Welcome 2017! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season we sure did. Everyone was healthy and happy. Unfortunately, as I read other parent’s stories about their less than enjoyable holidays, I feel compelled to write about T1 being an autoimmune disorder- and what that means for so many of us.
Having an autoimmune disease means that any viral or bacterial infection going around will most likely infect our T1 kids and proceed to slam them. It means that we must be extra diligent about hand washing, avoiding high traffic areas such as indoor playgrounds, and yes even staying away from family and friends over the holiday season. It also means that family and friends must be sensitive to the difficulties of having an autoimmune disorder and realize that what may seem like "no big deal" to them, is in fact a huge deal to the T1 family. For example, there was one family that traveled 5 hours to visit their distant relatives only to discover that some of the children had the flu-a potentially deadly infection for a T1- and no one bothered to send a quick text message or make a simple phone call saying “Hey John-Doh threw up this morning or Jane Doh has a fever, just wanted to give you a heads up”. The family with the T1 child reached their destination turned right back around and headed home, to which I say “Bravo” for being so smart about it, and “BOO!!!” to the inconsiderate family members who didn’t let them know in advance. It is so unfair for families like ours to be ambushed in situations like these.
I am begging you to remember that the cold virus your child has may last two or three days, but if our T1’s catch it --which they most likely will, given their immune systems are practically worthless-- it inevitably means a hospital visit or worse. As for the flu-shot, GET IT! I understand the stigma around it, and the idea that if we treat everything with antibiotics or vaccinations the nasty viruses out there will become immune but that is utter foolishness…those viruses are constantly changing, despite vaccinations not because of them. Get that shot! If not for yourself, for your T1 child and if not for your child then your niece, nephew, grandson or daughter, or your friend’s child. If you have no T1 relatives or friends, keep your sick children home even if you are going stir crazy for the sake of someone else’s child.
I am grateful that most of our extended family and friends have finally started to understand this, but it took a long while and I am not going to lie there was a bit of a learning curve but; I think we are finally all on the same page. I understand how hard it is to be stuck at home, I really do…I have been desperately trying to keep my T1 entertained and it is exhausting. BUT, but, I would much rather be exhausted at home, than exhausted in a hospital room as he fights yet another infection that could have been avoided.