cancel the playdate if you or your child is sick.
- If you have a playdate or party that you are invited to and your child is sick, please don’t put the host on the spot and ask them what they’d like you to do. Make the decision to not attend so that you don’t infect others.
- Sick children should not attend school. You don’t want to get the teacher sick, or their classmates. Even if all of the classmates are considered healthy you never know what family members they have that may be immune compromised.
Gigi is going to start school in about a month and I know I can’t isolate her. I just hope that with her being a little bit older she’ll be able to handle these colds and battling them will just make her stronger. Maybe in a year or so I’ll be more relaxed, but in the meantime I’ll see you in the Spring.