Sorry for the small size, but it's the best illustration I could find. The top picture shows a rendition of the difference between preemie lungs and full term developed lungs. The second picture shows just how tiny preemie airways are. This is why I'm thankful when friends cancel. The difference between a preemie getting a cold and a typically developing child is obviously very different.
RSV is a scary word in preemieland. For a typically developing child, contracting RSV may result in a minor cold, although many end up needing medical help. For a preemie, things can get much, much worse, including possible death. That is why many preemies get the outrageously expensive monthly Synagis shot. This is Jack's first RSV season without it. He got Synagis the first two seasons while he was in RSV Isolation. Despite the nerves from not having that extra barrier of protection, we feel much more confident in his lung development now that he is almost 3 years old. Still, we try not to knowingly go into situations where colds are present.
Some other factors to consider in lung development: I was not able to receive steroids to boost Jack's lung development prior to his birth. Many are able to hold off delivery in order to get these life-saving steroids. If you were able to receive steroids, that is so, so good! That, added to Jack's birth at 23 weeks, his dependency on the ventilator for so long, and his O2 dependency until 10 months of age, gives Jack his Chronic Lung Disease diagnosis. Jack has a Flovent inhaler (same drug as many with asthma take) and a standing nebulizer prescription that we've (thankfully) never had to use.
All this to say, I am thankful when friends cancel. It shows they care about Jack's health and are thinking of what's best. I once arrived to a dinner party where the host knew I would have Jack with me. This was during summer when we weren't in isolation. I walked in the door, sat Jack down, and after a few minutes was told that the host's child, another kid in the room, had "a really, really bad summer cold". Yes, RSV is present during summer and I immediately heard him hacking away. Needless to say, I booked it out of there ASAP and was really mad. The good news is that this was the only instance where I've had to leave something because someone was sick. Normally, people alert me ahead of time. It's best to be prepared in all situations though and the main word that comes to mind is flexible - you just have to be flexible. Yes, I had a slight pity party after that one instance, but it was for the best. You have to do what it takes to keep your kid healthy, right?
Many of you are in RSV isolation now and I think of you often. I just want you to know that there is an end in sight. Really, there is. If you didn't get the chance, make sure to read my 10 Ways to Make it through RSV Season. I hope that it's helpful in some small way. January, February, and March can be very rough months, so I definitely feel for you all. I've been there, and now can see if from the other side.
One day, you will, too.