In the back of my mind
When I was in high school, one of my cousins, who was only about 3 or 4 years old at the time, got very sick. It started out just like a cold, but quickly became something very serious. It seemed to just rip through him like wildfire. I’m not even sure what it was that he had (I don’t think they ever found out exactly), or what the symptoms were. It was as if he came down with some kind of really basic childhood cold or virus – and his body’s immune system did absolutely nothing to combat it. You’re not even aware of all the ways in which our bodies fight off all the bad things it might come in contact with… until it doesn’t.
From the time he first got sick to the time he passed away, I think it was a total of maybe about 5 days. It was pretty devastating at the time, but now as a parent, it provides a whole new perspective on that event. It’s more than just a terrible event that happened in the past. It’s an event that I live in fear of everyday. It’s always in the back of my mind – but even more so when one of the kids get sick. And while, logically, I know there was a unique set of circumstances that accompanied that situation and that are unlikely to be repeated (ie. the issue that his immune system completely shutdown for no reason), fear doesn’t need logic to thrive.
This whole H1N1 scare isn’t helping. The information is confusing and conflicting, and I think it’s partially because there is some inconsistencies with the way it’s presenting itself in people. I mean, I had it a few months ago – and it was probably the most mild thing I ever had. I had a bad fever for a couple of days, chills, body aches. I locked myself away from everyone else so I wouldn’t spread it and it was done. But I know other people get it and are completely leveled by it. And I’m not clear on what it’s doing to kids. On some websites it sounds like it’s particularly serious for kids under age 5. In fact, that age group is the only group of kids that they’re willing to give the vaccine to locally (yet, anywhere I know of, they’re out of it already – even though they just came in a few days ago! AND our pediatrician isn’t even giving out that vaccine AT ALL)
Last night after Zachary went to bed, we checked on him an hour or so later and he was sweating. (Something very unusual) We checked him and sure enough he had a fever. Not too bad, but still, enough to get my fears going. This morning, he still has a fever. We’re giving him Motrin. I called the doctor and they were mostly unimpressed and directed me to listen their pre-recorded information about the flu. So we are just “waiting and seeing.” At least he appears to be “normal” – which is what the doctor has always told us is the bigger issue. If he’s lethargic – they don’t care if his fever is low or high – it’s a problem. But nothing seems to slow Zach down. (Thank God!) And last checked, his fever has come down.
I’ll be glad when this whole swing flu thing is over. But when you think about it, we’ve had a whole zoo of these illnesses. Monkey Virus, Bird Flu, now Swine Flu… what’s next? I know I can’t put my kids in a bubble to protect them. But I have to admit that sometimes it’s tempting.