Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Swine Flu and You (or Me in this case)

So far, we've managed to escape all things flu-ish in these parts. Knock on wood, throw a pinch of salt over our shoulders, PA-TOOUEY, spin in a circle three times while clapping our hands on one foot and run through the full moon.

The flu, on Influenza-like illness (ILI - as it's now being called since they are no longer really testing for the flu) has been waiting outside our door for the last few weeks. October 26th, we got our first (since the beginning of school) memo home, stating that there is cases of ILI in our school. That the absenteeism is up. In a small school of 215 (preK3-8th grade) that could mean that only a hand full of kids were out. In my girl's three classes, they reported that a total of 8 kids were home sick that day. Instead of panicking and flooding FaceBook with "OMG there's SWINE FLU in my kids school, I'm keeping them home FOREVER", I just talked to my kids. Made them understand that they need to wash their hands. All. The.Time. Before and after using the bathroom, before eating, after sneezing or coughing, before they touch their faces. Seems like simple things we should all be doing on a daily basis, but lets face it, we don't. And I have a fingernail biter who also has eczema and spends a great deal of time touching her face or with her hands in her mouth. I also brought all my kids bottles of hand sanitizer to keep in their bags. Two days later, we got a memo home "To the parents of Kindergartners, please do not send alcohol based hand sanitizers to school with your kindergartners. The teachers will make sure they wash their hands and sanitize them properly". My kid swears she wasn't misusing hers... Each kid also has a bottle near their booster seat and no to do one squirt when they get in the car after school, after soccer, after whatever. You know, just in case.

I'm not calling for school to close. I know it's there and we are aware. In fact, we got a third memo home showing how the school is also working their way at combating the spread of illness (other then the obvious of keeping your sick kids home). "Please be advised that your children need to bring their own water bottles to school. Teachers will no longer be allowing them to use the bubbler's during school". No biggie, my kids (as have most) have been bringing their own water to school since day 1.

On the subject of vaccination, we have chosen not to vaccinate our children or ourselves for either the seasonal or the H1N1 flu. We know the risks associated with the shots and the risks of what could happen without the shots. We know, inevitably, we will face the flu. And with five of us, it could get ugly. We know we're bound to get sick.

To say we're not worried is an understatement. It scares the be-jeasus out of me that something could happen. It scares me to think that we may or may not have made the right choice. Our oldest is old enough to know what's going on. She knows who and who hasn't been vaccinated. And we've talked. She knows she's not getting vaccinated and she's okay with that.

Whether we choose on our own to vaccinate or not, in reality, it's a moot point. Because, there aren't enough vaccines to go around. And if you can find that one shot now, the is no guarantee you can find the follow up shot (since we've never vaccinated for the flu before) in a month) Our children are healthy. And over the age of 4. We have no babies in the house and nor am I pregnant. I am the only asthmatic in the house, yet I suffer far fewer respiratory illnesses then my husband. I was diagnosed when I was a little older the Einey, so hopefully we won't find out the hard way that they follow in my footsteps.

Another great blogger wrote this piece the other day. And I can't stop thinking about it as I sit here and write. In this case, it's so true. With blogger's being the new "media" it's hard to separate fact from fiction. If you took every email, every post, every Tweet at face value, your head would spin. But people do and people are, and it's feeding our panic filled hearts.

Here are some things I've read in recent weeks:

  • Putting an onion in your room while you sleep will pull the toxins from the air and clear your lungs.
  • Take extra vitamin D.
  • The Swine Flu virus lives on surfaces for only 2 hours, therefore schools don't need to be cleaned thoroughly every night.
  • You should use a neti-pot to clean your nasal cavity each night and you won't get sick.
  • Gargling with salt water 3x a day will prevent you from getting sick.
  • The Swine Flu virus lives on surfaces for up to 48 hours.
  • Drinking hot liquids will keep you from getting sick. It's the reason more kids are getting sick then adult because kids don't tend to drink hot liquids on a daily basis. Apparently the virus cannot proliferate in a warm environment.
  • Kids are dying from the flu.
  • Kids are dying or becoming paralyzed from the flu shot.
  • Doctor's are being penalized if they give a school aged child the flu shot because the schools are doing mass vaccinations (a child who goes to school in on state whose schools are not mass vaccinating, but whose pediatrician is in a neighboring state and refused to vaccinate said child).
  • The flu is a giant government conspiracy. That Obama has his pharmaceutical croonies just like Bush had his oil croonies.
  • The FDA violate it's own rules by not documenting it's testing and giving ample time to prove the vaccine is safe.
  • Some doctor's are stating that just one shot - the H1N1 will protect against both the seasonal and swine flu so you only need one shot.

Obviously some of it may help. Some of it may be true. But others are just so out there. It's easy to see how mass hysteria starts. How people are given false information and believe it's truth. There are so many, many theories and thoughts and facts and fiction, it's hard to sort them out. It's part of why I don't know if we're doing the right thing.

No matter what your thoughts are, take the time, do some research. Look further then the front page for your information. Research your local Health Department and the CDC's websites. Read the New England Journal of Medicine. Stay up-to-date on how the flu is spreading through your community. be proactive rather then reactive. Take precautions. Wash your hands. Cover your cough. Talk to your doctor.

Here's to hoping we all stay as healthy as we can!


Clink said...

Do you know how to tell if you have the Bird flu or the Swine flu?
For the Bird flu you need a Tweetment...for the Swine flu an Oinkment.
Words to live...or panic by.

Catherine said...

I hope you stay healthy! My whole family (toddler and infant included) are on week three of trying to mend - its the sickest I've ever been, but we're going to beat it!

Lisa said...

It is in the schools here as well. We have started vitamin D and C supplements as well as elderberry extract. I mix a teaspoon of elderberry in with 2-3 ounces of 7-Up and my kids think it is a great treat. We are trying as hard as we can to just not catch the flu!

My eight year-old daughter did get the vaccine last week. She was hospitalized with asthma and pneumonia two weeks before (not flu).
I felt that the flu risk was too high for her. Her siblings have not been vaccinated and I haven't decided yet. It doesn't matter at this point since there is no more vaccine for now.

Whirlwind said...

Catherine - I hope you guys recover soon.

Lisa - that really stinks, hopefully you have a healthier winter.

It's still going through their school - my first grader had 7 kids home sick today and the others reported either kids out or kids leaving earlier.