By Abbie Cornett
As a patient with an immune deficiency, I have been sick a good portion of my life. I can honestly say that I don’t scare easily, and I don’t run from anything. My normal way of dealing with things is to attack the problem and, frequently, whatever is causing the problem. While I acknowledge this is not necessarily the best way to handle things, it is my way of coping with situations that are beyond my control. I pride myself on facing life head on. “No fear” is my mantra!
Why, then, am I here at home writing this blog instead of at the immunologist’s office with my youngest daughter? It’s simple: I am scared! I don’t want to face the fact that she may have inherited my immune deficiency. I have finally found something I want to run screaming from!
I have been running from this possibility for nine years now. Unlike my twins, who were hardly ever sick and didn’t get their first prescription for antibiotics until they started school, my little one had her first ear/sinus infection at 6 months old. Since then, she has had frequent sinus infections that have led to a couple of surgeries and a tonsillectomy.
The infections were not that close together, and she recovered quickly. The doctors weren’t worried, so I kept telling myself I wasn’t worried. I ignored the fact that for years I became increasingly sick more often before I was diagnosed.
Now, the time between infections and sick days for my baby have grown closer and closer. And, I just heard the words I have lived in fear of with all my children: “It’s time to test her for an immune deficiency.”
Working as the patient advocate for IG Living magazine, I know on an intellectual level that the odds are against her having an immune deficiency; while immune deficiencies can run in families, it is rare. It’s likely that allergies are at the root of her infections. But, fear isn’t intellectual, it’s emotional.
This fear has led me to question everything, including myself. Why, of all people, have I been passive about the possibility of her having an immune deficiency? Does she really have an immune system problem, or am I projecting my health problems on her? I feel guilty because I know if she is sick, it’s my fault!
These feelings of fear and guilt may never be fully answered. But I know I will be at the next doctor’s appointment, and the question of whether she has an immune deficiency will be answered and faced head on. Regardless on my fears!