When people refer to individuals who are very medically-involved, there are 2 terms that are used often. “Medically complex” and “medically fragile.” Neither is offensive. Neither is right or wrong.
Recently, as I was talking about my nonprofit, Casey’s Circle, http://caseyscircle.org I used the term “medically complex” when referring to the population we serve. Someone asked why I say “complex” instead of “fragile”?
Casey was very fragile when it came to her medical condition. Someone could be in the same house—never even coming in contact with Casey—and Casey could catch the slightest cold or flu. Often, small things would lead to a much more serious illness.
I never liked to think of her as fragile. She was invincible in so many other ways. She overcame more in her life than most of us will ever face. She was stronger than anyone I have ever known. When it came to her perseverance and determination, she was not fragile. She was more like a superhero.
When I think of the term “medically fragile,” I think of babies. Not Casey. I don’t like to use that term when referring to Casey or other kids like her. I feel like it takes away from how strong they really are. But if someone were to refer to Casey as medically fragile, I would not take offense at the term. Nor would I correct them.
I chose to use “medically complex.” Casey was complex in many ways, and medical is one. You may choose to think of your child as medically fragile. Please don’t hear either term as offensive. Both are acceptable.
Healthcare decisions should be based on the needs of patients, not their age. Pediatric patients are treated based on their size. The right dose of medicine is determined using their height and weight. Equipment is sized for their safety and comfort.
Categories: Diagnosis & Health Care
“What’s wrong with your child?” are the hardest words to hear. Finding a diagnosis for your child is one step in the right direction. Navigating the various challenges your child will face can be overwhelming. Keep showing up and facing the challenges.