I was going to write a piece about the hidden benefits of the hysteria around H1N1:
- that people are freaked enough to do the right thing, which is stay home
- that people are calling their doctors or health hotlines as soon as they notice symptoms to get advice
- that people are doing research about flu shots and H1N1 shots and making educated decisions for themselves
- that people are paying attention to health alerts
- that companies – like the one I work for – are distributing health alerts, scheduling flu shot clinics, encouraging good handwashing practices and handing out antiseptic handwash and making it easily available in common areas
- that companies are telling workers to stay home if they are sick
- that companies are hiring hazmat teams disinfect the offices of people who are sick with H1N1, making them feel like they have ebola, not the flu.
Okay, maybe not the last one. But true story.
I was thinking that there is an upside to the H1N1 hysteria: that our employers are being proactive and making sure that people know it is better to stay home. That, somehow, companies were taking the health of workers seriously. That people know they have ‘permission’ to do the right thing. (I wish that non-salaried workers were getting paid to take time off because otherwise, even if they want to stay home, they often can’t because they need to pay the bills. I don’t know how to fix this problem.)
That we are taking our health seriously.
So, yay, H1N1 hysteria!
But then I was up all night, sandwiched in my bed between two snoring, hacking, wheezing, whining, feverish agents of infection.
This is what you’re supposed to do when someone in your family has H1N1:
- Keep your child away from others to stop the spread of infection.
- At home, keep your child away from other people in the house.
- DO NOT share eating utensils, drinking glasses, washcloths, towels, beds, pillows, etc. until everyone in the household has been free of symptoms for five days
This is what I did:
Brought both of my sobbing, hysterical, coughing, infected children into bed with me and held a sweaty baby in each arm all night.
As I laid awake between my two fire/virus-breathing baby dragons, imagining every wheeze and cough spraying infection into the air and into me – I had some great imaginary symptoms by 4 am – I connected with the ancestors.
This is a parent’s dilemma throughout the ages. The plague. Measles. Various contagious fevers. Deciding how to handle viruses and infections and diseases that are highly contagious through contact and, back in the day and still in lots of parts of this world today, have a very strong chance of killing you and your entire family.
What do you do? Do you stay away, or do you hold your suffering, contagious baby?
I held my feverish, infectious babies.
And thanked the gods and goddesses of all religions and all places that it is only the flu.