The last few times I found myself tossing and turning in bed thinking about Gili’s illness, it had nothing to do with big long-term questions: Will she walk? Will she have friends? Will she have a satisfying life? I’ve been worrying about the questions on other people’s minds.
At the end of the summer I visited a potential school for my daughter. We got a ride home and the conversation eventually turned to CMV (not a common topic when I first meet people, but it happened.) The mother asked if my kids had it. I very nonchalantly shrugged and said, “I don’t know, probably.” Gili got it from me; I probably got it from my kids. If one has it, I can’t imagine they don’t both have it. It was only that evening when it hit me that the mother may have been very concerned about having her daughter in class with my daughter. My daughter was riding home sitting in between her little girls and it was only in retrospect that I realized her concern.
Now we are waiting to find out if Gili will be allowed to do water therapy. She needed a letter from Professor Amir saying she wasn’t contagious. He wrote what I worried he might, true but no help to us: all young children may carry CMV. It is understandable, but frustrating that she is being treated this way. She is less likely to be contagious than your average preschooler, and yet because she was born with it, they insist on taking extra precautions.
CMV is like AIDS when you compare it to how misunderstood it is about contagion, and yet it is more like chicken pox in its risk. Much like chicken pox, you’re better off getting it when you’re young. Especially if you are a woman, better to get it long before you might get pregnant. So why are we so worried about one child who may possibly be contagious? It’s usually only dangerous if you’re pregnant or close to getting pregnant, in which case you should be careful off all kids. Just use proper hygiene! Wash you hands, don’t kiss their snotty nose, and don’t drink their pee! And yet the teachers have no problem kissing Gili on the face and then, I assume, also kissing other kids on the face. But they’re worried about a chlorinated pool??