Children with Down syndrome have many similarities to children without Down syndrome. But as we all know, there are many differences. A lot of the differences are not critical and do not pose a problem, while there are some differences that become very problematic for our kids trying to fight off illnesses.
Earlier this week, we were reminded of the differences that work against fighting sicknesses when it was found that John had developed pneumonia. The differences that I am referring to are 1) low tone, 2) shallow breathing and 3) weak cough. These three worked against John this week as he was getting sick. He began with just a temperature but no real congested cough or snotty nose so we weren't they alarmed since we routinely give him breathing treatments anyway as a preventative. But with an elevated temperature, he wasn't drinking enough liquids and became a little dehydrated. The shallow breathing and decreased activity from being sick doesn't keep the lungs expanded as well as usual. The dehydration pushed him to where the mucus in his throat and lungs that usually get coughed up by you and I just settled in the lungs of a sick little boy with a weak cough. As a result, John was becoming infected by the secretions that he could not expel out of his lungs. By the time, we got him to the Dr's office, he was infected and has spread to his bloodstream.
John is now on the road to recovery without having to spend any time in the hospital but we are going to the ER everyday for a shot of antibiotic in addition to the antibiotic given orally here at home. The reason for both antibiotics is in part because of John's immune system is too weak to fight the strength of the infection and that the infection was in his bloodstream.
We have been reminded again this week of how quickly kids with Down syndrome can get really sick. Although, John is recovering now and has been eating and drinking well today, we are still keeping a close eye on him as well as giving him regular breathing treatments. This leads me to another thought - we are giving him breathing treatments because as we rehydrate him, the mucus in him lungs become loosened and need to be expelled. Since John has a weak cough, the breathing treatments help him to cough and bring up the mucus.
But most of all, we are thankful to the Lord for giving discernment in knowing when to take him to the clinic and to the Drs and nurses at Mercy Pediatric Clinic for giving him the care and attention needed. It really helps having a Physician that knows your child and is familiar with Down syndrome.