I have been following this virus since about the third week in January and it looks like it has taken until now for the US government to take it seriously. So…7 weeks. I have a lot of opinions and feeling about this, but I want to focus on what we can all do to help. Since I spent much of Little Miss Minion’s first year of life in a constant state of bleaching everything we owned, I have some relevant experience. RSV isolation and introversion have prepared me for just this situation 😉
As the parent of a former 28 weeker, I take cold and flu season extremely seriously, even though my kiddo has hopefully outgrown her preemie lungs and the problems that go with them, as well as developed a decent immune system. Last time she got sick, she had a runny nose for about 12 hours and then gave it to me, where it lasted six weeks and turned into a double ear infection, a sinus infection, bronchitis, and borderline pneumonia mixed with infection-induced asthma.
I’m sure everyone has heard the non-stop refrain of “wash your hands,” “it’s just the flu,” and “it’s only killing old people.” Here are my two cents, as a NICU mom, as a preemie mom, and as a (hopeful) future nurse:
- WASH YOUR HANDS. For real. Viruses need us to take them to the cells they can infect. Take the common cold, for example. You could dunk your hands in a bucket full of rhinovirus and not get sick…UNLESS you brought the virus to your nose or mouth. Scrub your hands, and the detergents in the soap will disrupt the virus capsule and kill it. Hand sanitizer does the same thing to this virus–although not all viruses are killed by it. Norovirus, for example, is not killed by most sanitizer gels.
- Take it seriously. While 80% of cases are apparently not a big deal, that means that 20% result in symptoms serious enough to warrant hospitalization. We don’t have the space in our hospitals for that kind of volume. We don’t have the staffing, or the supplies…which brings me to the next point.
- Do your part to flatten the curve. The curve is basically the number of people who need medical attention at a given time. The lower that number is, the better shape we will all be in. Slow the spread of illness so that the numbers of severe cases don’t surge. 100 people knocking on your door over the course of a year is far better than all of those people showing up in one day.
- Don’t be a carrier. Limit your visiting with more vulnerable people (looking at you, nursing homes, retirement homes, people fighting chronic illness, people with newborns). You could be sick with this virus (or any other virus) and not know it, bringing it in and infecting others who may not be able to fight it off. I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell, explain, and argue with people about why it was so vital that Little Miss Minion not get sick that first year she was home with us. What you think are “allergies” on Monday, so you go visit an older relative, could turn into “just a runny nose” on Tuesday and a full blown cold on Wednesday–and could prove to be pneumonia or worse for your unsuspecting relative.
- Don’t let the anxiety rule you. Check in on the news once or twice a day and get on with your day…albeit with a little more soap and a little less face-touching than usual.
Wishing everyone health and lots of toilet paper…
It’s October, and you know what that means! Cooler temps, pumpkin spice everything, and the onset of cold/flu/RSV season! If you haven’t scheduled your yearly flu shot, you really should, especially if you have contact with young children or the elderly. Herd immunity is so important to protect our most vulnerable populations. As you should know if you are a reader of this blog, preemies in particular are incredibly susceptible to illness, but especially RSV. Most babies get RSV by the time they are two years old and it manifests as a bad cold. Not so for preemies. RSV can cause pneumonia, bronchiolitis, even death.
This year will be Little Miss Minion’s second Cold/flu/RSV season, and her first without the monthly Synagis shots. In case you’ve forgotten, Synagis is a shot of antibodies given to the most vulnerable preemies to try and boost their immune systems to fight off RSV. LMM doesn’t qualify for the shots anymore, so she will be facing this season on her own. That means that the Minion household will be extra vigilant about germs–not that we aren’t already.
This concludes my annual plea to get yourself and your family a flu shot this year. Help protect babies like Little Miss Minion, who can get severely ill from something as simple as the flu. Stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough. Keep your germs to yourself!
It’s hard to believe that Little Miss Minion is already 11 months old. In the past couple of weeks, she’s said her first word (Mama), pulled herself up from sitting, started to crawl, and has tried lots of new foods. Current weight is 15 pounds, 8.6 ounces. She’s outgrowing most of her 3 month clothes and starting to fill in her 6 month outfits. In one month, we can start taking her places in public. We will still need to carefully monitor the germ situation, since her lungs are still catching up, but her immune system should be significantly stronger, although since she’s still just a baby, it still won’t be as strong as yours or mine. And it still won’t be caught up with her chronological age, but it will be strong enough that we can expose her, with extreme caution. Lots of Lysol and hand sanitizer, but she will be out in the world!
It was like 50 degrees here this afternoon so Mr Minion and I took LMM for a walk around our neighborhood. We dressed her in her coat, which is pink and furry and makes her look like a pink baby Ewok from Star Wars. I hooked her into my baby carrier and off we went. As soon as we went out the door, she knew something was going on. The only time she ever goes outside is in her car seat for doctor appointments. She was looking around everywhere, smiling at Mr Minion and I and taking it all in. As we walked, I noticed that she kept looking up and just staring. It was the trees. She was just amazed by the trees.
So excited for spring and nicer temperatures so that we can do this more often! How many parents get to watch their kids cognitively experience things like trees and birds for the first time? I guess this is the silver lining of RSV isolation.
Mr Minion and I went out last night for the first time since Little Miss Minion’s arrival 6 1/2 months ago. It was nerve-wracking, but I’m very glad we went. It was the wedding reception of one of his cousins, at a very cool venue with TONS of people. We got dressed up, I wore heels (first time wearing “real” shoes outside of doctor’s appointments in like 5 months), and talked to people who weren’t pediatricians, or nurses, or neurosurgeons, or pediatric neurologists, or physical therapists, or doctors.
The prep work for this was normal routine for us, with the added catch that we haven’t seen many people since she was born, and even less people since cold/flu/RSV lockdown began. We each had a little bottle of hand sanitizer that we used after touching things like the pen for the guest book or the handrail of the shuttle bus. No hugs, no handshakes allowed. There were elevator and door attendants, so no need to worry about touching the buttons or the handles. We stopped at home before going to pick up LMM from my mom’s house so we could properly scrub up and change clothes. As we were walking toward the front doors, and as our anxiety and germophobia built up, we could hear music being piped from the lobby of the venue. It was “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.
Backstory: We drove to see LMM in the NICU for every single one of her 84 days there. And every single night when we drove home after leaving her behind, we would hear “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey on the radio. I think there were about 5 times we DIDN’T hear that song, and we heard a Frankie Valli song instead, which is extra weird because nobody plays him anymore and that is all I ever listened to in my car on the drive to work every day while I was pregnant. So its kind of “our song” between the three of us.
We took it as a sign that going out was a good idea.