Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with my side of the family. Several traveled about five hours so that we could be together. We had a wonderful time but it almost didn’t happen.
Earlier in the month, I posted a blog about how difficult it was to choose between caring for Lynn and helping out my daughter who was sick and whose baby was very sick. After reading that post, my loving, self-sacrificing, 80-year-old parents jumped in their car and drove five hours to come to help her out so I would stop worrying about her. (See where I get my caregiving tendencies?) It was such a relief to have them here so I knew Sarah could get some much-needed rest. They kept the baby at my house, and I could help from across the room or up close if I was careful to stay away from his little contagious face.
My parents needed to get home for some things previously planned so they left early Friday morning of that week (two Fridays ago). A few hours after they left, my daughter sent me a text, “do you have a spare stethoscope? I think Eli is wheezing.” Though I didn’t have a spare, I immediately took what I had and went over to check his breathing. In doing so, I walked into virus city but I took the risk because I was worried about the baby. I’m glad I did because he was certainly wheezing and, in fact, ended up in the emergency department a few hours later to get breathing treatments. I stayed away from them after that but it was too, late–the alien invader cold virus breached my armor and attacked. I now have a horrible cold and I’m miserable…and feeling guilty and worried.
Several other members of my family had also been sick last week with colds and one developed an intestinal illness which was a totally new bug to throw into the mix. We almost postponed the family get-together; but by yesterday morning, most were feeling better so we decided to have a “no-touch” celebration. Honestly, I think I was the sickest one there so I hope no one gets sick from me! We occasionally forgot and gave a hug but for the most part, we did not touch. Since the baby had finally gotten better, the only ones who could touch him were his parents and me (other than my parents who had no symptoms of illness and had already been exposed to him) which was disappointing for the others. I was ill but from the baby sharing his germs so he could not be re-infected from me.
As I sit here, now, sneezing almost continuously, my biggest fear, of course, is Lynn. I can’t help but share these germs with him. I’ve washed my hands till they are cracked from dryness. I put a towel over my shoulder when I have to move him to keep his face away from my clothes. I turn away when I cough and sneeze but he’s living in my germs. I give him Zicam around the clock. However, I fear it’s just a matter of time before he is sick, too. In fact, he said his throat was a little sore this morning and his use of nose spray has started to increase.
Everyone hates to get a cold and hates the miserable symptoms that cause sore noses, difficulty sleeping, and other unattractive and inconvenient maladies. However, for a person with MS, it carries even greater concerns. MS is considered to be an autoimmune disease because the immune system in an MS patient is “confused.” While in the lives of a person who does not have an autoimmune condition, T-cells and other infection-fighting agents are good guys, in a person with MS, they are traitors. Instead of helping the body, they attack it. Think of it this way…
Two little countries are located side by side and they hate each other with a passion. Both countries train their soldiers to attack and destroy any soldier from the opposing country on sight. The two country’s inhabitants have unique skin colors. Country-A inhabitants have yellow skin and Country-B have green. Finances are an issue for one year and Country-B is low on resources. They came up with the strategy to put a blueing ingredient in the water of Country-A. The next morning when Country-A wakes up, everyone who has had water to drink during the night has turned green. The rest of the “yellow” inhabitants think they have been invaded and began to attack and kill the “green” invaders. Thus they destroy themselves and Country-B gains control.
Something similar happens in MS. The person’s immune system senses danger and attacks itself so when a new infection is introduced, more “defenders” are produced by the body, and these new defenders not only attack the invaders but also the person’s own body. That makes the individual susceptible to having an exacerbation and developing new MS problems.
That happened to Lynn two years ago. He got a bladder infection that was not treated correctly. He lost his desire to eat and his body’s inefficiency to fight the infection led to him being hospitalized. Once he was hospitalized, he developed pneumonia due to an accidental aspiration from the feeding tube he had, and between the two infections (respiratory and urinary), his body engaged in WWIII tactics which nearly cost him his life. He has just now gotten back almost to his pre-hospitalization level but still has a way to go even now. Before a hospitalization, he had better balance, could use both hands, and had voluntary control of urination. Now he has no or limited ability in these areas.
So, it is with great concern I wait to see if my cold leads to an illness in his body. I’m also concerned because he currently has a stage III skin breakdown on his right buttock. Therefore, his body is already under attack trying to repair the skin damage. I fear that adding in the defense of a cold will be overwhelming.
I’ll just have to wait and see and ask for prayers of defense. I know if he gets sick not only will he need prayer support but so will I. (He becomes even needier when he doesn’t feel well and I’m already on overload from that front as it is!)
On a more pleasant note, I look forward to two more family events this coming week and one next week for New Year’s Eve if he isn’t sick.
In closing, I wish you and your family a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and God’s blessings on your new year!