By Abbie Cornett
Parents with a primary immune deficiency (PI) face certain challenges that other parents take in stride. Last week, I was at work when I got the dreaded call from the school nurse: My daughter was in the office with a bad cough and a temperature. While all parents who hear this news go into crisis mode, worrying: How high of a temperature? Does she need to see a doctor? Do I have to leave work early? Those of us with a PI ask ourselves: Do I have any time off left? Can my husband get her? And, God forbid, is it contagious?
All of these things raced through my mind. Time off isn’t an issue for me now as it has been in the past. My current job is wonderful. My husband is much closer to school and can pick her up. But, contagious? That’s more complicated. I’ve always taken a wait-and-see approach with my kids’ maladies. Sometimes they come and go with no adverse effects for anyone in the household, including me; other times, not so much.
In the past 13 years, my children have given me a plethora of childhood diseases beyond the common cold and flu, which no adult should have to endure. A few of my least favorites: rotavirus, whopping cough and RSV, two of which resulted in extended hospital stays and one in misery. I will let you guess which was which.
This time, I knew I was in trouble. When I got home, not one, but all three of my children and my husband were sick to varying degrees. This meant it was not just contagious, but really contagious!!! Any normal person would have looked at their red flushed faces, runny noses, watery eyes and coughing selves and wanted to run away, let alone someone with an immune deficiency.
But parents aren’t normal people when it comes to taking care of their children; all common sense flies out of the window. So I waded into the mess and started wiping noses, administering medicine and taking temperatures. And when my little one looked at me and said please cuddle me, there was no way I was going to say no. My husband, on the other hand, was on his own; marital devotion only goes so far when it comes to the flu!
Needless to say, it’s more than a week since the dreaded phone call from school. My family is all feeling better; the virus was a non-event for them. I, on the other hand, am on my second round of antibiotics, I sound like Elmer Fudd and I feel like death warmed over. I ask myself: Was it worth it? The only answer I can come up with is an unequivocal yes! For me, being a mother trumps being sick any day.
How do you care for a loved one when they are sick?