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3 Things Swine Flu Made Me Grateful For

Swine flu vaccineThe elementary school called this morning, less than 30 minutes after I gotten home from the morning drop off – never a good sign.  The office was checking up on a story they had heard from one of the parents.   The secretary seemed almost embarrassed to ask me.  But she needed to verify this parent’s concern: Was it really true that my kids had swine flu?

Oh those two scary words, that you can’t help but hear everywhere you turn these days.  Every night on the evening news there is another story about swine flu.  Or the H1N1 vaccine.  Or the raising number of children’s deaths being attributed to this potent flu strain.  Parents are going crazy with too much talk and fragmented pieces of information being floated around – and no one can blame them if they do over react.  The media has built this into a feeding frenzy.

The even crazier part is that though the newspaper says it is predicted that in my particular county in my state, over half the residents will get swine flu, no one really knows if they have had it or not.  Most people don’t get this long, long thingamajig (don’t you love my medical jargon) stuck up, up, up their nose to the farthest depths imaginable to obtain the appropriate sample to test.  I happened to have had that experience, and although unpleasant, I can now say with certainty that YES, we tested positive for swine flu.

I use the term “We” in the collective sense.  My children weren’t tested.  Put me down as taking one for the team. When I first brought my son into the pediatrician’s office (with his high fever and sore throat) I had a bit of a mother’s hunch that is what we were dealing with.  I asked about it like any responsible parent would (or so I thought).  The doctor in turn gave me a death glare.  “We can’t possible test every sick kid that comes in the office to see if they have it or not!  That’s all we’d be doing all day.”

Well, I wasn’t asking about EVERY sick kid – just mine!  But I get her point (although the condescending tone needed to go).  Doctors in general seem exasperated by the whole topic.  To them it is just another flu strain.  To the media it is a worldwide epidemic.  To parents, it is a source of mass confusion.  You read the most recent report of children’s deaths rising because of it.  You hear about the uncertainty with whether or not to vaccinate and all the various opinions for and against.  It has gotten to a point where I’m not sure if the media reporting is helping or hurting parents in their quest to do what is right for their children.

I understand the worry this mom from school had.  Over HALF of my daughter’s Kindergarten class was out this week.  The teacher told me she couldn’t present the lesson she had planned for that week because too many kids would miss it.  This mom was scared.  Doctors say it’s just the flu.  The media says kids are dying.  It’s a lot to take in and sort out.

For this Zen Mama Wannabe, having been to the Dark Side, and back, here is what having the swine flu taught me:

1.    For starters, I actually feel a sense of relief.  I’m glad to know with certainty that we had it.  Because now it is over for us.  I don’t have to worry about H1N1 for the rest of the flu season.  As soon as we are completely back to normal, we’ll go get our seasonal flu shots.  Yes, I know we may get a random flu bug this winter.  But, hopefully we’ve had the worst of it (and believe me, we had it bad – my son and husband in particular have NEVER been so sick) and can sail along through the holidays with all the various performances and engagements we have scheduled without missing out when it really matters.

2.    I don’t have to worry anymore about whether to vaccinate for swine flu and if so, whether to go with the mist or the shot and if they need one dose or two, etc.  I was following all the coverage, gathering information so I could make the best-informed decision and it was overwhelming.  Compounding the issue, so many parents have strong opinions on this; it was getting hard to sort what was true and what were merely personal feelings.  I’m so grateful we are now out of the debate!

3.    Finally, just like any time you are really sick, it makes you appreciate your good health when you have it.  I’m so grateful my kids and my husband and I are healthy.  When I had that high fever for 3 straight days, I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I couldn’t even get myself up to pour a glass of orange juice.  I appreciate the energy I have now.  My head doesn’t hurt, my body doesn’t ache…I gotta tell you, I really feel good that I’m alive.

These things may not help YOU, I realize that, other than perhaps reminding you not to take your health for granted.  What I can suggest is to stay diligent in the flu prevention department (swine flu or otherwise).  That means washing your hands, washing your hands, washing your hands – all the time.  Use that hand sanitizer (which I am horrible at doing – hmmm) every time you or your kids get in the car.  Try to keep your hands off your face (or, like in my son’s case, out of his mouth – ah, another reason NOT to bite your fingernails)!

Preventing the flu means getting enough Vitamin C on a regular basis.  It means getting enough sleep so that your body is rested and able to fight on the germs in comes in contact with.  Some people swear by gargling with warm salt water.  That happened to be my dad’s answer to just about anything, from his Navy days aboard ship.  Though I spent years rejecting his wisdom, experts today recommend this home remedy, saying that it helps keep germs from settling in and thus getting you sick.  Dr. Oz has talked about neti pots as a way to clean out nasal cavities (same idea as the salt water for your mouth/throat).  All easy ways to hopefully keep these nasty germs at bay.

Sure, we made it through the swine flu.  All we have now are the lingering hacky coughs making us sound like a family of seals.  But it was scary – to see my children THAT sick, to be that sick myself that I couldn’t get myself out of bed much less help the rest of my family, to have my husband’s case take a turn for the worse (respiratory distress) where even dragging him to the doctor wasn’t enough (we were this close to making a trip to the Emergency Room – and I was terrified).  I must say, I get all the hype.

Appreciate your good health.  But don’t think for a second this one can’t hit you.  We were a healthy family of 4 – and we went down for the count.  It may be just another flu strain.  However, for all the hype, it’s a flu strain that is killing people.  Don’t over-react, but don’t take it lightly.  Above all, be reminded, as this Zen Mama Wannabe was, that when you have your health, you really have just about everything.

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3 Responses to “3 Things Swine Flu Made Me Grateful For”

  1. GLoria Says:
    October 18th, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Good Article Zen Mama….I’m going to go gargle and wash my hands right now!!! Glad you and your family are feeling better!!!

  2. LarkLady Says:
    October 18th, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Things I learned this past year:
    Gargling with warm salt water really does seem to be effective in reducing your vulnerability to germs and in reducing the symptoms if you do get sick.
    Vicks VapoRub actually does more harm than good… even if it feels good, it closes, not opens, the breathing passages.

    And I hope all the people who have smirkingly accused me of OCD because I wash my hands a lot read your blog! 🙂

  3. Aishah Says:
    September 19th, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    tso222What you guys do is brilliant. You’re cnihgang something. You don’t realize it yet, but you have a kindred spirit in this society that makes someone like Jon Stewart inherently more human than Stephen Colbert, but that doesn’t mean that Stephen Colbert isn’t equally as good. They balance each other well. But you know deep down that it’s about Stewart, the same way deep down you know it’s about McCartney. Partnerships elevate us.PS: Wouldn’t it be nice if YouTube encouraged me to write long

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