January 25, 2014

My PSA about RSV

Let me start off by clearly stating that I am in no way, shape or form a medical professional. I mean, I've learned a lot in the past week, but I don't think the doctors would be willing to let me make rounds with them or anything. But as a momma, I want WAY more people to understand the severity of RSV.

I went through Hayden's story that brought us here to the pediatric ICU in an earlier post, and as you can see from that--our symptoms started out very harmless. We went from a normal, runny nose/watery eyes situation to seeing our one-month old rushed around a hospital gasping for breaths in less than 48 hours. Not cool.

During our time here, we've talked a lot about the lack of education on RSV. As a mom, I've heard of it and knew the basics but never in a million years did I realize that a perfectly normal, otherwise healthy, full-term baby could end up this sick. And I don't think I'm alone because we've had more than one person come visit and immediately get choked up and say something along the lines of, "I had no idea he was this sick." I purposely haven't posted any pictures of Hayden anywhere because his current state just breaks my heart. I only want positive photos, so I might bombard all my social media outlets once he's a happy baby ready to go home! But like those visitors, I had no idea he could get this sick.

Even so, every single nurse, doctor, respiratory therapist, etc. has told us how common RSV is. And time and time again, we've heard how incredibly serious it is. They do not take this lightly, and we're immensely thankful to have LeBonheur and their amazing medical teams taking care of our sweet boy.

So back to RSV and it's royal suckiness...it's SCARY! And at this point, contrary to some rumors out there, there is no vaccine against it. We've asked during our time here and have learned that there are so many evil strains of this virus (some worse than others) that there's simply not one vaccine that could adequately protect babies. Apparently there are some vaccines that are administered for high-risk babies in hopes that it will lessen the chances of contracting RSV, but nothing for the general population of otherwise healthy babies on a regular schedule of vaccinations.

What can you do to protect your baby? To me (again--not a medical professional) this is kind of the scary part. You can certainly help keep your baby safe by washing hands, making sure people wash their hands before holding your baby, keeping them away from smokers and keeping them away from people with colds, BUT to the average older child or adult, RSV is just a common cold. A simple cold may seem totally harmless, but you could have RSV. In fact, I most likely have RSV right now. But I'm just coughing and sneezing, not laying in a precious tiny hospital bed with a ventilator supporting my every breath.

Also, you can be contagious with RSV for up to 48 hours without even showing the first symptom! Once we get home, Hayden will still be a little sick. RSV is often a two-month virus, so he'll basically be in a bubble until RSV season is over! Maybe until he's like 16, I'm not sure yet.

I wish that parents having baby during RSV season were given more information about the virus in the hospital after the baby's born. Like I've mentioned before, I've always been a hand washer, and our kids wash their hands, but I've never been overly worrisome about germs. Yeah, that's over. Now I'm officially a germaphobe!

Oh and also--just a little side note--the hand sanitizer you probably use regularly (like I do) only kills bacteria germs, not viral germs. So it's really doing nothing to protect against viruses like RSV. Only hand washing with soap and water or the super awesome hospital-grade sanitizer will kill both types of germs. I never knew that!

I don't know if this will be helpful or not, but I'm hoping it's good info for someone. One nurse told me that during RSV/flu season, about half of the babies in ICU are RSV cases, and she can only hope that each parent tells at least one person about how serious and common it is.

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