As my daughter turns 4, I’m thankful for health care

Cross-posted on BlogHer. If you haven’t been to BlogHer in the last couple of days, I hope you’ll stop by and check out the new look. 🙂

In less than a week, my firstborn child, my baby girl Ava will turn 4. While this isn’t often considered a major milestone, it is still very dear to my heart, being her mother and all. It got me thinking about how good we have it here in North America. I feel fortunate to live in a country where we have access to things such as clean water, nutritious food and medical care. Elsewhere in the world, however, in places like Darfur, Nepal and Afghanistan, where those basic essentials are lacking, a child living to see his or her fourth birthday truly is a major milestone.

Even if our health care system in the United States is not ideal, at least we have access to medical assistance when we need it. When Ava was 13 months old she came down with a nasty case of croup. “Croup is a viral infection that affects mostly younger children (under 5-6). It causes swelling in the child’s vocal cords, which is what causes the barky cough. The vocal cords are already the narrowest part of the air passages, and any swelling from infection may narrow the airway enough to obstruct breathing.”

We kept a close eye/ear on her breathing and did the recommended trips to the steamy bathroom, then out into the night air to help open her airways, but her condition continued to get worse. By 2:30 a.m., as I lay with her on my chest on the couch in our living room her breathing became very labored. Her sternum started to cave in as she inhaled, and that combined with the stridor (whooping sound) were enough for me to tell my husband Jody that we needed to get her to the Emergency Room NOW.

072905-1-s.jpgI feel so fortunate that the nearest hospital is less than three minutes from our house because by the time we pulled into the ER parking lot, the skin around Ava’s little mouth was turning blue. Jody dropped me off at the door and, with my little girl in my arms, I ran in. A nurse immediately heard Ava’s labored breathing and we were seen right away.

Ava ended up needing to be admitted to the pediatric unit for two nights. By the time we went home, our little girl was doing much, much better.

Ava and daddy in the hospital 7/29/05It’s easy for me to take the medical care Ava received for granted. After all, I’ve never been in a situation where we’ve been without it. But if I stop to think about what would’ve happened if we hadn’t had access to a hospital right then when we needed it most, it’s enough to bring me to tears. It’s a very frightening thought to imagine living without access to medical care for my children and I’m thankful that it’s not something I’ll (hopefully) never have to worry about.

Candace of Mamanista! and Mama Saga has blogged in the past about her daughter Baby Diva who was born with tetralogy of fallot, a congenital heart defect.

Heart defects are among the most common birth defects–approximately 40,000 babies (1-2%) in the United States are born each year with a heart defect–and they are the leading cause of defect-related infant death. And yet, there is comparatively little funding going into researching the causes of these defects and treatment options.

Without surgery, depending on the exact pathology, tetralogy of fallot has a mortality of 30% of patients by age 2 years to 50% by age 6 years, 80% by age 10 years, and 95% by age 20…and those statistics are for the more straightforward cases.

However, just one surgery with a very high success rate (95% success in the absence of complicating factors) and Baby Diva now has a good chance to live a normal life.

My fellow BlogHers Act CE Her Bad Mother recently blogged about having to take her newborn baby back to the hospital for tests.

When they tell you that you need to bring your baby to the hospital for tests, that they need to check his spine, that he has some markers for spinal problems, for serious things but maybe nothing but still maybe serious, that it might not be anything but maybe it’s something so it must be checked, it must, your heart constricts and you hold your breath.

Jenny at Crash Test Mommy wrote about the time her daughter Emma was diagnosed with pneumonia and x-rays revealed that part of her right lung had collapsed.

WOW. The doctor and I agreed that it was amazing, seeing as how Emma wasn’t acting *that* sick and didn’t look *that* sick. And WOW. Just WOW.

So now, a week’s worth of Augmentin and back-pounding later, Emma’s doing well and still coughing up lungcrap.

Astacia AKA Mamikaze at Life on the Run writes about her 3 1/2 year old daughter “Bear” who has cerebral palsy.

