10 Thoughts I Had While my Entire Family Was Sick With the Flu
Hel-lo, WORLD! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I feel like I am dusting the rubble off as I peak my head out to check for safety. You see, it was January 21st when what seemed like, a typical low-grade fever crept over my oldest's forehead. Little did I know, as she assumed her position on the couch that day, that Flu A had descended on our home and would take us out entirely. ALL. Of. Us. For nearly three weeks. I am aware that my next statement showcases my privilege, as well as some good old melodrama but it's my experience, so let's continue. I can wholeheartedly say that the past three weeks rank up there as one of the worst experiences of my life. True story. Stick with me, and I'll share with you ten thoughts I had while we, my entire family and I, were Flu stricken.
1. This is not happening.
When I say, we got hit. I mean it like we were sucker punched, fast, and hard - nearly everyone, all at once. Most traumatically, being all three kids ranging in ages from 7 years to 20 months being simultaneously ill. We have had illnesses sweep through and take out the kids, you know, like one at a time - with a day or two between each child. NEVER all at once. The emotional and physical load of caring for three children who are ill with a potentially dangerous illness, at the same time, is more than I can express with ten fingers and 84 keys.
2. I'm sorry.
Admittedly, this was the first time in 34 years that I have ever had the flu. Some might even say that I might have been slightly insensitive 7 years ago when my husband tested positive for Flu B. And it may or may not be true, that I believed since skirting said husband's Flu, and all other Cases of flu my entire life, that I carried some super special natural flu immunity. I see that eye roll, and all I can offer is my sincere apology to all flu victims - past, present, and future, amen.
3. I want my mom.
Edit, I want my mommy. As we rounded day four with all three kids sick, and I felt the twinge of a headache, and the telltale body aches I knew, that not only was this actually happening, but I was going down, too. Insert sheer terror. But how is this even possible, I thought. I am the mom, and everyone is still sick, what am I going to do. Imma call my momma (and my husband's mama), that's what I'm going to do. So Mimi & Ceca came to the rescue, with a combined 71 years of motherhood behind them, to prove that mamahood is a lifetime gig. From soup to laundry, and all the things, our moms saved the day (truth: not all heroes wear capes). It has been a concerted effort to raise our children close to their grandparents and cousins, and I have never been more grateful for our support system them I was these past few weeks.
4. If I died would anybody notice?
Family aside, I couldn't help but notice that while I had seemingly dropped off the face of the earth and dead air had entirely taken over all my social channels and business interactions, my proverbial phone wasn't ringing much. It's incredible to think that in this day in age most of us interface with 10's (or 100's+!) of people each day if you consider social media. Those that check in on you may end up being far fewer than you think. Take stock of who those people are and nurture those relationships. Those are the people you want in your corner.
5. Flu A- The new couples counseling.
I'm not sure if everyone finds group illness so cathartic, but for us, this nasty little virus seemed to bring to the surface all the cracks in our marital foundation; that luckily through more tears, had us emerge out the other side stronger.
6. Am I losing my mind?
Refer to number one and review the points on the emotional load of caregiving for the young and needy. Then factor in being the most physically exhausted I have been since the newborn stage, AND include in the PTSD I have from almost losing my sister to Toxic Shock Syndrome 16 years ago, and you have a hot psychological mess on your hands. As in certifiable. Between tracking fluid input and output, counting resting respirations, monitoring fevers, and medications, for four people, I literally could not anymore. If I wasn't crying at every private opportunity to release the stress of the situation, then I was thinking about how all I wanted to do was sit down and cry. Or I would just call my mom and tell her I just kept crying. Lather, rinse, repeat.
7. Is it weird if I give everyone breastmilk?
Let's all join together in a collective amen to celebrate the power of breastmilk. While my little guy's fluid strike on anything but the breast was super stressful, it was amazing how quickly he rebounded - faster than all of us to be exact. He was back at his toddler cave baby ways in about 72 hours. So yes, as I saw him regain his health and strength, I did find myself plotting ways to express milk and feed it to EVERYONE; for inquiring minds, I did not. One of the most beautiful parts this whole experience was watching my body do exactly what I ( and science) always say the body will - produce and supply a suckling baby/child with premium nourishment regardless of mom's diet (which was slim to none in my case). I may have lost my butt and breasts altogether, but he thrived, and it was an incredible thing to experience first hand.
8. F^@K It, I'm going to the gym.
I did not think this during our Flu, but more during the bouts of secondary illnesses we have incurred just on the heels on the Flu. I transitioned, rather seamlessly I might add, directly from the flu into a sinus infection. However, come week number three of being hunkered down and caregiving and feeling the need to intentionally move my body (refer to the previous point on the case of the disappearing booty), and I said enough is enough. I popped my morning Sudafed, put on my, now loose, leggings, and headed to the gym. At that point, I was ready for a nap, and considering I wasn't on a suicide mission, opted for reading a book while I walked on the treadmill. Booty rebuilding would have to wait. The point here? The body is an incredible thing, and it will tell you what it needs, all you have to do is listen. When it says to go slow or sleep, as it did in my case, directly after that "workout," respect it. *NOTE: I practiced a great degree of personal responsibility (lots of hand washing/hand sanitizer, limited touching and cleaning with wipes of shared surfaces, and using my elbow to sneeze or cough if needed when out in the general population).
9. Keep your sick kids HOME!
Guys! I can't even, anymore. Like really, I can't. Did you read the section on me losing my mind?! Just when I thought our lives were returning to normal, and only FIVE days back in school my oldest came home from school with a fever. Be right back - sobbing (while also preparing to baker act myself). Here's how this works for those who are unaware. A kid has a fever. The parent or guardian keeps the kid home (as in do not pass go, do not collect $200). And since this concept appears to be possibly confusing, I'll be more specific; the full policy is that the kid stays home an ADDITIONAL 24 HOURS after the fever subsides, AND said kid feels better. I get it, I do. It's never convenient for a child to be out of school due to illness. Hey, the kids gotta eat and we gotta work. I get it. But please, for the love of all that's holy, follow the protocol. For a self-employed family, like ours, there is no paid sick time.
10. Thank you, baby Jesus for our health.
Melodrama aside, there is a happy ending to this. While we ride out our precautionary 24-hour window before my oldest returns to school, the sun is in fact shining, and we are all for the most part healthy. While our run in with Flu A was difficult and, at some moments scary, I recognize that many families go through so much more in the way of illnesses. I have never been more grateful for our health as a family then after going through the past three weeks.
So there you have it, folks, a peek inside the silence that has been Family Health Tips the past few weeks. Well, the above points plus one last musing. Am I the last person on earth to know what a horrifyingly fascinating person Ted Bundy was?! Two words. Ted Bundy Tapes. Ok, three words. But seriously, if NetFlix only had two genres to choose from, murders or cakes, I would be team murders all the way - so there's, that.