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Talking about the Realities with our Kids

dialysis for kidsMe: “MRSA can be deadly, you know.”

Gage: “Yeah, Quinn, I’ve had that too.”

Simultaneously Quinnlin: “WHAT?” and Julian: “Don’t tell her that.”

Me: “It’s the truth. It’s not like we can hide those facts Julian, plus we have to tell them the risks. We can’t protect them forever.”

Julian: “Geez.”

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I brought my daughter to the E.R. on a Sunday before Memorial Day a few years ago because A) We always end up in the E.R. on a Holiday weekend and B) She had a nasty looking spider bite. It was raised and red and hot and hard to the touch and in the back of my mind I sort of knew it was probably MRSA but spider sounded less scary and so I went with that.

It was, of course, MRSA. Also known as the scary, hard-spelling name “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus” which is known to send fear into the hearts of many immunosuppressed people and their parents. It’s horrible to fight off, and can mean days in the hospital for kids like ours. Gage ended up in the hospital for almost a week when he had it and we tried the E.R. twice to drain it.

I thought a lot about this conversation because I always wonder if I throw too much at the kids too soon. Did I give their brains too much to handle as they aged? For their development? Does sharing the truth and so much information make it easier or harder on them?

The truth is I haven’t a clue. I can only do what I promised both kids a long time ago, that I would always be honest with them about their healthcare. One of the rules in our caregiver/caregivee relationship is that we’re honest with each other. They have to trust that I will have their backs when they need it and I have to trust that they will be honest with me so I can make informed decisions with them about their healthcare. As they age this is even more important because hopefully they’re learning.

Telling my kids they are more susceptible to get a deadly infection isn’t at all what I’d pictured my life to be like before I had kids. There are days when I feel like I am just monitoring the Dos and Don’ts of living a life-like theirs…

  • Take your meds!
  • Get regular labs!
  • Let’s go to your regular kidney (and liver) clinic visits!
  • Wear sunscreen!
  • Stay out of the sun if possible!
  • Wash your hands!
  • Don’t touch that bird!
  • Don’t feed the birds!
  • Don’t touch that ______!
  • So and so is sick, so you can’t see them today!
  • Listen to your body…

There are some days I can’t believe the conversations I must have with my kids, but then I realize I can only do what I think is best and helps prepare them. It’s hard to talk about death and the realities of a disease that is unpredictable.

Even though it’s hard, honesty always wins.

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Tips on talking to your kids about the harsh realities of their condition/treatments.

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This is part of the NaBloPoMo program for people writing on their sites everyday in November.

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