Fighting flu in my houseWhen it comes to germs or bacteria, I’m just not much of a worrier. Generally if food drops on the floor and the dog doesn’t get it first, I consider it still OK for the kids. On the rare occasion when my children get sick, I figure “they’ll get over it.” And I’ve heard that children who grow up around dust have fewer allergies. Let’s just say my house is a case in point.
By: Betsy Hart, The Dickinson Press
When it comes to germs or bacteria, I’m just not much of a worrier. Generally if food drops on the floor and the dog doesn’t get it first, I consider it still OK for the kids. On the rare occasion when my children get sick, I figure “they’ll get over it.” And I’ve heard that children who grow up around dust have fewer allergies. Let’s just say my house is a case in point.
I’m typically the one pooh-poohing (and writing about) the latest health scare.
But, even I believe that H1N1 (swine) flu is different. Yes, there’ve “only” been some 550 such flu deaths in children in the U.S. so far — the real number is probably higher — and millions have likely already suffered from the virus. But that’s still at least five times as many child-deaths as occur from regular flu in an entire season, and we’ve only hit November. Plus, children are far more likely to be hospitalized from H1N1 than from the seasonal flu. Many of these kids had no other health problems.
So, I admit that I’ve been a little hyper. Hand sanitizer everywhere. Having us all gargle with Listerine. Trying desperately to get H1N1 flu shots. Forget it, since they are being distributed by the government “for free.”
In spite of my best efforts, two of my kids have already been hit. Ouch. Of course I felt like an idiot because though I was on the lookout for the virus, I didn’t recognize it the first few days that Tori, my 13-year-old, had it. That’s because her fever started low. She has of course used that against me ever since. Still Tamiflu, the fabulous “antiviral” drug (best if given early), helped her out and she was on her feet pretty quickly.
Maddie, my 10-year-old, woke up one morning about a week later with a 103-degree fever and so miserable and sick. In to the doc we went but he was a different pediatrician than we’d seen with Tori. Strangely, even after the swab test told us it was H1N1, I had to wrestle him for the Tamiflu. He explained that there were some risks to the drug (turns out it’s mostly the possibility of nausea) and at best it would shorten the illness by a few days. A few days? Um, to a single mom of four that would be roughly one lifetime.
More importantly, here’s the math. Children don’t die from using Tamiflu. Many have died from H1N1. Hand it over pal. He did and 36 hours later, she was doing great. Note to self: you really can live better through chemistry.
Now I’m back on the hunt for a vaccine for the rest of us. I called the Chicago/Cook County Health Department this week and finally got someone on the line this time. They can fit us in — in January. The county next door has an appointment in 10 days for one person. I grabbed it. I’ll take the two who haven’t been sick and either the clinic can give me an extra dose, or I suppose it will be a kind of a “Sophie’s Choice” situation for me.
Meanwhile, my own doctor has given me Tamiflu so I have that standing by to start downing in the first split seconds of illness if I need it. But no, not for my sake. I myself just can’t become ill because of the fundamental difference between a mom’s world and a child’s.
Maddie so succinctly clarified it all when she innocently looked at me and asked, “gee mom if you got sick that would be awful — who would take care of us?”
— Hart hosts the “It Takes a Parent” radio show. E-mail her at email@example.com.