Flu Season Hits Home

Okay, so some of you already know our family was hit with a flu virus last week, right? Well, let me tell you a few details I may not have mentioned over Facebook.
When we got to the ER after midnight, it was standing room only. What immediately struck me, was that everyone there looked like they were sick with the exact same thing. No accident victims, no broken arms or blood anywhere. Literally every person we saw looked like they were all suffering with the same thing we went in for; Flu, fever, coughing, sore throat, stomach upset.. you get the idea. We were told we could not leave that room, no going down the hall into the open area of the hospital unless we had to go to the pharmacy or the cafe and then come right back. We were quarantined off like they were trying to keep us in to protect the rest of the building. Then I realized… that’s exactly what they were doing. Suddenly feeling like I was in a horror movie, we searched for a place to sit down knowing nowhere was going to be safe from air-borne germs.
It was an hour wait to be seen by the triage nurse, but that portion of the visit took over 3 hours becuase they kept sending us back out then back in and back out again because they had to get through more people.
After the 3 hour mark, I had a sick baby, miserable, begging me through tears to take her home, squirming in a tiny seat with sick people on all sides.
There was no way on earth we were going to make it long enough in that building to see a doctor unless it was in the next 20 minutes. So, I asked the intake nurse how long she thought it would be… she said there were still over 20 people ahead of us. It could be several more hours.
I asked her if anything about her visit with the triage nurse indicated there might be a major problem like pneumonia or something more serious, she checked it over and said no… so I asked her if we could just leave and call her doctor in the morning. She was all for that idea, since at that point (After 3:30am) the urgent care office would be open and taking patients by the time we’d be seen by the ER doctor. So, we left with the promise that I’d call her primary care in the morning to book a follow up in the clinic.
Fast forward to the next morning – I called the clinic and, like always, was placed on hold. I was told by the automated receptionist that my hold time would be over 2 hours, so I requested a call back. They called me at 11:30, over 3 hours after I’d called them and put my name into the cue.
Once I got the call back from the scheduling team, with no in-house appointments available for that day and the instruction to go to Urgent Care, I decided to take a phone appointment instead. The phone appointment confirmed that we were likely okay to keep her home and out of the over-crowded office, as long as she didn’t get worse. Luckily, my daughter’s symptoms had all but vanished by the next morning and we didn’t need the follow up in the office.
A few hours after I’d spoken to the doctor, a friend whose sister works in a Kaiser clinic texted me that they’ve released a statement at her work saying the Inland Empire is overrun with flu patients. The ER’s and urgent cares are packed, time off requests will be denied, don’t get sick, take precautions, stay home. Not only that, but clinics that close at 5 will likely be open after hours to try and take some weight off the load for the ER/Urgent Care systems.
At this point, I know the parents of 3 different children my daughter’s age (five) who have been hospitalized with flu and pneumonia symptoms. All across my friend’s list, I’m seeing people suffering with one thing or the other, hardly even a single person who doesn’t have at least one family member sick or recently recovered from a virus that included a fever over 101 and a barrage of other symptoms anywhere from vomiting to sneezing and sore throats or all three.
My point is – this is obviously more than your average flu season. They’ve been warning us for months with articles about how this may end up being one of the worst flu seasons in history. Guys, don’t ignore that warning. This is not a drill. This is not “doctors egging people on to take drugs or get shots”. They’ve full on admitted that the flu shot is only going to be 5% effective this year and that the flu shot is not going to be a good enough protection to rely upon it as your only safeguard.
Please, PLEASE pay attention to how you feel and err on the side of caution. If you feel sick, stay home. If your kids feel sick, keep them home. Please don’t hit the local parks and let your sick kid whose fever is only gone because you medicated them play on all the equipment with unsuspecting families. Please don’t try to tough it out and show up to work with a fever above 100 while you contaminate everyone around you in a recycled-air office. Don’t spread your illnesses around theme parks and Target because you HAVE to do the thing you promised you’d do.
Take the hit. Stay home. Keep the kids home. Deal with the disappointment and suffer through having to miss out and help protect your community.
At this point, all we can do is be responsible and do our best to minimize exposure. It’s up to us to protect ourselves and our families.
Even if you think “it’s just a cold”, don’t bet on it. I did the same thing and allowed my daughter to sit in a house full of people for 6 hours before realizing it wasn’t “just a cold” and I feel awful about it.
Don’t fool around with this. There are too many immunocompromised people out there who NEED the rest of us to be responsible.
Here’s some things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community:
Hand sanitizer is helpful. It’s not a failsafe system and shouldn’t be your only weapon, but it helps. Never leave home without it. Buy the tiny bottles for the kid’s backpacks and your teen’s purses. It’s important.
Pass on greetings that involve touching. Resist the urge to hug your friends or allow your children to hug theirs. I always stress “never force a child to hug someone” but this rule especially applies right now – if grandma wants a hug, tell her you love her enough to keep her sickness free. Blown kisses and fist-bumps are great substitutes.
