May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Holding Our Breaths Through Flu Season

I know you aren’t going to believe this, but I have something in common with Kelly Ripa. In case you don’t know who she is, she is the talk show hostess from ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael (formerly Live with Regis and Kathie Lee). She was also on the soap opera All My Children. Kelly is a blonde wisp of a thing, with arms that don’t jiggle at all. But, yes, I do have something in common with her.

The other day, I was watching the beginning of the show because, well, I have nothing else to do (to be read with sarcastic overtones) and she said that when she walks by someone who is coughing, she holds her breath for 10 seconds or so as she passes them. She believes that the germs will not affect her if she does this. OMG, I do the exact same thing! So, even though that is the only thing we have in common, at least it is something. Well, that isn’t exactly true, we are also both from New Jersey, but that is where the similarities end.

Flu season seems to be upon us, and it is in full swing. There was a school in Chicago that had to close to be disinfected because over 100 kids were sick. The CDC has already warned the general public that this year’s flu shot is only 30–50% effective. Apparently, they screwed up and made the vaccine up of a different strain than the strain that is affecting people. This is all Greek to me; I have no idea what they are talking about. I would assume that it is a crapshoot every year. How could they possibly know? In my mind I see some guy with glasses (I am making him look smarter) who goes to the flu-refrigerator, looks around at all of the choices–like he is trying to find a snack–goes eeny-meeny-miny-mo, and voil?, the flu vaccine for that year is created.

My friend is currently recovering from the flu, though, hopefully, by the time this goes to press, he will be fully recovered. He actually suggested that I write about his personal experience. So, personally, he has been miserable, but he informed me that he has lost five pounds; so, even though miserable, he looks even better in his skinny jeans. His wife, who always looks good in her skinny jeans, is just plain miserable because there is nothing more annoying that having a husband with the flu, or a cold, or any ailment. Men just don’t make very good patients. Sorry, my friend, I know that wasn’t the angle you were looking for and I hope you forgive me.

I still remember when son #3 would have croup. I would attempt the whole steam in the shower scenario, whilst husband #1 slept peacefully in his bed. When that wouldn’t work, off to the emergency room I would go with my precious little boy. Four hours and a breathing treatment later, we would come home and there would be husband #1, still peacefully sleeping in his bed. And you people wonder why I call him husband #1!

I also had the pleasure of having little boys who ran high fevers. Two of them actually hit 106 once, at the same time. I am still grateful that those were not accompanied by febrile seizures and, after a few days and a few bottles of grape flavored Advil, they were, thank God, okay. Allow me to share a story with you, but you have to promise not to report me, though I think the statute of limitations is up on this one…

My boys were almost 4 and 3 at the time, maybe a little younger. They both had fevers; they both had ear infections. It was cold and rainy outside. I put on a Blue’s Clues video, called my cell phone, gave it to son #1 and said, “Just keep talking to me.” I sped to CVS with the prescription, ran to Amazing Savings to buy them coloring books and crayons, ran back to CVS to pick up the prescription and sped home, all while getting the play-by-play of what Steve and Blue were up to (if you don’t know about Blue’s Clues, it is irrelevant to the story about my horrible parenting). The whole trip was 17 minutes and, believe me, I know that time down to the second. I run into the house, my kids are still alive and adorable, I give them their medication and everyone is happy. All is fine and dandy until daddy comes home from work.

“How was your day, kids? How are you feeling?” The boys looked up at him with their blue eyes and said, “Mommy left us home and went to get us medicine.” Yup, that didn’t end too well, but I am so grateful that I am still wife #1.

The moral of this column? I hope you all stay healthy this flu season, either with the vaccine or without it, and remember to hold your breath when somebody coughs.

Banji Ganchrow is the proud mother of three boys who have never called Child Protective Services on her, but they have been tempted many, many times.

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

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