I debated sharing this picture because it brings back memories I would like to forget. Before this photo, I had no experience with a child in and out of the hospital.
It was terrifying, sleepless, filled with worry, and simply put, awful. My heart goes out to parents that live this daily.
RSV caused this photo. RSV is short for Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
You may think RSV is harmless, but RSV can and does kill children every year. With cold and flu season here, I felt it was important to share our experience with RSV.
Some may say RSV is “Just the common cold! It’ll pass!” I am here to tell you that in children under two years old, it can lead to respiratory distress, bronchitis, lung infections, and pneumonia. It has killed upwards of 150,000 children every year.
Most children will catch RSV by the time they are two years old. For my child, it happened at 14 months.
It came on suddenly and unexpectedly.
It was January 2018, and my baby girl had a runny nose. That was it. She was not coughing, and she had no fever. She was playing and eating like normal. The only change was that she was more tired than usual and went to bed early.
Later that night, it went from a runny nose to trouble breathing. Fast.
We rushed her to the ER at the local children’s hospital at about 3 am. The ride was only about 10 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime.
By this point, she was wheezing and coughing as she tried to catch her breath.
When we arrived at the ER, I told the nurse I thought she was having trouble breathing. The nurse immediately came over. She heard her breathing and said, “That’s not normal.” She whisked her away, and that is when the nightmare started.
They gave her breathing treatments and an IV. They also drained her nose with the “snake.” If you do not know what that is, be grateful. I cried as I heard my baby yell when they cleared her mucus.
They explained that she needed to stay overnight. She did not improve the next day, and she was there for three days. She was released on the 4th day. I did what any mother would do in those days. I did not eat or sleep.
I lived by prayer and Google as I attempted to learn what RSV was and how I can avoid this happening again.
They released her after three days, and I was overjoyed. That joy would not last. She was in and out of the hospital for about a month after this episode. The RSV came back, and she had complications from the antibiotics.
What have I learned about RSV since then?
There is no vaccine.
Your child is bound to get it.
Wash your hands properly.
Have your children wash their hands properly.
Do not kiss babies.
Do not go near babies if you are sick.
When a mother tells you, “Don’t kiss my baby,” please respect her decision.
I realize you may think you are a doctor and say, “Well, your baby needs to build up their immune system!”
No, ma’am. What the baby needs is for you to stay away if the mother requested you to do so.
After my baby girl went through this, you can bet I was in the “Don’t touch my kid” camp.
Let me repeat what that month was like for our family:
It was terrifying, sleepless, filled with worry, and simply put, awful.
Please learn about RSV, respect when a mother asks you not to touch her baby and WASH YOUR HANDS.
Stay healthy, friends!
This post originally appeared on Today.com