I never knew I touched my face so much.
After reading story after story about the dangers of contracting H1N1, hearing stories from parents who have lived to tell about their children’s experiences with the dreaded “swine flu,” and surviving a bout in our house of what turned out to be a nasty cold virus, I have found myself grasping at others’ ideas for how to keep our household flu-free.
The first tip I read is incredibly self-evident — stop touching your face — but it’s hard! Now that I’m aware of it, I am amazed at the number of times I needlessly touch my face.
Here are some other tips from my friends:
* One friend whose 10-year-old son contracted what their pediatrician assumes to be H1N1 did everything possible to keep the flu isolated to him. With children’s doses of Tamiflu unavailable locally, she went to great lengths to get an adult formula compounded into something appropriate for him, for the low cost (after insurance) of $99. She bought face masks for him to wear whenever he wasn’t eating or sleeping (I don’t know HOW she got him to wear them — maybe that’s a sign of just how sick he was). She wiped every surface many times a day, and isolated him to his bedroom. After four days, he went back to school. Three days later, his little sister got it anyway. (She thinks from a soccer teammate.)
* Another friend has found some solace in her alcohol wipes. Everything has been cleaned many times a day, from the TV controller, the computer keyboard, to the DS game systems, to the light switches and door knobs. I should have bought stock in whatever cleanser she’s using. They, too, have had a few rounds of illness regardless.
* A friend of my daughter’s is scheduled to celebrate her birthday with a big Halloween costume party for the entire 8th grade class at her home. Naturally, she came down with the fever and cold symptoms that seem to have decimated our school over the last week or so. She’s been fever-free for 48 hours, so the party is still on. However, her mother, the wife of a family physician, has taken great pains to limit the germ-fest: She spent many hours creating small baggies of each treat so none of the 38 classmates has to reach into a bowl of snacks with someone who might be harboring something scary. As my husband noted, however, it remains to be seen what she can do about the “spit-swapping” (as he so delicately put it) that could happen out in the driveway. (Ugh. Leave it to a boy.)
I admit, I am not usually the most careful parent when it comes to germ warfare. I mean, they’ve got to develop resistance somehow, right? Seriously, you can make yourself crazy trying to dodge the dirt, and we have to let the kids have a little fun.
That said, I told my father this week to avoid the McDonald’s Play Place for awhile. No sense being reckless.
I also took the extra steps to thoroughly wipe down the shopping cart at the entrance to Giant Eagle twice this week. I get the sense that others are doing that more too — the usual container was empty, and replaced with a couple of containers of Clorox Bleach wipes. I used three.
I have limited play dates, and discouraged sleepovers. I have Purell-ed up at cash registers, which increasingly have “for customer use” bottles handy. In a very unusual move for me, I proactively took my children out of school to get them the flu mist H1N1 vaccine at the Medina County Fairgrounds, because who knows when the flu shot clinic will actually happen at their school, thanks to the diminished supply of vaccine. I even bypassed the communion cup at Mass on Sunday.
And with all of that said, I’m not sure how much good we’ve actually accomplished, except maybe a cleaner house. My children still got sick, and the pediatrician says they fell victim to a cold virus they probably would have gotten regardless of our H1N1 fears.
Our friend the family physician says he’s only seen about three cases of H1N1 — he thinks we mostly are suffering from this bad cold, not an H1N1 epidemic. And there really isn’t much you can do to remedy a cold. ”This is what I tell my patients,” he says. “If you don’t get the antibiotics, your cold will last about seven days. If you do get antibiotics, it’ll last about a week.”