It was three in the morning.
She came in with an upset stomach and a throat full of snot. When I put my hand to her head, I was nearly scalded. The thermometer read 104.5. I checked the other ear in disbelief. Same.
First plan of attack
I dosed out the Ibuprofen and handed her a cup of cold water. Take sips, but drink as much as you can. I found the stainless-steel bowl we use for upset stomachs and set it by her side. I placed a cool, wet rag on her forehead and covered her with a warm blanket. She was shivering.
The medicine kicked in and after thirty minutes, her temperature dropped a degree. I breathed a little easier. But I couldn’t sleep. I mentally kicked myself. She said she didn’t feel great earlier. Maybe I could have prevented this. I offered more water and switched out the wet rag. Another thirty minutes and her fever was lower yet. But I still couldn’t sleep. That temperature was scary high. What if it gets higher? Does my thermometer even read higher?
Reader, it does. It can read as high as 105.3.
Neither one of us slept.
The sun rose and she went from the bed to the couch. Before the clock said I could give her more medicine, her fever was 103 and climbing. We switched to Tylenol and headed to urgent care. By mid-afternoon, I learned just how high my thermometer could go. A call back from the doctor confirmed influenza.
Having a sick child is physically demanding, emotionally draining, and can be flat out nerve-wracking. I spent a lot of time offering fluids, changing out cool rags, checking her temperature, staring at the clock and calculating the next dose of medicine, and—most importantly—washing my hands. I didn’t rest much, but she did. At a 105, it feels like you’re cooking from the inside, while your body is in a constant state of shivers. It feels like you got run over by a truck, and it kindly backed up and did it again. It hurt my heart to see her in such misery. Not to mention, 105 is scary. People die from influenza. My worry was as high as her fever and my nerves were just as fried.
The tricky thing about influenza
A person is contagious for 24 hours before showing symptoms and for five to seven days after symptoms develop. We were proactive. She had the flu shot earlier in the year. We managed her fever. We took her to the doctor within 24 hours of symptoms and were able to start an anti-viral. We kept her home from school until she was completely recovered, including being fever-free without the aid of medications for 24 hours.
Lucky for us, our stint with influenza was fast and furious and my daughter recovered without incident.
Avoid close contact with sick individuals. Practice good hand hygiene by washing with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water is unavailable. Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth as germs spread this way. Cover coughs and sneezes. In addition, the CDC recommends everyone over six months of age to get the annual flu vaccine. The vaccine causes the body to develop antibodies against the strains of the flu virus believed to be most prevalent in the given year.
What to do if you get sick
Continue to practice good hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes, and try to limit contact with other individuals in the household. Stay hydrated. Get lots of rest! Seek medical care if the sick individual has a weak immune system, pregnant, a young child, or an elderly adult. If symptoms are caught early, an anti-viral may be prescribed within the first 48 hours and may decrease the duration of illness.
Hang in there, Mama.
We’ve got your back. We know you’re tired, worried, and a little stressed. We’ll understand if you miss an activity or two and won’t question your judgement on keeping your child home an extra day. Take a rain check on that dinner date with a friend and see if they’ll deliver soup to your stoop instead. Strive for a full and complete recovery.