I didn’t think anything could suck more for a parent than when a kid falls ill. Until all my kids fell ill. And my husband too. And then I got thrown under the bug bus as well.
So here we are, four weeks into a never-ending mutating cycle of raging fevers, green phlegm, bronchial coughs, spit ups and diarrhoea.
I’ve lost count of the number of times we visited the docs. Between us we have enough meds to fit into a bread box. We also have had enough cranky, exhaustion-fuelled meltdowns and short fuses to warrant a Supernanny intervention.
Does there seem to be an end in sight? Let’s see, my helper just told me she thinks she might have a cold (NOOOO!) But the husband is starting to feel human again today (YES!) Julian’s diarrhoea seems to be tapering (YAY!) But Layla’s cough is still lingering, after two weeks and two visits to the doctor’s. And she’s had three runny diapers today (which means, AAAARGH…)
Being sick reduces us to a very vulnerable and sub-human state. Just a week ago, in my weakest state, all I wanted to do was curl up under my blanket in clean pyjamas, have my own mum rub Vicks on my back and drift off to a restorative 8-hour block of uninterrupted sleep. Instead, my husband and I had to avoid crumbling and keep it together. Because once you become a parent, life can’t stop just because your body wants to.
So what’s kept us from self-destructing?
Support from our village. Without the grandparents and helper, I think my kids and I would certainly be stewing in a primodial stinkpot of germs right now, without enough food in the fridge and three-day-old clothes still on our backs. I thank God that my in-laws and parents are always a phone call away. And I am ever thankful for my live-in helper who is around to wash my son off his 7th diarrhoea diaper as I struggle with the daughter’s and my own coughing fit.
What have I learnt from this episode?
Infection control! It took one very exasperating session with a doctor recently to remind us that with a child in nursery, a baby at home and two adults who work all day, we desperately need to maintain good hygiene and quarantine drills for minimising the spread of illnesses. That means washing hands after handling a sick child, his toys or her diaper. If you can’t avoid handling one child after the other, change out your clothes. No sharing food or cutlery. Separate bedrooms. Face masks.
I am learning the hard way that the inconvenience of prevention is nothing compared to the inconvenience of suffering a nasty bug invasion at home. Keep your germs to yourself. Better still, keep them at bay by strengthening your immune system. Your kids need you.