To the mom who doesn’t want to use antibiotics to treat her child who may have pertussis:

You're a single mom. You work hard to support yourself and your son. As you've said, times are tough. And I imagine, when you look around after a long day you don't see or feel a lot of luxuries bestowed upon you. Yet, you have so many.

You have the luxury of never having seen your child blue and unresponsive in the ICU, undergoing CPR because he can't breathe.

You have the luxury of never having sat in a room numbly listening to test results that show your child doesn't have asthma, but has permanent lung damage from too many respiratory ailments.

You have the luxury of living in a time and place where children do not have to die of childhood illnesses, and they do not have to play the odds to earn natural immunity. What odds? The odds that say: Your child survives the illness? Congratulations! Natural immunity. Your child dies from the illness? A less preferable form of natural immunity.

Further, you have the luxury of living near a variety of pharmacies that will provide antibiotics that can cure/lessen/prevent the spread of these deadly illnesses.

I completely understand not wanting to overuse antibiotics. I support the desire and action to prevent superbugs and antibiotic residue leaching into the world. What I don't completely understand is watching your child suffer when there is medicine right at your fingertips that will lessen his suffering. And not only will it lesson his suffering, it will render the bacteria non-contagious. So that epic cough he suffers for weeks? The antibiotics make him feel a little better AND prevent him from infecting a child like my son who has not had the luxury of perfect health and who does not get to start a bacterial battle from the foundation of perfectly sized and healthy lungs.

So while "everyone gets sick" and "everyone shares airspace while they're sick" and "people get pertussis and don't know about it all the time", you have the luxury of, if not knowing for 100%, suspecting what may be true. You have a head start on "everyone else". You could be a hero and save many people.

Your son's antibiotic could not just save his life, it could save my son's life.

My luxury? It's in your hands.

I say this not to start a fight, or even to engage in debate. I just say it so that you can see the other side of the story. The perspective I have attained over the years is a luxury of my own – but it is also a burden. It can make me seem self-righteous. It can make me seem alarmist. It can make me seem overly dependent on Western medicine.

But you know what? I can be self-righteous. I can be alarmist. I do, very often, depend on Western medicine. Why? Because I have seen the scariest of the scary things. And these scariest of scary things? They are not antibiotics.

So I beg you to talk to your pediatrician. Seek out a definitive answer. Treat as if that answer is "yes". Warn your child's school and your everyday contacts. You never know whose child has a half-sister with an immune disorder. You never know which teacher is pregnant but has told no one yet.

There are so many things you don't know. And while that may seem like a luxury, trust me, it's not.