When people refer to very medically-involved individuals there are 2 terms that seem to be used often- Medically Complex and Medically Fragile. Neither is really offensive, and there is no right or wrong term. Recently as I was explaining some of the vision behind Casey’s Circle and used the term Medically Complex frequently when referring to the population we serve, I was asked why I say “complex” versus “fragile”?
Good question! Casey was absolutely fragile when it came to her medical condition. Someone could be in the same house (never even coming on contact with Casey) and she could catch the slightest cold or flu that would often lead to much more. However, 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 comes to her perseverance and her determination, she was not fragile at all. She was more like a superhero than fragile.
When I think of the term Medically Fragile I think of babies, not Casey. I personally don’t like to use the term Medically Fragile when referring to Casey or other kids like her because I feel like it takes away from how strong she/they really are.
If someone else were to refer to Casey as Medically Fragile, I would not take offense to term, nor would I correct them. I personally chose to use Medically Complex. Casey was complex in many ways, medical is just one. If you prefer to think of your child as Medically Fragile, please don’t see us using the term Medically Complex as offensive. “To-may-to”, “To-mah-to”