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Thursday, May 31, 2012


definition: the acute respiratory infection that takes over you body and your home with cough, fever, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, sore throat, fatigue and makes you forget what sunshine is and why people are happy. for maximum misery, sickness can last 7-10 days or longer if you work hard to stagger the sickness in you house so no two people are sick for more than 2 overlapping days.

Yeah, we've had the flu. 

It started with Ella.  She was sick Wednesday through Monday (Memorial Day).   I held her in my arms, listless from a 104 fever, while she coughed all over me.  Naturally, I was sick by late Saturday.  Maya started Wednesday and is still sick.  Sandi is somehow, miraculously, in the clear which is fortunate because she was back at the hospital Tuesday with very little ability to leave and take care of us.  We are on day 9 and I am feeling stir-crazy to say the least.  I don't feel great but I am well enough to now care that I am doing nothing but making imprints of myself on my couch.

Influenza is super contagious and such a long and enduring virus that, to be a good citizen, you must stay at home to keep your sickness to yourself.  I had Influenza a few years ago (the only one in our house by some miracle- I guess adults just have such better hygiene than kids) and was told by the nurse to dig a hole, take my Tamiflu in with me, and come out 7 days later. 

Tamiflu is an anti-viral you can take if you take it within 24-48 hours of symptoms. It is supposed to shorten the course and lessen the severity of the illness.  I went to walk-in care Sunday morning and the nurse practitioner wanted to give me antibiotics for what she deemed was about to be bronchitis, a steroidal inhaler for the same, a rapid strep test and an RSV test.  I was like, whoa, zebras or horses here lady?   Yes, I'm coughing and have a sore throat but I also have body aches and a headache.  Neither strep nor bronchitis have that.

I opted out of the all the tests and asked just for the flu swab (they weren't even going to treat me for flu) but found out that, with the holiday weekend, the results wouldn't come back until Wednesday. I sighed and asked what the point of that was since it would be too late for the Tamiflu.  Finally the N.P. said, "Do you want me to give you the Tamiful anyway?"


Here is what I don't get.  With healthcare battling a tide of rising costs why would a gamut of tests and drugs be prescribed when it seemed evident what I had?  The CDC website lists the symptoms of the flu and I had them all just as Ella had them all.   We get the flu shot because the flu is so contagious and can be threatening to kids and those with weakened immune systems. I know I'm not a medical provider and I appreciate that she was trying to "treat me aggressively because of your chronic illness" as she said, but the whole thing seemed pointless.  I was glad I pushed for what I felt I needed instead of just letting her fill me with pharmaceuticals that likely wouldn't have worked.

And the irony of it is that, while I do think it lessened the length of time I had the flu, the medication itself made me a bit sick.  You take it for 5 days, two doses a day, and each time the last dose would wear off I would perk up, only to be back on the couch, lightheaded and nauseated as soon as I took it. 

The whole thing makes one thought ring loudly in the my head:  those who do not have children (or at least not at home that need to be cared for) should RELISH being sick and only having yourself to care for. I didn't mind sleeping and reading and laying on the couch.  I minded having to care for and manage children while I did it after Sandi went back to work.   To date, this is one of the top three most difficult things about being a mom- being sick and still in charge.  (The other two, in case you are wondering,  are having to pick between which child's needs to fill and having a child in danger/significant pain that I could not fix.)

The Trek Across Maine in two weeks from tomorrow.  I can't imagine walking to the end of my street, let alone biking the 68 miles planned for day one.  I am making incremental progress.

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