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Parenting a Child With A Poor Immune System

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
12/13/17  2:46 PM PST
child with a poor immune system

Parenting a Child With A Poor Immune System

My son’s immune system doesn’t work right. The cells that are supposed to recognize and remember the bugs they need to fight seem to have amnesia. The fighter cells don’t get called into action until the germs have long since taken over. A common cold, which might just give you and me the sniffles, gives him the bonus of a sinus or ear infection. And if he’s not so lucky, it might go into his chest and cause bronchitis or pneumonia.

For him there is no common cold.

I shudder to think of him getting influenza, so our family is always first in line for flu shots. Oh, we know there are risks, but for him, influenza could be deadly, so we gladly accept that risk.

And my child with a poor immune system puts us at everyone else’s mercy.

If you sneeze without covering your face, he’s at risk. If you don’t wash your hands after using the bathroom, and he touches the same doorknob you did, he’s at risk.

Every place we go, on the occasions we do go out, we go armed with hand sanitizer, and sometimes even masks and gloves. We wash our hands religiously, to the point where they’re cracked open.

He’s on protective antibiotics that he takes a few times a week to try to keep his ears, nose and chest clear when he does get colds. He sees an immunologist, ear nose and throat doctor, and infectious disease doctor, who all work together to try to keep him as healthy as possible.

And he still gets sick. Really sick.

Sometimes I get scared. What happens when the antibiotics don’t work any more? He’s already had antibiotic resistant infections, requiring “big gun” antibiotics, sometimes being stuck in the hospital to get them by IV. I fear the day that even that won’t work.

And don’t get me started on things like measles and pertussis. Even fully vaccinated, with extra doses, his immune cells — the ones with amnesia — aren’t up to the task of protecting him.

Why am I telling you all this? Because maybe you never realized that there are people like Ben whose bodies are so vulnerable to germs.

And maybe his story will get you to cover a sneeze or a cough, or stay in when you’re sick. Or maybe you won’t run to the med center for antibiotics for every cold you get, which contributes to the declining effectiveness of the drugs that literally save his life.

While I realize that immunizations are a polarizing topic, I want people to know that I have a sweet boy who needs everyone around him to keep him safe from vaccine preventable diseases, and that he isn’t alone.

It’s a really crummy position to be in, to rely on strangers to consider my child. I wish it wasn’t that way, I wish that just with the usual vigilance of handwashing and good hygiene that work for my other kids that he would be fine. I hope that some day the doctors who work so hard at helping us keep him healthy find a way to truly eliminate this problem. Until then, we’re at your mercy.

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1 Comment

  1. Posted October 9, 2019 at 7:06 pm PDT

    Thanks for writing this. I share the same feelings.

    Trying to decide if I if should allow my four year old to remain in school. It’s such a burden because others are not clean and cautious.

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