As a special needs parent, I strive for normalcy—whatever ‘normal’ actually is—wherever and whenever I can.

Normal, run-of-the-mill, childhood illness is making me happy these days. 

Let me explain.

There was a time, not too long ago, when cold and flu season was synonymous with survival mode in our house. 

I kept an emergency hospital bag packed at all times and used it often. 

As any parent of a child who is medically fragile will tell you, a simple cold gives us nightmares, and just the mention of a particularly nasty virus makes our blood run cold.

A standard cold would have Mia needing more oxygen support than I felt comfortable, or capable of administering at home. 

So off we’d go to the hospital. 

They knew us by name at the Children’s Hospital emergency room, as if we were VIP guests in a four-star hotel. 

Due to the fragility of Mia’s lung condition, we would immediately be swept into an exam room leaving the chaos of the triage station in our midst.

About a year ago, all this changed. 

Mia’s condition stabilized. 

She still would get sick, but we were able to deal with the illnesses in the comfort of our home and with support of our local paediatrician.

Then the biggest shift came. 

She started getting normal childhood illnesses. 

The kind of illness where you don’t even need to go to the doctor for medications. 

And the best thing was, that Mia was able to fight these bugs off on her own, and we stayed far away from the hospital and the PICU. 

Last Christmas she came down with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. 

She had a mild case, no complications. 

Now, my husband and I also got sick and we weren’t too pretty, but Mia did it. 

She got sick with a real, normal childhood sickness, and rolled with it. 

We rejoiced!

Don’t get me wrong. 

We’re not totally in the clear, just yet. 

Mia still sleeps with oxygen support, but the amount necessary to support her, even during illness is significantly less in comparison with the first three years of her life. 

We are also aware that things can, and probably will change. 

For right now, we are enjoying this milestone.

This doesn’t mean that we have thrown all caution to the wind. 

We are still downright meticulous when it comes to hygiene. 

When I walk into a room the smell of hand sanitizer precedes me, as if it is my signature perfume. 

We avoid public transport during rush hour, often choosing to walk instead of standing in a crammed bus full of sick people. 

We steer clear of crowds, and we ask that visitors postpone if they feel that they are coming down with something. 

We eat healthy, vitamin rich food, get plenty of fresh air and wash our hands with the precision of a surgeon upon entering the house. 

We’re doing all the things that we did before, but now Mia’s immune system has started to work alongside these efforts.

So yes, I’m okay with childhood illness now. 

I’m thankful that we’ve come this far.

It really is the little things that can make my day, and today I’m thankful that Mia rolled through the latest virus-of-the-day, like a champ. 

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