Keeping Preemies and Medically Fragile Kids Safe This Cold and Flu season
I’ve recently been reflecting on our first winter home with Cruz and how it was a scary time for multiple reasons. One of those being how terrified I was that he would get sick and we would end up back in the hospital. This is a very real and all too common problem for micro-preemies. I needed to express to those close to us not only how serious it was but what actions were required to keep him safe. My husband and I decided the clearest and most effective way to tell our loved ones was to send out a mass email. With the suggestions from other parents that had done the same thing I crafted an letter.
We are now firmly planted in cold and flu season and I wanted to share the letter I sent in case there are other parents of preemies or medically fragile kids looking for the right words to express their thoughts around this topic. Here’s to keeping our little ones healthy this winter!
Dear Family:We decided to write this letter to address some of the most important people in our lives on behalf of Cruz. When Cruz was first born, we were very careful about not exposing him to germs, runny noses etc... Over the summer it may have seemed we let our guard down a little. But now that cold and flu season is upon us again we have decided to write this as our medical team has advised us to be very careful in the months ahead, since we want to protect Cruz's health and development. Illnesses that can be minor irritants for term children, like RSV, can send preemies back to the hospital, which we all want to avoid. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common, easily spread virus that almost all children catch at least once by the time they turn 2. It usually causes mild to moderate cold symptoms. But for premature babies born before 36 weeks, babies who were intubated, or those who have other health issues, RSV can lead to serious health complications. These risks include pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and other sometimes-fatal complications. Since Cruz was born over 12 weeks premature, had a low birth weight (which medically is consider under 2500g, Cruz was 1310g), was intubated, and has chronic lung disease; he is at risk for contracting RSV and developing serious complications. Despite Cruz's fantastic progress, his lungs remain vulnerable for the first two years and his immune system needs time to mature and catch up to his peers. Preventing the spread of RSV is very difficult. Thus, we must be diligent about keeping Cruz safe during RSV season (October through April). The virus is spread through physical contact, in the air via a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected object. The virus can live as long as six hours on hands and up to twelve hours on objects. In normal healthy adults and children, RSV has the exact same symptoms as a cold. On the advice of Cruz's health team we have/are taking extra precautions to keep Cruz healthy. Unfortunately we will not be attending many events during RSV season. Our goal is to make it through this cold & flu season without Cruz contracting RSV or any other serious illness. We ask the following of all guests to our home: 1. When you arrive, please wash your hands and please be thoughtful about hand hygiene during your visit.
2. To avoid the spread of germs, do not kiss Cruz on the mouth or surrounding area. Some alternative places to kiss our adorable little monkey are on his head or forehead. 3. Please postpone your visit if you are currently sick (even a minor cold) and have not been symptom-free for at least 3 days, if you live with someone who is sick, or have been in close contact with someone who is sick. If you think you might be getting ill, please postpone the visit to a later date. If you are not sure, please ask us, and please don't be offended if we suggest postponement. Also, please let us know if we are attending any family events and the above is true so alternate arrangements can be made. 4. We are following our doctor's recommendations regarding vaccinating and medicating Cruz and our family, and ask that you do the same. Please make sure your immunizations (including the flu shot [this is important because even if you don't show flu like symptoms, you can still be carrying the virus] and pertussis - whooping cough) are up-to-date. We need to build a circle of immunity around our family. (I know some of you have already done this, THANK YOU!) The way we care for Cruz may seem different than what you are used to or what you would expect, but our actions are based on medical advice that is specific to Cruz. Please understand that this letter is not meant to offend or alienate anyone, just simply to provide an explanation. We hope you understand, and we appreciate your support, acceptance and help in keeping Cruz healthy.
If you have any questions or concerns about the above, please let us know.
Kaylen, Ryan and Cruz