Even when she’s sick, she is in a good mood. She knows what she wants out of life. I suspect she wants to rule the world. Go for it, I say. It may have taken her 3 years to learn how to walk, but she is no slouch.

A year ago, Anna of Hank & Willie reflected on the birth of her son Henry at 36 weeks and his battle with respiratory distress syndrome. She also has blogged about trying to raise money for the March of Dimes March for Babies.

We remain forever grateful for the excellent care, lifesaving procedures and sophisticated equipment that were available to Henry when he was born prematurely nearly two years ago.

I think it’s safe to say that like Anna, all of these mothers are thankful for the medical care their children have received and/or are continuing to receive. All of our children are alive and we are very fortunate.

At the time of this writing, the BlogHer Global Giving projects have received $6,140 in donations. In honor of Ava’s fourth birthday and in hopes of helping another child across the globe reach her fourth birthday, I am going to make a donation to one of the projects. It is my hope that other mothers will consider following suit on their children’s next birthday. We have a lot to be thankful for. Why not share the love and help out another mother and child?

11 thoughts on “As my daughter turns 4, I’m thankful for health care”

  1. When I read/hear stories like this I am sooooo thankful for my daughters health. I am so glad that she has never spent a night in the hospital, that the only times we have been to the ER (which is 10 min away) is because of a high fever. I am thankful for all of these things.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful and lovely post Amy. I think I actually remember when Ava was sick and hospitalized, maybe from summer04 AP moms? I remember thinking how scary, and how brave you were.

    Not knowing, of course, that we are all as brave as we need to be when the time comes.

  3. I remember when you posted about Ava’s croup, and that is very scary! I’m very glad the hospital was able to take care of her well and quickly.

    Call me cynical though, but I think you and your family are lucky. Jody happens to have good health insurance. And when you got to the emergency room, you didn’t have the average wait of 3 hours (often longer).

    I am grateful every day for Aidan’s robust health because I dread ever having to go to the hospital for anybody in our family, especially him!

  4. Amy, Thanks for a great post about the medical care in the US. I sometimes think that everyone gets so wrapped up in the “problems” of our system, that they forget how truly great and accessible it is. When I was working in the hospital in India, the family had to go across the street to the pharmacy to buy supplies before they would be treated in the ER. Talk about delay in care! Anyway, as a health care professional myself and as a mom who has her husband often taken away from our family at inopportune times to help other families at the hospital, it is nice to hear some praise rather than all criticism.

  5. What a beautiful post!

    Lilah (aka Baby Diva) is now nearing her 2nd birthday and while not a day goes by that I don’t think about her missing valve and hope and pray that there will be a non-invasive option available by the time she needs one…I am incredibly grateful for the care she received and for the fact that we are not deeply in debt as a result.

    Some people may not be aware of the work that doctors, including military doctors like Lilah’s previous cardiologist, do overseas to identify candidates for life-saving treatments and surgeries. And they work with organizations to bring these children and their parents to the states, where the children receive care and operations.

    What a beautiful and life affirming thing these hero doctors do!

  6. What a wonderful post.
    My daughter (who is now 2) had heart surgery when she was 4 months old.
    I am so thankful that we are here in this country with such wonderful health care and my husband and I are even more thankful that he is serving in the Navy and our insurance covered the ENTIRE surgery, hospital stay and even travel expenses (had to travel 6hrs from where we were stationed in WA to Portland, Oregon).
    Without the military insurance we never would have been able to afford the surgery for our little girl.

  7. Although we have wonderful health facilities in this country, so many, many people cannot afford them. What good are they if you don’t have any insurance? I have seen tooooo many people without insurance taking risks whenever they are sick or hurt because they cannot afford to go to the doctor (no insurance). If they go to a “sliding scale” facility, the wait can by up to 6 hours…a lot can happen during that time….and oftentimes has…

    Something needs to be done….

  8. Pingback: croup

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