What A Small Cold Can Do

In October, my mom caught a little cold during a trip to her doctor's office. She suffered a sore throat, cough, runny nose, and a mild migraine for about four or five days for her.

A family member passes along a cold

Unfortunately, by day three, I got hit with the same bug. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

The cold lingered around for a solid three challenging weeks. Dealing with illnesses like this is just part of what folks with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) have to endure during cold and flu season.

Recovery a challenging game

It's not just a speed bump; it's a full-blown obstacle course, and the road to recovery feels like an epic saga. Being sick isn't just about physical symptoms; it's a mental game too.

This particular cold decided to pay me a visit when I was already not feeling my best. I was already grappling with a lack of sleep and discomfort at night. On top of that, there was the fatigue from an ongoing wrestling match with depression. The sore throat didn't just fade away after a week; it stuck around, making swallowing an Olympic-level challenge.

Setting off a chain reaction

For someone with SMA, a tiny hiccup can set off a chain reaction, demanding everything in my arsenal to keep the body shipshape. When things go sideways, it's an all-out war lasting the entire stretch of the illness. During those three weeks, I became a puppet to my body's commands. I spent my days in my wheelchair reclined, taking naps. Nights were like a bad playlist, featuring constant coughing fits that kept me wide awake. Once I started coughing i couldn’t stop.

Regaining strength takes weeks or months

The three-week ordeal might seem like an eternity, but for a person with SMA, it's just par for the course. Recovery is a turtle race. Especially when it comes to regaining strength, particularly in my arms, which can take weeks or even months.

Despite the hurdles, I stick to the tried-and-true strategies familiar to many SMA folks for managing colds and flu. My trusty nebulizer with albuterol and a mask becomes my superhero, swooping in to open up my airways, while a handheld inhaler tags along for the ride. And yes, I begrudgingly bring out the cough assist machine when needed—a contraption that's basically a coughing drill sergeant, vital for dealing with stubborn phlegm, something many of us with SMA struggle with.

Even on my so-called "good days," they're not always sunshine and rainbows. When illness decides to crash the party, it slaps an extra layer of stress on a body already juggling basic needs. All I can do is ride the wave until I'm back to my usual self, and let me tell you, the gratitude for feeling well again is off the charts.

Keeping me out of the hospital

Getting sick is a full-blown thriller for me. I know the stakes unfortunately. Something as seemingly harmless as a cold can morph into pneumonia if not dealt with promptly and efficiently. My number one mission as soon as I feel a bit under the weather is to minimize any chance of winding up in the hospital.

Grateful for my supportive caregiver

And speaking of missions, the home support crew plays a hero's role in my sickness saga. My amazing mom, a mix of a guardian angel and a superhero, not only tends to my health but does so with unmatched dedication. Even when she's under the weather, her care game stays strong. It's not just about the physical aspects; she throws in emotional support that's pure gold during the rough patches of illness.

In vulnerable moments, her comforting presence and soothing words alleviate the mental strain accompanying physical discomfort. Shared laughs amid snotty tissues and mutual strength during tough times forge a resilient bond in the face of SMA challenges.

Having a supportive and understanding caregiver is like having a secret weapon when illness strikes. The harmony at home, crafted by my mom's love and commitment, has undoubtedly played a role in keeping my health ship steady. It's not just a testament to her character; it's a reminder of the profound impact a nurturing environment can have on well-being. I'm beyond thankful for her presence and the role she plays in shaping the story of my health journey.

Doing everything I can to avoid illness

With winter knocking at the door, my main goal is to armor up against illness. I stay on top of my game with flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, creating a fortress against potential infections. Around the holidays, I meticulously check that the folks I plan to meet are in good health. This  minimizes the risk of catching anything contagious. If the weather turns nasty, my fortress is home, unless there's a dire need to venture out. And when I do step out, you bet I'm masked up with a properly fitted KN95 mask, maximizing protection against airborne threats. Hand sanitizer? Always within arm's reach, my sidekick in the ongoing health battle.

This little dive into the world of being sick with SMA barely scratches the surface of the intricate challenges faced. My genuine wish is for everyone to brave this flu season with resilience and good health. I'm eager to hear about your strategies for staying healthy in the winter and how you tackle the complexities of illness!

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