A (Pre)Cautionary Tale

In September 2009, our son Scott and his wife Sarah were visiting us, here on Hilton Head.  Both were supremely healthy.  So healthy that one afternoon, while we were out on our boat, Sarah, being a strong swimmer, dove in the water and rescued a couple whose ski-doo had flamed out.  That’s how strong she was. How supremely healthy.

Later that afternoon, they flew home.

In less than five days after their return to Ohio, Sarah was on full life support and had been air-lifted to the Michigan University Hospitals where, we were told, she had her best chance of survival.  And it wasn’t a very good chance at that. The good doctors in Dayton advised us in no uncertain terms that they could do nothing more for her.

The culprit:  H1N1.  Also known as Swine Flue. A virus few of us had even heard about.  And if we had, we certainly weren’t concerned about it.  It was a just a simple flu, a day or two in bed, a take-two-aspirin-and-call-me-in-the-morning kind of thing.  What me worry?

So, how could a little flu bug like that take down our strong, healthy daughter-in-law? And take her down so far and so fast? 

Here’s how that happened and here’s what worries me now about our children who are getting Covid.

Sarah’s exceedingly strong immune system rallied all her organs and waged war on H1N1.  Surely, they said to themselves, as a group we can beat this thing. But nasty little bug that it was, it fought back and all her systems failed.   Had she not been so healthy, she wouldn’t have gotten so sick.  How does something like that make sense?

It doesn’t. But it’s real.  It happens.  Not frequently but enough for each of us to do our best to make sure that our children and grandchildren are always with people who’ve been vaccinated. Children’s immune systems are strong.  Kids are typically healthy.  They fight off stuff we older people can’t.  That’s why this tale is important.  Too much of a good thing may sometimes be just that:  too much.

As to Sarah.  She’s fine.  She great, in fact.  She spent nearly three months in the SICU in Michigan, with the best doctors on this earth, caring for her, invested in and dedicated to her recovery. They became deeply attached to her family who moved to Michigan for that time. They ultimately unearthed a new drug which turned her disease around.  The time, effort and commitment on the part of all those doctors and nurses to save Sarah was extraordinary. Our hospitals don’t have that luxury these days.   They’re in crisis themselves.  This story would not have a happy ending today.  We can’t let that happen to our children.