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by Alicia J.

When the pandemic started, I was pregnant with my first child. We would spend the next two years trying to protect him, which meant he basically spent all of his first two years of life at home. Eventually, we decided he needed to get out and meet some more kids.

We knew that he would probably get sick attending nursery school. But what we did not expect was for him to be sick from then until the end of the year. We also didn’t expect RSV.

Not Just a Cold

At first, he came down with what seemed to be just another cold–a cough and a runny nose, which started getting better. But over the next few days, he got really worse. I noticed one night when I was trying to give him some medicine for a fever, that he was breathing really fast despite the fact that he was just sitting in place. 

Soon he began to cough constantly. It wasn’t like he’d have a coughing fit and then get a break. It was constant to the point where he couldn’t say anything or even catch his breath. He also wouldn’t eat or drink anything. We had to force him to eat ice cream, which normally he loves.

We took him to the doctor, who prescribed a steroid. When that didn’t help, we took him to the ER, which was packed wall-to-wall with more coughing kids. They sent us home with a nebulizer and more steroids (which didn’t do much).

Finally, we took our son to see his pediatrician. She took one look at him, checked his blood oxygen, and said: “He needs to be in the hospital right now.”

Another Crowded Hospital

An ambulance came to take him to the local Children’s Hospital. Though he skipped the ER, theirs was also overrun with coughing children. 

At that point our son was so dehydrated that his crying produced no tears. They had trouble finding a vein to place his IV. The coughing was explained by RSV-induced bronchiolitis–the smaller airways in your lungs swelling. The next two days were spent getting his breathing back under control.

It was harrowing because I knew that a small number of kids were dying from this same disease. And at the same time I got sick with what I assume was RSV, since it was the worst cold of my life. Dealing with that while 7-months pregnant and splitting hospital shifts with my husband wrecked our little family. But once the doctors saw our son’s blood oxygen reach the high nineties consistently, he was finally released.

RSV May Cause Athma

They gave us an inhaler in case he had trouble breathing again. He did have a cough that lingered for three weeks, and the doctors told us it’s more likely he will develop asthma over the next couple of years because of this. It’s not a guarantee but we’re keeping an eye on it. That’s something he would have to deal with throughout his childhood if not his whole life.

Having been through this, I am fully supportive of RSV being prevented with a vaccine.  People take for granted the diseases they don’t have to confront. But with all we’ve been through over the past few years, there’s no reason not to give yourself the peace of mind of going out into the world a little more protected. 

Alicia J. is mom of two young boys and a marketer for a consumer packaged goods company. Her story, like all others on this blog, was a voluntary submission. If you want to help make a difference, submit your own post by emailing Noah at [email protected]. We depend on real people like you sharing experience to protect others from misinformation.

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