Something was wrong.
Our infant daughter wouldn’t eat, and wouldn’t stop crying. Her nose gushed. Her fever kept creeping up, higher and higher. A bright red rash was spreading up and down her legs. And so, we spent that Sunday afternoon at an emergency center, where we learned she’d caught respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a “common” illness among infants. Left untreated, though, it can lead to serious lung infections, and death.
It was a miserable, sleepless week.
Fortunately, the ER was almost empty. We didn’t have to wait long for a whole slew of doctors to help us. Just knowing what she had, and what we should do, was an enormous relief.
A few days later, we came down with RSV, and got to experience what our daughter had gone through. Imagine feeling like you’ve been ingested by a python, but you still have to care for a child who’s recovering from illness herself. Statistically, what we had was “mild,” which means a high chance of full recovery if you’re treated.
In America, we never question the if part…
We’re spoiled like that.
Americans don’t understand “mild” disease.
We keep using the term “mild,” which is subjective and relative. Anything can be “mild” compared to something else. An illness that’s “mild” under one set of circumstances is serious under a different set.
Years ago, I caught Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), another “mild” disease that used to kill in biblical numbers. According to the CDC, the hospitalization rate hovers around 70 percent, with a mortality rate of 4 percent, and that’s with treatment. Left untreated, the mortality rate for RMSF rises to 30 percent or higher.
It’s transmitted by ticks.
Imagine having an illness that kills roughly one in three people if left untreated. It gives you a little perspective.
I laughed when the doctor told me what I had. It sounded like a song someone would play on a banjo. He cut me a look I’ll never forget, then said with a measured tone, “Your…