Monday, November 9, 2009

Battling The Flu: We've Got it Too

I don't know if we're more sensitive this year or if the flu is stronger, but our family is being walloped by germs.

Last week, my first grader was home all 5 days from school. Four of those days, he had a high fever. He had aches and pains. He had a dry cough.

Fortunately, the cough was short-lived. And no headache.

That means it was standard flu, not H1N1.

Honestly, my heart broke for the little guy. He was so sick that his emotions were on edge all week long. He had no energy and napped for at least a third of each day. Even this weekend, when the fever was gone, his appetite had not fully returned and he tired easily. I'm sending him back to school today, hoping that he'll make it through without getting too exhausted.

When he left with his Daddy, he asked me sincerely to just stay home and play with me. I don't think kids realize how tempting it is for a Mom to just say 'yes'. But I told him it was time to go back and reminded him of all the things he loves about school.

(If I ever considered home-schooling, it would be because of this child. Even when he's home sick, I feel spoiled by having him around. He is my buddy.)

My other two, the more driven ones, are home today instead. They have high fevers that started over the weekend. My oldest is weathering the flu rather well. He at least can play and his fever comes and goes. For my youngest -- my four year old -- the fever is constant, and it has sapped all her energy. She's just laying around in her footie pajamas asking to watch her favorite cartoon, The Pink Panther.

She was a steadfast friend to my first grader when he was sick. She sat with him and entertained him, and what does she get by way of thanks? Germs. Poor girl. She has the aches and the cough, but no headache (thank goodness).

To battle the flu, I've done a few things:

1) I've given them space of their own. We designate one couch as "the sickie bed", covering it with sheets and allowing only the sick child to lay there.

2) I'm pushing fluids. I went to the store and got juices that are my kids' favorites. My daughter can't get enough of Ruby Red Grapefruit juice (because it's pink?) My son is a fan of Cranberry-Apple. I alternate juice and water to keep them hydrated.

3)I'm making chicken soup. Whether it's a simple bowl of chicken ramen noodles or Hearty Chicken Soup with vegetables and noodles, soup really seems to help my kids. It's one of the few things they'll reliably eat when they're feeling feverish. I think the warmth and saltiness of the broth is soothing.

4) I encourage rest. I keep my kids completely out of school and activities. I keep the house quiet and make time for naps. I give them reading time and screen time. If the weather is nice, I might make time for 15 minutes out in the sunshine if they feel up to it, but no running or rough play. Instead, we spend time in the garden or on the swings and then go back inside.

5) I keep them warm, but not too warm. My daughter especially loves her fleece pajamas. But I like to dress my sickies in cotton or other breathable fabrics so they don't get too warm. That way, when their fever spikes, it doesn't have a chance to get dangerously high the way it can when they're bundled too warmly.

6) I treat the fever when needed. I use Motrin (ibuprophen) to control my kids' aches and fever. I know I'm not alone in this -- a weekend visit to Wal-mart found them completely sold out of every brand! Fortunately, I found it at Walgreens, my next stop. So, I stocked up. I always let the medication completely wear off before giving a second dose and take my child's unmedicated temperature. It gives me a good way to measure how the sickness is progressing.

7) I keep our doctor informed. I try to keep a healthy dialogue with our physician and his nurse, even if I don't plan on bringing the kids in. They can give me hints on treatment and let me know what danger signs to look for if my child takes a turn for the worse.

Based on the empty Motrin shelf at the Urbana Wal-mart, I know I'm not the only Mom doing battle right now. Honestly, caring for sick little ones is taking its toll (I'm exhausted!) But, so far so good -- we're not in dangerous territory.

I'm just hoping we're on the road to good health soon.

(But if you'll excuse me, this Midwest Mom is off to disinfect my house again. And get today's pot of chicken soup on to cook. A Mom's work is never done...)

- Midwest Mom


  1. You're very lucky that your doctor's office will talk to you. Ours will not. Period. Only with an appointment. It was very frustrating when J&J had the flu because I did not want them to go sit in the germy waiting room for an hour when I just had basic questions that a phone call could ahve answered. I muddled through on my own.

    Hope it passes quickly. If I lived close I'd be on hand for popsicle runs. You're right, keeping them hydrated is one of the best things...and ibuprofen. Amazing that the stores were out!!!

    Wash your hands lots and try to stay healthy. I hope the other two recover soon.

  2. It's definitely going around, but we've escaped it so far...hydration and Motrin and rest. Good combo!

  3. Hi Julia!
    Awwww, hugs to you ALL! (just don't breathe on me - haha!) As usual you are handling this awful bout of sickies just right! It's really hard to see them so yucked out - you just be sure to stay well yourself! My husband took over being the sickie when the kids left! He would have 3-4 colds, brochonitis and godonlyknowswhat every dang winter. I put both of us on D-3 last fall - it was like a miracle, Julia! He got thru the FIRST winter in 30 years w/o getting sick! And that meant I stayed well! Read Dr. when you have time. Stay well!!!

  4. Oh, Julia, I'm so sorry. So many people are sick around here, too. You are such a wonderful mom and it sounds like you've got an amazing sick bay going over there! :)

  5. I remember that you once posted that you have special toys, like a doctor's kit that you let the kids play with only when they are stick. At his last birthday I stored a couple away just for that occasion on your advice. It's spooky that stores are running out of flu meds, or worse some schools have shut down because the flu was hitting them too hard.. Anyway I hope everyone in your home is one hundred percent soon!

  6. Poor babies! It so completely sucks to have a fever. I hope you're almost through the battle and on to happier, healthier days.

    I wonder if I've ever seen you at the Urbana Walmart and didn't know it... lol

  7. Oh man. It is just the worst when the kiddos are sick. I feel so badly for them.
    Hope you have a healthy household very soon!

  8. we just went through that. i still have the cough, i think this is day 14 of that. I had the flu symptoms for one day, but the cough has hung on, and as you saw on my blog, the hives. My son had a fever for a full week, and the cough, but didn't appear too beaten down, surprisingly. He was driving me crazy by the end of the week, we needed to get out. hopefully everybody can be healthy for a while. at least we got it out of the way before the holidays...


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