I had prepared myself for a never ending onslaught of snotty noses and sore throats as Addison embarked on her first year in school, but I didn’t really think my germ radar (and nerves) would get tested quite so soon. Well, this morning the school called to say a student had been diagnosed with chicken pox. Ahhhhhhhh!!
As a transplant recipient on a twice daily regime of immune suppression drugs, Addison is not able to get live vaccines. This includes chicken pox, or varicella. And mumps. And measles. And rubella. And rotavirus. She has absolutely no protection against any of these illnesses, plus her immune system is lowered all the time so even fighting off the common cold can be uncommonly long and arduous.
Now here’s what a run in with the chicken pox would mean: 7-10 days of intravenous anti-virals. In the hospital. Doesn’t that sound like fun? According to our transplant nurse, other heart transplant kids have been treated safely. But the unsaid part is what freaks me out. This means there are heart transplant kids who haven’t been treated safely, or successfully???!!
So now we wait. The good thing is “patient zero” is not in Addison’s class, and their classroom is on the opposite end of the school. The other student has also been at home for a week before the official chicken pox diagnosis. But I know this won’t be the last. Unfortunately the latest stats show the vaccination rate at Addison’s school is below 80%. That isn’t enough for herd immunity to protect kids like Addison.
On the positive side, we have a kindergarten teacher who firmly believes in hand washing, at least four times a day. We have a school that is being supportive and proactive, notifying us as soon as they heard about the infection. And we know we can’t keep our little girl in a bubble.
Addison is way too busy making new friends, learning the different parts of her brain, practising daily tai chi (and some yoga), and working on the math tubs. It will be really sad if/when we have to keep her at home because someone else chose not to vaccinate their child.
Elaine, Aaron, Addison and Charlie