Thursday, October 29, 2009

H1N1 - A Survival Guide

H1N1 - A Survival Guide

A first-hand, from-the-trenches guide to getting through this year's 'flu without losing what's left of your mind.


They aren’t kidding when "they" say that your child will likely have a high fever for at least five days. My eldest’s has swung wildly for almost an entire week now: 100.1 to 104.2 and all points in between.

To survive:

Buy three bottles of your regular brand of pain/fever medicine, plus the brands that all your Mummy friends have recommended via Facebook. Place them in strategic rooms in the house, so that you don't have to go searching/rummaging/up the stairs, as needed.

Be liberal with measurements -eschewing the stupid fiddly meds injection thing for an over-sized, blue plastic spoon. Make train/motorcycle/car noises at the appropriate times to gently encourage youngest child (who until this sickness, thought medicine WAS candy) to open his mouth.

When he stubbornly refuses, tackle him, pin him down and hold his nose until he does.

Repeat the phrase: This is for your OWN good, son.

Wish for Bailey's.


Don't kid yourself - this cough is a sneaky, brain-exploding Hell of a cough. All the literature suggests a dry cough over a "junky" one, but frankly, that's all crap.

This cough is the wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-vomit-up-your-lung sort of cough.

This cough makes you count the seconds (feels like minutes) between the wracking of your child's small frame and their next breath while holding yours, frantically searching your brain for some sliver of CPR training, circa 1991.

To survive:

Fumble for one of four bottles of cough syrup you've purchased especially for this 'flu and pour it into a green over-sized plastic spoon. (Feel some sort of smug-good-Mummy-ness at having colour-coded your med-shovelling devices. Then realize that in the dark of night, blue and green look the same and that you've likely been overdosing and mixing meds all week long. Have vague, fuzzy recollection of reading articles that vilify the use of cough meds in small children. Shrug. Pour liberally.)

Sit on oldest child who thinks that mimicking his brother is FUNNY and won't open his mouth. Pry open his mouth with a teensy bit more force than necessary, while growling, "See? It's bubble-gum flavoured. You like bubble gum and anyways, this is for your OWN good, son!"

Wish for Bailey's.


When they say headache, they mean "it will feel as though your brain cannot possibly be contained within the confines of your skull. As though it's trying to escape through any orifice, including but not limited to your nose, forehead and eyeballs."

To survive:

Medicate accordingly. When your youngest child tries to jam YOUR finger up his nose and into his eye sockets to alleviate the pressure, let him try. At 2 a.m. having rushed in FOUR times to witness him clutching his head and crying, a finger lodged up the nasal cavity might be the best of what's around.

Wish for Bailey's.

Body Aches and Chills:

A given really, as zillion degree fevers tend to make most of us a bit achy.

However, as a parent you may not be able to differentiate between fever ache and the kind that comes from crouching over your child's bed for hours in the night or falling asleep with your back against the windowsill at an angle which was comfortable at 11 but now at 4, isn't.

Ditto chills from sleeping on the bare floor of their room, using the dirty clothes basket as a pillow.

To survive:

Wish for Bailey's.

Staying Home (or: Domestic Torture 101)

All news reports/articles/Health Unit bulletins and health care providers are recommending that you stay home for the duration of your illness, until at least 24 hours AFTER the fever has abated naturally.

To this I say: Are you 'effing kidding me?

I have somehow managed to stay at home with my feverish/hacking/pale-faced children for days now. In fact, I have been so dutiful about not leaving our piggy 'flu pigsty, that the mail-lady knocked on the door yesterday to make sure everyone was OK as the mail's been piling up alarmingly. (Note to self: Mail lady gets Tim Horton's gift card for Christmas)

Today? Not a friggin' chance. We're out of bread, milk, orange juice and toilet paper. I have already gone through my craft supplies for the rest of the YEAR and if I have to watch "Cars" one more time, I will hurl myself out the window.

The boys are - when properly medicated - running amok and fed up with Lego and puzzles and the "let's-help-Mummy-fold-the-laundry-game." Yes, I could call friends and have them pick up much-needed supplies.

Or, I could wait until the children have settled in for the night (and my husband's home to ignore – ahem, excuse me -"not hear!" the fruit of his loins hack up their own lungs via the monitor) but... I'm not doing it.

To survive:

Shower, dress, sanitize and Lysol your littles. And then march out the door because you can.

Because the children need fresh air and to know that yes, there is a world outside of the boob tube.

Because you need to remember that there is life and movement and HOPE outside of your own germ-infested house. Because you've grown tired of tossed whatever's-in-the-crisper and pasta for supper.

Buy cookies and Fruit Loops when your kids ask because they've barely eaten all week and frankly, you're feeling a little bit guilty about the whole "sit-on-the-child" thing.

Buy Bailey's. quick. Be stealthy.

Do NOT make eye contact with anyone, lest they judge and reveal your sickness to others.

Don't let them see your cart piled high with sixteen bottles of sanitizer and three containers of Lysol wipes you SWORE you'd never waste your money on.

Sing loudly should any of your children start coughing.

Race your infected selves home as quickly as you can. Break out the cereal bowls and crack open the Bailey's. Who cares if it's not yet noon, because today is about celebration: So far?

You're surviving.

Bottoms up!


  1. Seriously Belly you NEED to be writing for a newspaper or magazine. Sorry you guys have had such a rough go with it and hope you are all on the mend for good. Hey you survived H1N1 (sounds like a t-shirt) and don't have to stress about the damn shot anymore...that's where I am at still!! :( xo

  2. I'm totally sorry that you're had the flu come knocking on your door, but sister, you are one incredible writer... incredible...