Love and Praise for Parents of Medically Fragile Children

This is the message I found on my answering machine Monday morning.

“Hi mom, it’s Andy. Just wanted you to know I have the swine flu, but don’t worry.”

This was the same day that I learned that a student at Cornell had died from the H1N1 virus.

I called Andy, who is a senior at a college in Connecticut, 3000 miles away from my home in Northern California, to get more details. He’d been sick since Friday. He had a high fever and was quarantined in his room. The doctor said he should start feeling better soon, and “please don’t fly back to see me.”

ANDY, left with MATTHEW

ANDY, left with MATTHEW

I got as much information as I could about the H1N1 virus and learned that most of the cases were milder than the seasonal flu, but that the virus was extremely contagious.

But it was clear after a few days of phone calls that Andy’s case was for severe than most.

Today, another call.

“Hi Mom. I’m at the health center. They are going to admit me because I have pneumonia. They’re giving me IV antibiotics and fluids.”

This flurry of phone calls and nail biting made me think about the gut wrenching realities of parents of medically fragile children (which includes just about every writer on the 5mfsn team.)

As the mother of a child with autism, I’ve had my share or worries, stress and heartache, but when I put my head on my pillow each night, I don’t have to worry that my child can breath or fight off infection, and I don’t have to wonder what the outcome of the next surgery will be. I don’t have to see my child in pain, and  I don’t have to answer insensitive questions about prognosis and lifespan.


Andy just phoned from the health center where he’ll be spending the night. He has only been there for 5 hours and already he feels so much better.

“This is my first time in the hospital,” he said , and I realize how incredibly lucky he is-how lucky I am.

And I’m thinking about you-the parents of medically challenged children. God love and bless you.



Laura Shumaker is the author of A REGULAR GUY: GROWING UP WITH AUTISM


She writes each Friday for 5 MINUTES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS.

7 Responses to Love and Praise for Parents of Medically Fragile Children