Sunday, January 13, 2013

This Post is NOT Contagious

by Leann

From the number of posts from Facebook friends, many of you are suffering from a not-so-nice cold and flu season. My husband came down with a cold the minute we got off the airplane coming back from Christmas in Seattle. I pumped him with herbs and vitamins all to no avail. He was sick for nearly two weeks. Then it was my turn. Have to take turns, right?

When I was a school nurse, I used to dread coming back from the Christmas break. Every other kid was sick and the others had already been sick. I always sent out a note to parents at the beginning of the school year that sick children would be sent home and that they should not return until they were free of fever for 24 hours. Well along came advil and motrin. A dose before school, and guess what? Free of fever. Until about lunch time when the medicine wore off. Didn't mean these kids weren't coughing and sneezing and downright miserable. But their parents had to go to work, right?

I understood the dilemma. Lots of vacation time was taken during the holidays. They HAD to go to work. Or that was the reasoning. And in low income schools like the one I worked in, parents were often not allowed to leave their fast food joint place of business for something as silly as a sick child. I often kept feverish, coughing, vomiting children for hours while their parents scrambled to find someone to pick up their sick child. Some parents just ignored me, though. Yup. Bus drivers don't like taking home children with 103 temperatures, but that's sometimes what happened.

I honed my detective skills working that job. By the time I retired I could track down a parent (brothers and sisters of sick child are often quite helpful) within an hour and had no problem talking to the bosses who decided the parents "couldn't" leave work. Oh yes they could. And we would even send someone to come and get said parent if they claimed not to have transportation.

One time, during a particularly bad flu season like the one we are having now, one of my disabled children became very ill, very quickly. I called her mother, who said she was coming, and then held that poor baby in my arms for the next 3 hours. By the time her mother finally showed up, the child's temperature was 106. (Nurses cannot give any medicine that doesn't come from the parent with a note and directions.) She was back in school 3 days later. (Probably after getting her morning dose of motrin.)

If you are reading this and are young enough to have school-age children, don't forget the nurse when you are handing out thank-yous. That is, if their job hasn't been eliminated because of budget cuts.

What about you? Flu? Cold? Or lucky enough to be healthy?

PS--It's not too late to get your flu shot ... or flu-mist if you're scared!