Fighting off the bugs in a season of colds, fevers and flu
Anyone have a crop duster you’d like to loan me? I won’t need it for more than a couple of hours — just long enough to fill it with Lysol and fly a few passes over our community.
Maybe I’m just surrounded by a particularly sick circle of friends, but nearly everyone I know needs a bit of healing. Our homeschooler’s group was cancelled last week because the teachers were too sick to teach. I was relieved because I was still puny from fighting the bug that invaded our house a couple of weeks ago.
Not feverish enough to be influenza, but much worse than an ordinary cold, we’ve all been coughing, sniffling and moping lately. Everyone except my husband —something remarkable and good considering that he brings home the bacon. This bug hangs on and on, and just when you think you’re better, it knocks you onto your back again.
We’ve all heard the news reports about how the flu vaccine hasn’t been very effective this year. I knew we were in trouble when I went to pick up our medication and saw the usual “Beware of Pickpockets” sign covered with one announcing the widespread arrival of the flu.
I didn’t need a sign to tell me that, because all of my friends had already made that much clear. Nor did I need its reminder to wash my hands and cover my mouth when I cough. I’ll confess to being a borderline germophobe. I’m never without my moisturizing hand sanitizer, anti-virus Kleenex, and Zicam nasal swabs.
I avoid sick people as much as I can, but two significant things foil my attempts to stay healthy. Their names are Zachary and Eli — cute little germy boys who like to hang out in germy places with their germy little friends.
Eli could not understand why I refused to take them to Chuck E. Cheese during winter break. He was still hoarse, and his brother was barking like a seal, clutching his chest in pain every time he coughed. As if I would take them out to spread the crud to all the other kids crawling around the place I’ve dubbed “Upchuck and Sneeze…” Let’s be real — a place like that just can’t be made sanitary no matter how often it’s cleaned.
Too much information is out there to nauseate a parent like me. And before I type another word, please be forewarned: if you’re eating, you might want to put the food away. Or, stop reading and resume later. Failure to do so implies an acceptance of any adverse consequences from rejecting said advice, and reader agrees to hold writer and newspaper free from responsibility for damages incurred due to reckless disregard for the above warning.
I knew that colds and flu could be spread through the air. But I only recently learned that it’s possible to catch a stomach virus from inhaling the aerosolized vomit that floats around after someone throws up.
My stomach just flipped as I typed that. We didn’t need to know that, did we? I used to be a vomitphobe in addition to my germophobia, and it’s taken every minute of the past ten years as a mom to desensitize me to being around puking people. But learning that I could get sick just from breathing the same air as someone who got sick —it’s just too much.
And wearing a mask wouldn’t help. I remember a doctor telling me that viruses are so tiny; trying to keep them out with a mask is like expecting a chain-link fence to keep mosquitoes out of your back yard.
On a positive note, new research shows that Mom knew best: fresh air really can help sanitize a house full of sickies. So a few days ago, I opened the windows to let the chilled air inside. As I raised the sash, I caught a glimpse of hope. Bare grey branches were swollen with tight, pale buds, pregnant with the promise of March. Frail green daffodil leaves peeped out above the barren winter ground, fluttering hello in the cold winter breeze.
Fly away, flu, and shine on, sun. Spring, any day now — we welcome you to come. Kari Apted may be reached at email@example.com.