What happens when you are a parent with myositis, and your child gets a cold or flu? You don’t stop being a parent. You don’t stop wanting to comfort and give love at 2am when they can’t sleep, just because you don’t feel well or just because you are immune compromised.
My husband and I share all of our parenting duties. However, this round of the “yucks” (sinus infection, horrible cough, congestion, etc.) hasn’t hit him yet, and he has to go to work. I don’t. We’d really like to keep him germ-free, if possible, so that means keeping him out of our daughter’s radius, because even at thirteen she doesn’t know how to cover her mouth in her sleep to cough.
Seriously, though, when does one learn that skill? Also, when do they learn to control their projectile vomiting? This seems like an important group of life skills, the ability to not share bodily fluids, violently, in their sleep…but I digress.
Since she needed to sleep in the recliner a few nights because of the cough and congestion, I volunteered to sleep on the couch with her. I had roughly two weeks of a sinus infection, and it seemed he had been spared. She picked it up about a week into my misery. Since I had trouble getting over it myself, even with antibiotics (see my recent entry, “Long, cold, myositis winter: The realities of living with myositis and germs”) it would have been great to get a whole night of sleep. Instead, I got up with her for two hours, the first couple of nights, to use the neti-pot, to take more antihistamines, and soothe her while she calmed down after having a horrible coughing fit. We also slept in most of those mornings. The worst of it lasted for four nights.
On the whole, parenting with myositis is no different than parenting without. We have all the same responsibilities, hopes, dreams and fears as we go through our lives as parents. We want our children to be happy and healthy, we want to love and comfort them. Parents don’t get timeouts, free passes, and easy ways out! Like any other chronic illness, parenting with myositis does have a few more obstacles; we don’t start from a healthy baseline when germs hit the kids. We have fatigue built-in as a consideration when we assess how to address the additional sleepless nights. Some of us worry everytime our child has an acute illness, is this the time the autoimmune process will show up in them? (While myositis has not been shown to be genetic, autoimmune disease is believed to be familial.
Our own health can be a consideration in how close we get to a snotty or vomiting child. Safety precautions may, at times, necessitate distance between us and our ailing child. Or sometimes, like mentioned above, we have no choice and we just have to act. We put our child’s needs above our own and decide to deal with the consequences on another day.
So for this week, I decided to be a mommy. I’ll deal with the fatigue and the question of if these are germs I gave her or if she picked them up somewhere else (and I can get reinfected), later. She is miserable and needs care, now. We are spending our days on the couch, the same place she and I slept. We are drinking lots of fluids, utilizing the air fryer to cook lots of veggies for some much-needed nutrition, eating some other comfort foods, and daddy has self-exiled himself from our presence. When he is home he’s working in his office downstairs, trying to stay away from us as much as possible.
It seems like we managed to keep him well, get her better, and I’m slowly coming out of it too! I’m grateful her immune system works faster than mine. We can’t wait to fully exile these germs from our bodies and get back to normal!