It’s that time of the year again. Time for flu and/or flu shots. Once upon a time, I was pretty good about getting the annual flu vaccine. It sounded like a good thing, seemed to work, so why not? Then, I started getting sick from it. That “You might have a little bit of a reaction from it, a bit like a cold…” promise that I’d get from the health care officials … yea, right. I’d get sick, and year by year, I’d get hit worse. By ‘99, I was to the point of being more than just a little bit paranoid. I got the vaccine again despite my doubts, and immediately got ill. Flu-like symptoms that worsened into a pneumonia that almost put me in the hospital. I stopped taking the vaccine after that, and magically.. no more flus!
Well, with kids, I started getting worried. We were in Cairo and Avian flu as well as regular influenza was a fact of life. The kids probably had their first flu shot in ‘07. I had one too, to be a good mom and set a good example. I (we) survived. Ok, so we got one in ‘08 too, also good. We arrived here in Amman in September ‘09, before the vaccine supply, but, unfortunately, after the virus.
We were already a month late in joining the school, Brian got a chest cold that kept him out for a few days. About a week later, when I was hoping he’d be healthy enough for us to go in and get the flu vaccine, he comes to me with a fever, congestion, cough, etc. All the gooey symptoms of seasonal flu. He was out for a week with that. Then it was Honor’s turn… same sudden onset, fever, goo, and another kid home from school for a week.
A few days after Honor gets back to school, which btw was starting to get hit pretty bad by H1N1, I get a call from the nurse’s office. That bounding playful happy boy-child I’d sent to school that morning was in her office, high fever, and turning blue with chills. Sigh. He had all the symptoms suggesting swine flu… aches, headache, HIGH fever, chills, exhaustion, etc. I brought him home and spent the next three days rotating motrin and tylenol every three hours, trying to keep his fever from going up over 102-103F… because it sure as hell wasn’t going down! I kept him hydrated, and slept on the floor by his bed so I could check him hourly (that fever was BAD). I had called the clinic, explained what was going on, and we talked of danger signs to look for and when to go to the ER. They didn’t want me to bring him in because it would exhaust him and expose others. I definitely didn’t want to take him to the hospital, that where the sick people are. I knew I’d keep a better eye on him anyway. Besides, what were they going to tell me to do? Keep the fever down, hydrate, watch his breathing? Bring him in if he doesn’t improve? Check. Check. Check. Check. Anyway, he was down for about a week and guess what?!
Yep… then it was Honor’s turn. I sent the different kid off to school in the morning, and moved my pallet of couch cushions to Honor’s bedroom floor. She had the same chills, aches, and high fever that refused to go down below 102… for three days. Fortunately, after the first 24 hours of pure misery, both kids felt much better - in comparison to those first 24 hours! – but the next few days were still very sad. Honor was out for a whole week too.
Was it my turn to get sick next? No. I waited. I waited until everyone else had already had it. I waited until all the “Oh no! You have the flu you poor, poor dear”-type sympathy was used up and people were sick and tired of being sympathetic to the sick and tired. I waited until Brad was hospitalized with DVT. I waited through his treatment and until he was ready to come home. The morning he was to be discharged, I woke feeling awful, but I managed to get the kids up and off to school. Then I lay down on the cold marble floor… which felt so very, very good… and I realized that I was terribly sick, needed caring for, and there was no way I was driving to the hospital to pick up my husband! He had to call someone else for a ride home. He tries (still) to give me a hard time, teasing me that I abandoned him in his hour of need … I counter that he was lucky I could get off the floor and unlock the door for him or he’d have been left out on the curb being needy. He even had to go out that afternoon and get the kids from the bus, as well as order dinner delivery. I continued to hug the floor for the remainder of that day/night … cool, cold marble does wonders to keep your temperature down… and I was sick for about a week as well.
Anyway, this year, we are taking no chances. All four of us went in this morning and got our vaccines. Brad and Brian were jabbed first, then I held Honor in my lap for hers… she wasn’t happy about getting it, at all, but she and the nurse calmly counted together and Honor barely flinched. Not a single tear was wasted. When it was my turn, I asked her if she would hold my hand and make sure I would be ok. We all joked about how moms have to take care of everyone, but who takes care of mom? Well, Honor held my hand, and Brian assisted the nurse with my other arm… he held my sleeve out of the way and held the gauze after the injection, etc. While I was getting my shot, Honor whispered to me, “Pretend to cry”, so on cue, I made a sad face, pouted, and sniffed a little. It made her laugh – my goal accomplished – and when the nurse asked her who was more brave, her or me, without hesitation, Honor said she was!
Now, the only thing to worry about is whether or not my luck holds out with the vaccine and I do not get sick! The next few days will tell…