Vacation with the Virus

The week before Christmas, the kids and I had all gotten the flu.  I had taken the advice of my well-meaning chiropractor and didn’t get the flu shot this year, then immediately caught it.  Bleh.  My only consolation was that it wouldn’t be me to get sick this year when the family all gathered together.  Oh, was I wrong.

flushotEvery time this group gets together for the holidays, sickness travels from one person to the next like fire in a drought.  This is no exaggeration.  We come from all parts of the country (and world) to share our own special, regional viruses.  Those little bugs get together and have a party of their own at the expense of their hosts and seem to produce one super bug.

Merry Christmas.  Exchange gifts.  Share the love.  Trade viruses.  Get sick.  Nothing like watching one kid begin to sniffle, another complains of a sore throat.  One vomits while tethered to the breast, as another breaks out in bright red hives.  We celebrate the season with daily trips to the pharmacy as we can’t seem to keep those fevers down and the mucus dry enough.

photoIn the middle of a bright, sunny, Arizona afternoon, one mommy takes a pass through a darkened living room, touching each forehead of the eight kids bundled up there – all vegging out watching movies – determining who’s ready for the next round of Tylenol.  Indeed, it is worse among the kids, but the parents do not go unscathed.  A dad disappeared, swallowed by a dark room, under cover, only to emerge when his flight home beckoned.  My father-in-law, the patriarch of this clan who has given up the comfort of his own bed, misses the gatherings as he lies sick on an air mattress stuffed in an office.  For the rest of us, sleepless nights for the kids usually meant sleepless nights for the parents.  We were all a bit groggy and the kids got to watch a lot of movies.

I arrived here feeling rather smug, believing that my kids and I would be immune.  I had suffered already, this trip was one to be enjoyed.  No, just a couple of days with her cousins, my daughter caught the bug.  What?  She’d been sick only two weeks ago.  Then the boy.  Then me.  Did we just catch another strain of the flu?  How unfair!

The one family that got their flu shots remained well.  They burst into the darkened home full of vibrant energy.  Come on, let’s go biking, hiking, playing, shopping, etc, etc.  No thanks.  We’re sick.

We extended our trip.  Why go home to freezing Chicago when we could convalesce in sunny Arizona?  The kids get better first, so it is a treat to have Grandma and Grandpa ready to amuse them.  Grandma fills me with home remedies, healthy food, and care while I just want to close my eyes and rest.  Isn’t it true, when you are sick, you just want to have a mom around?

Raw schmaw.  Juicing schmooshing.  With all my focus on healthy diet, exercise, and natural living, I definitely plan to get the flu shot next year.

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