I believed I was invincible. Like Madeline, who, “to the tiger at the zoo, just said “Poo Poo!”’ I believed I would not succumb to the dreaded virus that was rapidly weaving its way through my classroom. My immune system was untouchable, and nothing, certainly not the flu, would take me down.
Entering my 11th year of teaching, I had built stronger and stronger flu fighters I felt certainly were still with me here for my first year in kindergarten. Wiping far more noses, receiving the full frontal face-blow of far more sneezes and coughs than I care to count, I could almost feel my immunities building and growing exponentially as the days turned into weeks, and eventually into months.
Late January. Already 6 of my 19 kiddos had missed a significant number of days in school; all home with similar ailments: fever, cough, congestion, general lethargy. Several returned to school only to relapse 2 days later. It was rough. But my invincibility was as real to me as ever.
My cough started innocently. Quiet at first, but slowly began moving deeper into my chest. No fever. No sinus congestion. So I ignored the incessant nagging cough that seemed set on remaining my companion, still believing my firestorm of immunities would soon call in the cavalry and kill this thing.
Valentine’s Day eve everything changed. An about-face in my symptoms set in during the night as I slept, and I knew I was in trouble. But writing sub plans for Valentines Day? In kindergarten? Not going to happen. I rallied. By lunchtime, I was going down fast. Fever and chills were setting in. We made it through the Valentine exchange, and thank goodness PE immediately followed. I put in for a sub to come the next 2 days, and held on tight until 3:30.
The next two days were darkness. Sleep and more sleep. I now know that was when I should have pushed myself to get into urgent care for Tamiflu. Ignorance once again. But when you believe you have invincible immunity, you make foolish decisions. I now know better.
My initial flu symptoms subsided within 2 days, but even with a couple of days feeling better, I clearly had not won the battle. A more insidious virus was waiting in the shadows, ready to jump in and fill the empty spaces left by Influenza B.
Queue a relapse. Several days of coughing, sneezing, weakening vocal chords, (what do you expect, teaching in kindergarten day after day?) eventually ended with a wave of the white flag of surrender. Another 2 days of sub plans, with, thank goodness, a Rx for codeine cough syrup (oh, cue the angels!) and an antibiotic brought the much needed rest to bring me back out of the fog.
I still have students dropping like flies around me, so I know the bugs have not been entirely extinguished from our classroom. Spring is coming s-l-o-w-l-y to northwest Montana, (we still have at least a foot of snow vehemently staking its place on the ground) so until I send home the final pair of snow pants and boots (can anyone say Spring Break?), I will remain vigilant. I will not miss taking my vitamins, including extra vitamin C, get plenty of sleep, and wash my hands – A.LOT. I’m not untouchable, but I hope to at least be less accessible next flu season!
How have you survived this cold/flu season? Do you have any go-to remedies you can’t live without while navigating the treacherous winter weeks when the bugs seem to be everywhere? Please share them in the comments below – I would love to load my arsenal for next year!