My Illness and Your Illness Could Kill Me

Excuse me. You’re sneezing and wiping your nose, and that makes me very uncomfortable. I have Primary Immunodeficiency Syndrome. That, in combination with whatever you have, could make me very sick. If you have the flu, I could get pneumonia. I could die.

I’m asking for you to go home, where you can take care of yourself without spreading your illness to all of us. I know you don’t like that, but my health is vitally important to me. I’m sorry if you’re offended, but you know that I have this condition.

It’s something I was born with.

Some kids with Primary Immunodeficiency Syndrome or other immune system disorders get really sick. That’s what happened to me when I was little. My parents found out that I had PI after I spent weeks in the hospital.

Other kids develop specific primary immunodeficiency disorders, which require them to undergo bone marrow transplants.

I’ve been lucky so far. My parents taught me how to take care of my health and just how important it was for me to stay away from people who are ill. They found a primary immunodeficiency support group, which helped them to find information about my condition.

Because my immune system is so weak, I have to be very careful. I’m not being rude when I ask you to stay away from me. I know that, if our positions were reversed, you’d want me to stay at home too. Yes, I can wash my hands, but it’s best for me not to be exposed to germs in the first place. They’re dangerous to me, plain and simple. I try my best to stay away from anyone who’s obviously sick. But we work together, am I right? You get it.

I’m one of the “lucky” ones. There’s another form of primary immunodeficiency disease, Primary humoral immunodeficiency disorder, which, despite its name, is no laughing matter. These people also fight severe infections and are often in and out of the hospital all the time, and it can stunt kids’ growth and development. I remember missing school when I was a child. I also missed birthday parties. Mostly that was because I was sick myself, but once I was able to go, and my parents parents took me back home immediately when they noticed that another kid had a cough.

How did I get PI?

Well, in my case it goes back to problems in my DNA. You could say that most primary immunodeficiency diseases are inherited. It runs in my family, so we’re pretty used to what happens and how we’re supposed to take care of ourselves… which brings me back to my original request: Is there any way you can go home, now that you know how dangerous you are to me? I know you mean no harm and I’m sure you’d feel much better, in your own home, sleeping this off.

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