February 26, 2018

The Great Mysteries of the Flu

fluBy Julie Samrick

It seems everyone I know has been affected by the same doozy of a flu virus this winter. I’ve heard more than one parent explain it as “death.” My 5th grader said there were 18 kids missing out of his class of 30 last week, so I thought for sure we were done for when my youngest started vomiting last week.

Just hours after I jinxed things by saying how our family never gets sick, my little daughter threw up in the middle of the night, and continued to do so until lunchtime.  She didn’t get a fever, and thankfully she kicked that bug out in even less than the standard 24 hours. Regardless, I went on prevention overload while she was sick, doing everything I could (as well as hoping and praying) the rest of us didn’t get it.

Everyone in our family of 6 has gotten the stomach flu at one time or another except for my husband since I’ve known him (Can you believe he hasn’t thrown up once since he was 17 years old?) Still, none of us has ever had influenza- the Big Daddy of flu viruses that comes with fever, sore throat, chills, body aches, congestion, and sometimes vomiting.  It’s the virus for which a single shot to supposedly prevent it can cause grown ups to argue- I’ve heard about more controversy on the playground, at the office, or at the family dinner table whether people are for or against flu shots.  Influenza can last days, if not weeks, and makes 24 hour stomach bugs seem like a day at the park. 

Nearly a week after our youngest had the stomach flu, it looks like my little first grader has influenza.  Just when I thought we were in the clear, she threw up Sunday night, nearly a week after her sister was sick. She threw up only once, but it’s segued into a new, foreign phase for us- a high fever, aches, and fatigue.  One mom told me this morning to just wait for phase 3-respiratory symptoms like cold and coughing- I can hardly wait.

Here are some of the other mysteries that got me thinking more about that elusive three letter word:

  • Stomach bug or Influenza? How can one family get the stomach flu time and again, but never the real respiratory flu?  Are they different strains?
  • Food poisoning or a virus? If the stomach flu is food poisoning (as I’ve been told, but just don’t believe) how can other family members get it days later?
  • Without fail, why does vomiting always strike in the middle of the night when things are most at peace?
  • Why do viruses, especially the stomach flu, love kids?  I got it plenty as a child, but never once in my young adulthood did I have it. It only reared its ugly head once again when my husband and I brought our own little people under our roof.
  • How long do germs live? Once one person in a household gets the flu, is it only a matter of time before others do? Has the contagion already done its dirty work?  Should you just sit back and hope and wait you don’t get it too?  Was a week too soon to think we were in the clear?
  • Recovery Foods. With all of the new foods on the market, why is it that the same old foods and drinks from 75 years ago are still the best way to recover?  7-Up, Saltines, and chicken noodle soup are still the best, just like they were for me and for my mother when she was a girl.  My kids scowled and looked at me like I was crazy, though, when I told them my mom used to give me hot, liquid Jello (that one didn’t go over so well!)

I wish you all good health!


A credentialed teacher, Julie Samrick is now a stay-at-home mother of four kids and the founder of Kid Focused.


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