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My 1-year-old gets a cold. We treat it with all possible home remedies and it gets worse. And then, one fine day, her breathing becomes labored and she refuses to eat. We rush her to the hospital and the doctor spoke for half an hour and all that I could understand was that she has a respiratory infection, her blood oxygen is low and we need to hospitalize her.
Everything that followed is a nightmare for first time parents that we were, living in a city far away from our hometown. The treatment was pinning down our toddler and putting a mask over her face and keeping her in the same position for 20 minutes. Yes, I am talking about nebulization here. After trying in vain to calm her, I had to look on helplessly as the father tried to hold that struggling, screaming baby on his lap when the hospital staff did their routine. We had to do this not just once or twice, but 4 times a day. At the end of each session I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes and he reciprocated with an empty stare. We realized we were never prepared for this.
With no one to bring you food / change of clothes; the days at the hospital made life hell for us at all levels. Through all this, I had just one question run on repeat mode in my mind. . WHY??? Why did this happen to my kid? Was I a bad mother, who did not care for her baby properly?
But, I got my answer soon. By the time we were discharged from the hospital, about a dozen kids were hospitalized for the same reason i.e. respiratory illness. EVERY parent I spoke to in my apartment complex/ office/ day care said their kid has some form of respiratory issue (asthma, wheezing etc.). The first opinion, second opinion and third opinion pediatricians all said the same thing, “Don’t worry! It’s a common problem in Bangalore”. That’s it! ‘It’s in the air’. No! Not love; Germs. Germs, that causes air-borne infections to my poor baby.
Born and brought up in the queen of hills, I remember laughing at the newspaper cartoons captioned 2020, that showed people paying for clean water and clean air. Then, I thought it was pathetic. Now, I am in that very place by choice.
I know the problem. But, what do I do? Can I compromise on my baby’s health? How do I protect my kid? Isn’t that the most important job of a mother? What’s the solution?
After contemplating the idea of leaving Bangalore (which is hometown to my daughter and a place I love) for a while, I resorted to more practical solutions. First of all, I bought a nebulizer (like most families in my city) to treat her infection, bought an odonil air purifier to give her a break from the germs polluting the air (at least inside the house), started her on homeopathy to build her long term immunity and tweaked her diet to make it as healthy as possible. I have resolved to do everything it takes and I hope to god it works.