Monday, December 2, 2013

Look Out It's Cold and Flu Season

My second winter as a stay-at-home grandma to E1, when she was finally walking and getting into things, I got a quick refresher in what it really means to "enjoy" the cold and flu season.

E1 quickly earned the nickname of "Typhoid Mary," if that gives a clue what the winter was like.

Before that winter, I don't remember the last time I had really been sick, especially with a stomach bug.

Little children, you see, are a breeding ground for all kinds of ailments. They seem to attract them like a magnet with metal filings. Just let them walk through a room where someone is sick, and they will be sick as well. Not only that, but they will share it with their closest caregivers, probably before anyone realizes they are sick, and then be better before the adults around them.

It's a completely unfair arrangement.

After all, it wasn't me that played with the toy someone else had played with, then put my hand in my mouth or rubbed my nose or eyes. Why did I have to be sick? Of course, there is no way to follow them around and sanitize their hands every time they pick up anything, or spray everything with disinfectant before they touch it. And it wouldn't be healthy anyway. If we could manage to do that, then they would never begin to build up the natural resistance that will eventually mean they don't catch everything that goes around.

After three winters with E1, I'm hoping that my resistance to the childhood ailments they may pick up has improved, but I still haven't forgotten that winter and face the season with a bit of dread.

The first sign of bad news came in with the new year, when we were celebrating at church with appetizers and desserts and a lot of singing. It was a good time, right up until the time it wasn't. I hadn't had a stomach bug in what seemed forever and the last time I'd thrown up it was from too much alcohol, not an unfriendly virus. All the same, I recognized the signs of impending doom. We made it home before I was hit full throttle and I spent the next two days near a porcelain throne with nothing staying down other than Coca Cola. Talk about kicking your new year's weight loss off with a bang.

That was just the beginning though. By February, when her Momma was in the hospital delivering E2, she had brought home another bug that had us all sick. I was so sick I couldn't be there when the baby was born, and, of course, I was babysitting anyway. That one turned out to be RSV, which research says we all pretty much catch repeatedly in our lives. Of course the first time is the worst and not only E1 had it, but within a week of delivery E2 as well. All the adults in their lives were also sick and it seemed to last forever. Mom and baby spent four days in the hospital. Ma had extended child care. Even now the girls cannot take the nasal flu vaccine because they wheeze when they're sick. Not something to mess around with.

Last winter paled in comparison, yet still I feel I catch more than my fair share as an adult -- too many little hands touching things and then little faces, little mouths, little eyes and noses. Then they come to me for kisses, or a sip of my drink or a nibble of my food, or simply want to be close, and there's no way to say no to those faces. There's no room in my heart to worry about what unnamed virus they may be bringing me that I won't know they have until long after they've shared it with me. For little people who generally must be practically forced to share, they are incredibly generous when it comes to the ailments they collect.

So as the temperature falls and we huddle indoors recycling the same old air, I up my dosage of vitamin C, echinacea and zinc, use a nasal spray and keep hand sanitizer handy. I know it won't save me. It's like putting on a life vest when you fall in an ocean full of sharks.

Something is sure to get me, but I darned sure don't want to drown.

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