Monday, October 12, 2009

Don't Panic!

Well, it's pretty certain: we have swine flu here in our newly painted house. At least, it's certain we have the Type A flu under which the dreaded H1N1 is categorized. This is unfortunate, but as far as we can tell, the sky is not falling nor has the earth crashed into the sun, as we were so helpfully warned by the national and local news outlets for the last six months.

Thus far, the swine flu has manifested as a high fever (102-104.5) in Ben accompanied by a worsening cough and lack of appetite. However, the high fever lasted less than 48 hours, and while he still has a low-grade temperature, he's regaining some energy and spunk.

Of greater concern is Abby, who is also running a low temperature. For her, though, the worry is that the flu will trigger her asthma, that unfortunate condition lurking beneath every viral and bacterial infection, threatening to turn even the most mundane cold into a serious illness. Once again, we've tuned our ears into the slightest changes in her respiration. This morning, her lungs sounded clear. This evening before bed, she teased us with a single, brief coughing spell that had the tight, high tenor of concern. We'll see how she's doing in the morning. I pray we don't hear any coughing through the night.

Which brings me to the real "danger" of this flu: its contagion factor. Approximately sixteen kids in Ben's class were out sick today, many with the same symptoms: fever, cough, general crumminess, and many of them have siblings exhibiting these symptoms. This, of course, is the problem: the more people who get it, the greater the chances that someone will suffer a complication or distress. As with any flu, it's the exception that's of concern, not the general populace.

In the meantime, I can't help but feel like a sitting duck. Josh and I have spent all weekend hugging, kissing, cuddling, wiping noses of, and generally keeping ourselves close to our little germ-ridden kidlets since the the physical presence of Mommy or Daddy is the only panacea on the planet. There is no conceivable way we've escaped exposure, and that's okay. So now we wait--and see if our immune systems are strong enough to fight it off. So far we haven't experienced any signs of illness and I haven't heard of any other parents coming down with it, but I'm not convinced we're through the period of vulnerability yet.

And that's a bummer, because when the kids get sick, the world can come to a temporary and welcome halt while we all snuggle in and ride out the storm together on the couch. In spite of, or perhaps thanks to, Ben's illness, we had a sweet, sweet weekend together. But when we grown people get sick, life continues with or without us. There's no one else to fix the meals, entertain the kids, or handle the logistics of the household. Alas, responsibility calls, swine flu or or not.

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