What do you do when the flu hits home?

April 2, 2010 9:39:13 AM PDT
Last night, when I got home after the late newscast, I found my son asleep in my husband's arm. Luke's cheeks were flush and he was burning up, 100.2 degree fever. Oh no, that yearly-unwelcome visitor is back in our home: the flu.

In the past few weeks, Greg and I have been debating whether our children should get the swine flu vaccine: is it tested enough? What are the side effects, etc.

But now, it may be a moot point. I'm not sure if Luke has the swine flu or just the seasonal flu, but if it's anything like our past flu experiences, the next week or two will likely not be very pleasant.

I'm trying to forget last fall's encounter with the flu. How, just after I changed the sheets, Luke and Emma would puke all over the newly made beds. How Luke was so upset when he threw-up all over, and inside, his prized guitar (that wasn't fun to clean up!) And how I existed on chicken broth and saltines when the flu finally made it through the family to me.

With Luke in preschool, it seems nearly impossible to avoid picking up every virus and bug going around. My husband, Greg, who usually never got sick, went to his doctor last year after coming down with his fifth sickness in nearly as many weeks trying to see why his immune system seemingly shut down. "How old are your children?" the doctor asked. When Greg told her one and 2, she replied, "oh, get used to being sick. You have at least five more years of this!"

Our hand washings can't get much more frequent. We wash our hands, as do our children, before every meal or snack, after bathroom visits, after playtime outside, after blowing our noses, petting dogs, nearly doing anything! In addition, huge containers of hand sanitizers are in each of our cars, our garage, and our kitchen. My skin in cracking from all the abuse. But now that Luke is sick, it seems only a matter of time before we call catch his virus.

Today, in sunny, 70-plus degree weather, Luke wanted to stay inside, snuggled in my lap. I fed him popsicles and stroked his hair. While Greg and Emma played in the sunshine, Luke fell asleep in my arms. As a parent, it is heartbreaking to see your child sick. But, it is an opportunity to slow down, stop trying to teach and discipline your child, and just take care of them and tell them how much you love them.