It is only within the last few years that when we hear a cough, we no longer turn our heads reflexively to find out if it is coming from our daughter Caitlin. This pavlovian conditioning is the legacy of Caitlin’s life with asthma, starting from the age of 6 months. By the time she was 2 years old, she had been hospitalized twice, including a 4-day stay in the pediatric intensive care unit on a ventilator. The first night of her pediatric intensive care unit stay, we left at 10 PM (parents were not allowed 24-hour access in 1987). Too exhausted and too drained to cook, we went out for dinner. While we waited in the restaurant, we joked in full black humor that this was likely the most expensive babysitter we would ever hire. Once back in her own territory, Caitlin spent the next several months freaking out whenever the microwave beeped. Having been slow learners, only after creative conversations with our 2-year-old did we realize that the sound was too reminiscent of background noise during her hospital stay.
Joffe A, Radius S. Symptom-Free Day—$68; 2 Weeks of Childhood—Priceless. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159(5):498-499. doi:10.1001/archpedi.159.5.498