My husband got diagnosed with type b flu on a Tuesday. The Sunday before his diagnosis, we shared a refreshing Pepsi. By Thursday, I was experiencing symptoms. I began my round of tamiflu that Friday. My children stayed with my parents for two weeks. I didn’t see them for a whole week. It was the most challenging situation to hit our household so far.
Influenza is wreaking havoc in the U.S. and literally turned my family’s life upside down. The bug intruded on my kids’ daily school routine, interrupted my smooth work operation, and forced my husband and I to sleep in separate beds for a few nights. (SN: Sleeping separately sucks. I really believe that sleeping next to someone you love reduces depression and causes people to live longer, happier lives.)
Our “couples version” of the flu was a hot, contagious mess, but we emerged wiser. Here are 5 of my takeaways from the experience:
- Hubby and I realized normalcy depended on the two of us getting better so our primary focus was getting well. That should be the solitary goal for 7-14 days. Get well. Increase your liquids, eat lots of apples and oranges, wear a mask, disinfect the living space throughout the day, keep hand sanitizer nearby, and get plenty of rest. Bed rest is so much more important than couch rest when you’re down with flu. The glow from the t.v. (any electronics for that matter) increases head and body aches. Plus, the flu virus can live in the couch for days. So, remember to spray the couch down!
- When you are pregnant and have the flu, there is no Jedi-mind-tricking yourself into feeling better. Going through flu recovery and managing the responsibilities of being pregnant can bring on a great deal of guilt. I remember when the fever and chills hit on day 1. I thought about the baby and I started welling up with tears. I literally told myself, “Do not cry!” I toughened up. Focused on my goal. And it was like the baby’s kicks gave me strength from that day forward. The stress of illness can definitely make you feel like you’re going crazy, but try not to lie around feeling guilty about being isolated, missing work or getting behind on projects– control your imagination and don’t focus on the negative. The flu brings on enough drama. Just get well!
- The virus prompts adults to do a lot of washing and disinfecting. Wash everything that has flu residue on it– blankets, clothes you’ve sweated in, pillow cases. Spray everything down. When the worst had passed, our big project was getting the house ready for our kids to come back home. We reached into the depths of hampers. Gave a much needed purge to their drawers and closets. The post-flu and cold cleaning regimen was vital to my peace of mind and made me feel like I was taking my power back.
- The days can seem long when you’re stuck inside. (By the way, let fresh air in. On your not-so-weak days, step out and get some of “God’s air”, as my husband calls it.) You will need something to do that doesn’t require brain power. I thought about “working from home”– even had a to-do list, but that’s not what being home a week is about. You will need pure entertainment. I reconnected with the black t.v. sitcom from the 90’s, Livin’ Single. Watched every season on Hulu except for season 5, because Mel Jackson as a roommate just didn’t work for me.
- Let your family living outside of flu headquarters be superheroes. Not only did our parents raise our children for 1-2 weeks, they also went to the grocery store and cooked. Rock stars, I tell you.
On tomorrow, things are set to return to normal in the Sibley household. I’m certainly grateful to be on this side of the experience. I’m rested, my heart is happier, my home was cleaner (not so much now that the kids are back), and I feel myself getting stronger and stronger. Y’all… please do not treat the flu like a regular cold. It’s not regular. It’s a shock to your body. Keep the cute little travel-size Lysol spray on you. Wash your hands. Cover your cough and your sneeze. And then, wash your hands again. Most importantly, go to the doctor or emergency care clinic as soon as you experience symptoms. In fact, stash some money away for emergency fees and medication, at least ’til Spring time.
Clinnesha D. Sibley is an award-winning playwright and published poet/essayist. She is the Literary Arts Instructor at Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven, MS. For more information, please visit: http://onepagerapp.com/clinneshadsibley.