Fight­ing off the bugs in a sea­son of colds, fevers and flu

The Covington News - - Sunday Living -

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 kari@kari­apted.com.

Kari Apted

Colum­nist

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