The Mom Stop: Bitten by the flu bug again
In last week’s column, I wrote about the coronavirus and the steps my family is taking to avoid catching the flu this time of year. We’ve gotten flu shots and emphasized the importance of handwashing with the kids. We’ve also given the kids miniature hand sanitizer bottles and attached them to their backpacks.
I think I jinxed us. Little did I know that the flu bug would hit us again, the third (or is it fourth?) year in a row.
Having a large family that includes young children basically means our house is a Petri dish of germs. From the moment our oldest child started preschool several years ago until now, when we have two kids in elementary and one in preschool, I’ve realized we are doomed when it comes to the various “popular” viruses that circulate through the schools. Sure, I’ll continue to do the handwashing and hand sanitizer and I’m definitely pro-vaccines.
But on a day like today, I wonder if I should just resign myself to the fact that we will get the flu, or stomach bug, or strep or whatever the virus of the moment may be.
As I write this, I’m exhausted because I’ve been playing a parental game of keep-away all day with my kids. Not keep-away with toys. Keep away from each other.
About 10 days ago, we heard that one child in our 4-year-old’s preschool classroom had the type B flu. No reason to panic, I thought. It was a Friday, which meant I was happy for my youngest child to spend the weekend at home, and we hoped that by Monday morning the preschool classroom would be fully disinfected.
And then Monday morning, we received word that four children in her very small class had gotten the type A flu. We didn’t even make it through the day before the teacher called to report that our own child had a fever of 100.5 degrees and that we needed to come get her.
Off to the doctor we went and I prepared to spend my daughter’s weight in gold on Tamiflu. One Christmas, when three of our family of five came down with the flu, we all went on Tamiflu, which meant we spent almost as much on medicine that year as we did on presents for the kids.
But this time, the doctor walked in and said the flu test was negative. I raised my hands in the air and started to say “Yaaay!” before the doctor stopped me.
“It’s probably the flu anyways, it’s just too early to get a positive (test result).”
And, so, we employed the Tamiflu, with a combination of Tylenol and ibuprofen.
I was fairly optimistic we could control the spread of the flu within our house because it was early in the week and our big kids would be at school during the day. But thanks to Mother Nature, school was canceled because of flash flooding. I absolutely respect being on the safe side when it comes to driving conditions. But I would have borrowed a boat to take my big kids to school just in order for them not to be around their flu-infested little sister for eight hours.
Which has resulted in the game of keep-away, a very difficult thing to do with a family of five in a very small house. Our sick kiddo ended up in our bedroom most of the day, playing on the iPad, watching TV and not acting sick at all.
We tried to keep the big kids separate out of an abundance of caution. We encouraged “quiet” time and let everyone play on electronics a lot more than normal. But I’m fairly certain that, with our luck, someone else will get the flu. It’s just a matter of time.
This is a difficult time of year, when the holidays are over but it’s not quite spring, weather is (sometimes) cold but then there’s a mix of warmer temperatures, severe weather, hail or even snow. It’s a time of year when Mother Nature just can’t make up her mind. And it’s flu season, which doesn’t make the winter months much easier.
And so I’m counting down the weeks until warmer weather, when the flu season has passed. Spring can’t get here soon enough.
Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.