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By:  Darlene Zagata






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Dealing With A Grandchild's Illness


It can be devastating to new parents and grandparents when a grandchild suffers from an illness of any sort, but when hospitalization is required, it can be downright frightening. I experienced this type of situation when my grandson was born. His birth was not unusual in any sense. He appeared healthy and was released from the hospital in the normal amount of time, but the day after being sent home, he stopped breathing. This occurred not once, but several times in the course of a day.

He was immediately rushed to the local hospital and was soon transferred to a nearby pediatrics unit. His parents were understandably frazzled. It took days of testing before the doctors were able to provide my grandson's parents with an explanation for his condition. The baby was finally diagnosed with sleep apnea. This is the condition said to be responsible for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), otherwise known as crib death. My granddaughter was perfectly healthy and showed no sign of any abnormalities, so it was difficult to understand why my grandson was afflicted with this condition. We were told that for reasons unknown, the condition affects more male children than female. My grandson was finally released from the hospital, but has been wearing a monitor for the past six months.

The monitor will alert his parents to any cessation of breathing. The most important thing a grandparent can do for their children and grandchildren in a situation such as this, is to be there to offer support in any way possible. You may be needed to watch other grandchildren in a time of crisis, or to sit with the child while the parents get some rest. You can do chores or run errands that the parents certainly don't have time to be concerned with. Anything you can do to lift some of the weight from their shoulders is a great help indeed. Comforting word, prayers and positive thoughts are just as important; maybe more so than the physical acts of helpfulness that you perform. Just being there and having someone to lean on and talk to for support is greatly appreciated by most everyone.

The doctors say that a child suffering from sleep apnea may need to be kept on a monitor until one year of age. It seems that the condition rarely appears beyond that age. This is a very frightening affliction that could be deadly if it goes undetected. I am thankful that it was detected in my grandson so that his breathing can be monitored. Although there are many possible causes of sleep apnea, the actual reason for this condition remains unknown. Any illness that already afflicts a newborn child is expected to be extremely stressful on new parents and other family members. Learn all that you can about the affliction. Be informed. Be there for each other and the child. The role of a grandparent is to support, nourish, and care for their family as best they can, and this is what we try to do in times of illness. Remember, it's a grandma's love and gentle nurturing that helps bring about the cure, not just the chicken soup.






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