Spring Break was supposed to be a week full of fun activities with the kids. My parents were visiting from Toronto, the kids were off from school and I had taken several days off myself. We did lots of fun things – but on the Friday of Spring Break week, our littlest little started complaining that her throat was hurting. Then she woke up at 7am on Saturday morning screaming bloody murder.
She had a super high fever and her throat was hurting. Ithought she had Strep Throat – which surprisingly isn’t super contagious.
Unfortunately, I was wrong – she had Influenza. Contagious Influenza. The worst part is that you’re contagious even before you feel sick.
Me and our oldest little came down with it the next day.
So on a scale ranging from happy dreams to worst nightmare, I was literally living out my next-to-worst nightmare. My worst nightmare is to die in a house fire – but I have an exit strategy to avoid that.
Even before we knew that it was the flu, we had begun with ourfamily’s Infection Prevention strategy.
- We ALL got the flu shot in September. You might be thinking – HA! Joke’s on her. She and the kids go the flu. First of all, that’s mean. Secondly, yes – me and the children endured the annoyance of getting a flu vaccine and still got the flu. But you know what? We were sick for a week each. Guess what? The flu is a two-week long illness. And sometimes – it’s a permanent illness (ie. You die from it.) Receiving our annual dose of the flu vaccine shortened our course of illness. AND – my darling (who also got the vaccine) DIDN’T get sick, and he’s the one we’re most concerned about anyway. Also – I’m literally sitting here “recovering” from my flu vaccine.
- Hyper-hand washing. We’re pretty thorough when it comes to hand hygiene, but an illness in our house means we’re even more diligent. Did you blow your nose? Wash your hands. Did you touch your mouth while eating or drinking something? Wash your hands. Did you cover your mouth when you yawned/coughed/sneezed? Wash your hands. Did you know that it should take you 20 seconds to wash your hands? TWENTY SECONDS. Sing the alphabet song, that’s how long 20 seconds are –it isn’t a short song. We always try to use soaps that are antibacterial, and the Dial Gold Bar soap is definitely at the top of our list.
- Face mask protection for the “still well” group. The flu is a viral respiratory illness – and two of the three of those who were ill were children. It would have been difficult to a) breathe, and b) keep a face mask on a child. So – everyone else wore Anti-Viral Masks if they were in the common areas of the house.
- Anti-Viral Tissues. They are a must for families enduring the flu. The tissues kill the flu virus (and others) helping those tasked with cleaning up the boxes-worth of tissues that are scattered throughout the house.
- Separate beds. While the idea of sleeping separately from my darling is nearly foreign to me, I couldn’t risk contaminating our bed, and the air around him, while we slept. But I couldn’t be too far in case he did need assistance – and I was thankful to have a comfortable couch in the living area right off our master bedroom.
- Strict no hugging and no kissing rule. We are an affectionate family – and our children love to be held, cuddled, hugged, and kissed. While ill, and until we were sure that there was no risk of contagiousness, a strict rule kept the children away from our precious “baba” (Arabic for “daddy.”) It meant that the kids were perched on top of me – one on my right arm, and one on my left arm – for seven days. It was just as well – their hugs, cuddles, and kisses were just what I needed to get through the flu myself.
While I can’t say for certain that my husband avoided the flu this year because of these reasons – I know for certain that our prevention strategy helped. And that’s all anyone can do anyway.