Because the Other Kids Get Sick, Too
I haplessly fell backward on my bed, blew a sharp breath out of my mouth, and stared at the ceiling.
We had made it to the middle of the week without any incidents with my oldest daughter, nicknamed Ladybug. We hadn’t needed to make a trip to see the pediatrician, we hadn’t been frequent emergency room guests, and she’d made it to the third day of school without me getting a call from the nurse.
On this glorious day, as I watched the fan maintain the perfect rhythm, there was a pause in the medical chaos of the house.
A soft knock on the door made me sit up. Our youngest daughter came into the room to inform me that her throat was hurting again. Unfortunately, it was something that had become quite common with her. She would mention her throat hurting, I would take her to the pediatrician, they would swab her for strep, it would come back negative, and we would go another couple of weeks until the whole cycle started again.
A little later, her twin brother entered my room and, without words, crawled into my lap and put his head on my shoulder. The heat from his fever seeped through my shirt. I sighed as I called the pediatrician, and a few hours later, he was diagnosed with influenza B, a strain that would eventually pass to every kid in the house.
At the time, we were pretty new to the idea of Ladybug’s hereditary angioedema. Even though she wasn’t diagnosed until 2021, we were still dealing with Berinert infusions at the hospital and Xolair (omalizumab) shots to combat her allergies once a month. Because we weren’t confident in the symptoms, our lives became consumed with maintaining her health.
Cue the year of colds, rampant stomach viruses, and matching epilepsy diagnoses for the twins. The exclamation point came when all of the older twin’s random sore throats led to her necessary tonsillectomy. And neatly woven between these occurrences was Ladybug’s frustrating cycle of health challenges. That rare moment of respite that I thought I was getting had snowballed into a year of every kid’s medical everything!
I was unprepared for a simple fact: The other kids get sick, too.
My first instinct was to ignore common symptoms in our other children, not because I didn’t care, but because I couldn’t take another thing. But honestly, the idea of another doctor’s visit was so genuinely triggering that I attempted to do the best I could with the energy I had and hoped for the best.
However, I couldn’t ignore that one needed glasses, another needed crutches after a playground mishap, and another had environmental allergies that required more than a simple tissue box.
Sure, childhood illnesses are a regular part of parenting, but because we were already navigating Ladybug’s rare disease, that “one more thing” became the most inconvenient interruption, bringing about another layer of guilt.
I longed for the moment when one of my other three children could walk into my room and tell me about their ailment, and I could say, “Sweetheart, I don’t really have time for your toothache this week.”
And they would respond, “Makes total sense, Mom. Pencil me in for next week, and we can circle back.”
But that never happened. Instead, I was convinced that Ladybug’s three siblings had a knack for picking the worst possible times to get sick. Didn’t they understand that I didn’t have time to deal with their curable things?
Of course not. They shouldn’t have to.
Contrary to my belief, my children weren’t at school plotting to get sneezed on, purposely drinking from germ-laden fountains, or intentionally rolling their ankles at recess. Despite our best intentions to keep them healthy, our other kids get sick.
However, in all the shenanigans we’re met with every day, it doesn’t matter how brief the illness is; they all deserve the same careful attention, whether I’m looking for a vein or handing over a cough drop.
My kids may not require the same amount of time when they’re not feeling their best, but they deserve the same amount of love. That is something I absolutely have the capacity and energy to give.
Note: Angioedema News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angioedema News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to angioedema.