7 days of swine flu
As swine flu continues to spread like wild boar, Rose Cohen shares her seven days in quarantine.
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A mom's experience of swine flu from last winter:

On the first day of suspected swine flu my son Sam said to me: ‘Mom what’s swine flu? My PE teacher has it.’ I shrugged and said, ‘Don’t worry it’s just a kind of bad flu doing the rounds.’

Later we went out for lunch, but when Sam’s food arrived he said he wasn’t hungry. He then propped his head on a pillow and went to sleep. By the time the dessert came his cheeks were the colour of my frozen red berries with white chocolate sauce.

I raised my eyebrows, gave my husband a concerned death stare and sighed. He returned a soft look of love and a ‘don’t-be-ridiculous-it’s-not-what-you-think-it-is’ wink.

Regardless, I was worried and when I worry, I cook. Sam had a high fever that night, so I snuck out from under the covers (and my husband’s reassuring arm) to start a swine flu soup kitchen. The chop, chop, choppity chop of the vegetable knife was satisfyingly soothing as I simmered up a pot of nature’s miracle healers.

On the second day of suspected swine flu my son Sam said to me: ‘I can’t move my head. It hurts too much.’ My daughter Angie said nothing, but coughed and stretched out her arms for a hug. I cancelled school, dosed them with meds and sat down at my computer, only to be accosted by the news: Calls for calm after H1N1 death.

I did what any rational mother would do. I did not call for calm, I called the paediatrician.

My potential carrier monkeys were thoughtfully poked and prodded and I could’ve sworn I heard the instruction for them to stick out their tongues and say ‘oink’.
The verdict: severe flu which must be tested for the H1N1 virus (A and B). The doc whipped out a long white stick and proceeded to take a nose swab.
‘It’s just an ear bud,’ she said with a smile to bolster Sam.
‘Well if it’s an ear bud then why are you sticking it up my nose,’ he quipped, clearly not too sick to be a smarty-pants.

We left the paediatrician with a script for Tamiflu (oseltamivir), an antiviral effective against most strains of flu. Apparently Mexicans, in a wave of precautionary mass hysteria, have been knocking back their share of the wonder drug. So when in Mexico...

Back home I performed my apothecary duties with care. Mix one capsule of Tamiflu with two teaspoons of water, three teaspoons of honey and serve. Other than that, there was little I could do, but hold their hot heads to my anxious heart and wait.

On the third day of suspected swine flu my son Sam said to me ‘I’m thirsty, please make me some lemonade.’ Grateful for another chance to calm myself in the kitchen, I hauled out the juicer and stirred up litres of lemony love potion.

On the fourth day of suspected swine flu I totally lost my cool. Days of swanning about like the ghost of nurses past had left me ragged. The thermometer never left my hand, bottomless cups of tea were served on a tray and whenever the phone rang I was tempted to say, ‘Hello and Welcome to the Hospital California.’

On the fifth day of suspected swine flu I woke up with a headache. Not a word had we heard from the lab and my anxiety turned to annoyance. So I baked a batch of chocolate muffins and stomped around the house yelling, ‘This place is a pig sty!’ with a mean smirk.

On the sixth and seventh days of suspected swine flu, the tests came back negative so we packed our H1N1 woes into a big suitcase and headed along the Route 62 for a long weekend away.

Next week will be much better. Surely.

What is your house like when someone’s sick? Are you a good nurse?
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