Jane Holmes: Mild bugs can be life threatening for someBy Hugh Fort
October 17, 2012
Jane Holmes is chief executive of Wokingham-based charity Building for the Future which provides support and activities for disabled children. She set up the charity after her daughter Kitty was born with severe cerebral palsy.
This is the time of year when the bugs really start doing the rounds. The kids went back to school in September and, within a couple of weeks, the coughs, colds and vomiting had begun.
It's a bit of a pain for most people, not very nice seeing your child unwell and often parents have to take time off work to keep an eye on them at home until they're well enough to return to school.
But these irritating illnesses take on a whole new meaning for some children.
People often think of disabled children as being in a wheelchair or maybe having challenging behaviour, but their physical vulnerability extends far beyond needing to be pushed around or hurting themselves.
What do you do, for example, when your child is so sick that they can't even keep their epilepsy medication down?
Or their swallow is so weak and uncoordinated that anything they manage to cough up gets aspirated straight back into their lungs.
Or a child is unable to move about on their own and so infections sit and fester for so much longer.
There are a lot of children who are in and out of hospital for most of the winter.
Chest infections that just won't shift, meaning oxygen is needed as well as regular physiotherapy so that the child has a chance of breathing properly.
Often immune systems are compromised, either by medication or the underlying condition.
We have been lucky really. My daughter has had her fair share of time in hospital, but mostly enjoys good health.
There was the time when a nasty cold went to her chest and became so bad that her oxygen levels, overnight, dropped to about 65%.
A course of intravenous medication later and we were discharged with a bottle of antibiotics, but sadly a nasty gastric bug too.
So the whole thing flared up again and we ended up back at the Royal Berks though this time into the high dependency unit.
All turned out well for us in the end, but let's spare a thought for those families for whom a mild bug is really life-threatening and support them if we can.