Yesterday my daughter’s achy body, cough, and chest hurting increased and as the way she felt worsened, my worry increased along with her symptoms.
It’s like the Universe knows it’s been a while since a Holiday urgent care or ER visit for us, we ended up doing that very thing on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Apparently lots of Influenza A out there on the Holiday. Our insurance company helpfully recommended we visit an affiliate location and we were in with the within 30 minutes of filling out the paperwork. She was swiftly swabbed and there we were, facing the literal dreaded flu for anyone with a compromised immune system, and maybe more so dreaded for my girl, who suffers from anxiety.
“Am I going to die?”
My daughter didn’t need to see anything else to come up with that question. All you have to do is watch the local or national news to know that the flu is running rampant through the country. Or you can do what I do during flu season and look up the updated CDC map that covers your state. Today, don’t bother looking, “widespread” is pretty much what all of us in the U.S. are facing, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, and DC notwithstanding, this week.
“No, you’re not. We’re here early. I’ll call the transplant team and there will be a plan if you get worse and we’ll admit you to the hospital if you don’t start improving right away.”
I say that as calmly as I say all of the statements I do regarding her health and physical well-being, and I state it with certainty. I repeat it. We do not mess around with either of our children and their immune systems and we’re aggressive with things that could wreak havoc on their bodies, their kidneys.
Their weak immune systems are the payoff we get for them to live free from a catheter inserted into their body hooked up to a dialysis machine to keep them alive. We’re proactive and aggressive with any diagnosis and treatments, specifically because we want our kids to do the same in the years to come.
“But am I going to die?” She asks.
This is the result of a too active anxiety mind, the news of deaths due to preventable diseases and illnesses, a weakened immune system and reports that antivax people avoid any and all vaccinations. Families like ours depend on others to stay safe with vaccinations so our kids are safe. When you don’t get a flu shot (yes, we also know all types of flus are not covered with the flu shot each year but it is better than nothing), it puts others – it puts my kids’ lives – at risk. Get vaccinated. If the situation were reversed, our family – and my sweet daughter who asked if the flu is going to kill her – would absolutely do it for you.
As a parent, we can’t really know how a report, or something our kids overhear us speaking about may impact them. We can only know that it does, when it happens. While I can do everything in my power to dispel and validate her thoughts about what may happen to her because of her immune system or transplanted kidney or diseased liver, I can’t do much but try to help her finds ways to cope. She will always be the only one who can deal with it in her way inside of her, and hopefully a healthy way, if we can help get her the tools from which to pick.
Having the hard conversations is what we do, we parents of kids who live life differently. I wish I could say I was shocked about my kid talking about death so pointedly, but I am not. I’ve been having these types of talks for a long time and I’ve gotten less shocked, more calm, less upset and more thoughtful. I have learned to help carry the burden, the weight of what I can, in hopes to ease theirs. I hope sometimes what I say resonates with her more than the gravity of her situation can sometimes do in the living of her life.
“No, you’re not going to die. Not today. You’re going to have a long, beautiful life.”
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