Up until this year, my guess is most people had never heard of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). It's not that RSV is new, it's just that unless you were the parent of a medically fragile child, RSV was just a bad cold.
When Sam was finally sent home from the NICU it was during the height of flu and RSV season. We qualified for Synagis injections due to Sam's birth age and weight. That meant a $1500 shot once a month from November-May. Synagis is not a vaccine, it just helps protect a you with virus-fighting antibodies. In addition to the Synagis, we were told not to take Sam out into any indoor spaces or outdoor crowds until the end of the season. That meant from the day we came home from the NICU on December 20 we were pretty much house bound until May 1. (Yes - that time was great preparation for COVID).
Of course, after a year, we let our guard down. Sam was no longer a fragile preemie, but a strong healthy baby. When the next flu/RSV season rolled around, we got all got our flu shots, but we did not isolate. It didn't take long for Irene to bring a cold home from her 1st grade classroom. Less that a two days after Irene came home sick, Sam got sick. Then he got sicker. Then he got even sicker. At the end of a week of watching Sam vomit, his fever spike and breathing become labored, we found ourselves in the ER.
It look less than an hour for the diagnosis to come back, Sam had RSV (plus pneumonia, dehydration and an ear infection) and needed oxygen support. You have not lived until you have seen your infants car seat strapped to an ambulance gurney so your baby can be transported from the ER to the hospital bed down the street for his oxygen support.
We spent 5 days in the hospital, back on monitors and oxygen. It was awful.
So, now the RSV is top of mind for everyone, there are some things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community:
- Stay home if you are sick
- Wash your hands... often
- Wear a mask when in an indoor setting
None of the suggestions above are new or ground breaking. But if we have learned anything from COVID is that these three simple things help. How do we know? Well, for the past two years, the numbers of Flu and RSV cases was at an all time low.
Trust me - it is much easier to wear a mask than it is to see your baby strapped to an ambulance gurney.