Friday, March 22, 2013

Too Healthy?

A few days ago, I got a call from Janey's school nurse.  Janey has a red area on her face, which I had been assuming was dry irritated skin, but the nurse (who is fantastic) thought it might be strep.  She said a lot of kids in Janey's class had recently had strep which first presented itself as a red face race.  So Tony got Janey early from school and took her to the pediatrician's office.  They did a rapid strep test, which I wasn't too surprised was negative, and they said that they did think it was just dry skin.  I wasn't surprised not because I doubted the nurse, but because Janey almost never gets sick.

When Janey was younger, she did get sick now and then, but not as much as most kids do.  She has some fevers that would come and go, and she occasionally had colds, but never the illnesses her brother had, like croup or pneumonia or roseola.  Starting about three years ago, she started to basically never get sick beyond a very mild cold.  Sometimes, half her class would have whatever was going around, but Janey stayed steadfastly healthy.  She's had only one ear infection ever, and last year she missed only one day of school, for a non-illness reason.  And this is a girl that despite our best efforts, do not keep her hands out of her mouth, does not wash her hands unless we are there making her, does not practice on her own basic sanitation things that are recommended to keep someone healthy.

My pediatrician has noted Janey's lack of illness, and said she's probably in the 98% or 99% percentile in terms of healthiness.  He also noted it's something he sees fairly often in autistic kids.  I have my own theory about it, which ties into my favorite autism cause theory, that's it's an autoimmune disease.  I think Janey's immune system is hugely overactive.  I'm not a doctor or medically trained, so I could be extremely off on how these things work, but it seems that she attacks any potential germs with way more than the normal force.  And I would not be at all surprised if that is what happened when she had her big regression.  Somehow, her immune system went wild and attacked her brain.  

Whatever the reason for Janey not getting sick, it's a nice thing.  I am knocking on wood all over the place here, as I don't want to tempt fate.  I can't imagine how Janey would deal with a major illness.  She would have no real idea why she was in pain, and she would not at all like to have to take more medication.  But if getting a little more sick a little more often would have meant that Janey wouldn't become autistic---well, I think that would have been a fair trade-off.  But those aren't choices we make---they are made for us.

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