Wash hands. Yes, this is a given but seriously, do it.  Often, with soap, in as hot of water as you can handle for the full 30 seconds you’re supposed to, longer if your soap is that fru-fru zero germ killing, lotion-filled kind.
DO pass on the junk food. Foods that have high-sugars, too many carbs and no natural vitamin content are all things to be avoided, as they contribute to a lowering of your immune system. Foods like “comfort food” full of cheese, potatoes and noodles might make you feel better in the moment, but in the long term – it can be the very thing that makes you sick. Stay away from the comfort food if you actually want to be comfortable!
DON’T pass on the good food. Foods like lean proteins, high fiber, raw greens and veggies and natural fruits are excellent sources of immunity-building tools. Load up your diet with as much of the good stuff as you can. This will help boost your immune system AND your overall health. That way, if you do get sick – your body will be stronger and able to fight it more efficiently.
Don’t Touch! I mean it! Don’t touch. Anything. Hand rails, walls, door frames, handles or doorknobs and if you absolutely MUST do so, don’t do it without immediately sanitizing after. If you can keep one of those germ killing tissues in your pocket to be your barrier between a door handle and your skin, even better – but still sanitize after.
Shop Online. Most stores offer online versions of their products these days and if you have an Amazon Prime account, even groceries and random household items can be purchased and shipped easily and quickly. Many communities now have the service called Instacart. It’s groceries on delivery from your local store. Yes, there is sometimes a delivery fee or shipping fee and that’s a bummer, but I’ll bet those fees are cheaper than your Primary Care Co-Pay. It’s worth it.
Keep your hands off your face. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Yes, even if you sanitize and even if you’ve taken other precautions, this is one step more to keep the viruses from entering your body. I know it’s involuntary most of the time, but do your best. Also, we often tell our children not to touch their mouths after playing in the playground, but we carelessly wipe away tears and touch our children’s faces without thinking. We are not immune to the rule – not only should we not touch our OWN faces, but we shouldn’t touch anyone else’s either. Not without sanitizing first, and only if you don’t have a tissue or something instead.
Teach the kids the rules. Teach your children to sneeze into tissues or their elbow. Teach them not to touch people unnecessarily. Teach them to keep their hands away from their faces and for the love of all that is holy – STOP TOUCHING THE WALLS AND HANDRAILS IN EVERY SINGLE STORE WE GO INTO!! (why do they do that???) Teach them to recognize the signs of sickness and if they see it in themselves or their friends, teach them the value of backing away, keeping a distance and respecting others.
Essential Oils. Many essential oils have been proven scientifically (like, legit science, not conspiracy science) to support the immune system, as well as the body to fight sickness once you have it. Use only therapeutic grade oils from a company who offers complete transparency with its process, ingredients, sourcing and potency and this can become a vital tool in your arsenal when battling the season of sickness. Here are the ones I keep handy for these purposes: Oregano, Melaleuca, Eucalyptus, On Guard (a DoTERRA proprietary blend), Frankincense, Helichrysum, Peppermint and Lemon and…. that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. These are the real deal, but do your research. Find someone who works with oils and knows how to blend. Have them teach you how and where to buy them safely. If you don’t know anyone, contact me and I’ll help you.
And finally, I know I already said this, but…
STAY HOME. Seriously. From work, from school, from the grocery store, public transit, from wherever isn’t absolutely necessary. Don’t take your “kinda sniffly” or “just getting over a cold” children to the park or church, or nursery or playdates. Don’t load them up on meds so you can take that trip to Disneyland or market night. Don’t go to the party. Don’t go to the restaurant. Pass on the movie in the theater. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s hard. No, of course you don’t want to miss bible study or play date mom time or miss date night, but if going means you might get everyone within 10 feet of you sick, it’s your responsibility to stay home. Now, I know this one seems a little bitey and maybe even a little judgmental, but I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve seen it for years in all areas of life and it’s SO frustrating. There is no metal for pushing through a sickness at work or forcing your child with a fever to attend school. Okay, so yeah, there’s that “perfect attendance” thing, but if you have to accomplish that by exposing 30+ other children to the virus your child has, is it really worth it? Do we want to teach our children that it’s okay to put our needs above others in this way? I’m not kidding when I say most of the sicknesses I have seen this year are a direct result of someone saying “oh, they’re not THAT sick…” and going about their lives as normal instead of listening to their bodies or child’s symptoms and keeping themselves out of the general population.
I’m not writing this because I’m trying to point fingers or make mamas feel bad. I know sometimes you have no choice. I respect that, I experience it, too. Sometimes you have to go and you can’t help it. What I’m saying is, when you can, avoid leaving. When possible, stay home. When it’s not possible, take every precaution I’ve written above and all the others I didn’t to keep you and yours and the rest of our’s healthy. They’re saying this could very well be the worst flu season in history. Other countries are already calling it that and have been since before Halloween. It’s time to gear up, buck up, suck it up and do what needs to be done. I learned the hard way and I’m hoping this post may help someone else from having to do the same.
I wish a glorious, virus-free new year to each and every one of you!!
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