The season of phlegm: on avoiding Flu FOMO

This post was sponsored by Clorox


Warning: California resident about to whine about winter. Temper resentment accordingly.
I hate winter.

I HATE IT.

I’ve never liked it. I spent most of my childhood in Central Florida, where the winter was a time when you wore a cardigan over your tank top. When I was 18, I decided I wanted to college somewhere where I could “experience the seasons”. But really, I did this with all the anthropological curiosity of someone going to live with an ancient tribe in the Peruvian rainforest. I knew it wouldn’t be a lifelong gig. I just wanted to see what the whole thing was about.



Fast forward to the first snow of my freshman year. I fell down the stairs of my school library after slipping on a patch of ice, injuring my elbow (and my pride) in front of half the student body. This would be one of many ice-related incidents during those gray days of college. I also distinctly remember waking up to the sound of people scraping snow off their windshield in the dark, realizing that I would have to do the same if I wanted to leave the campus/function as an adult. I remember my growing resolve on those mornings:

I will NEVER AGAIN live somewhere where I have to scrape my car windows in the morning.
So I can’t really complain that I’ve landed in Southern California. Except, I am going to complain. Isn’t that endearing of me? I still hate winter . . . even though I live somewhere where “coat checks” and snow plows are things my kids have never heard of. I still abhor November through March.

First of all, the time change. I’ve never liked the winter time change and if it didn’t seem completely petty and self-serving, I’d go lobby congress about it because SERIOUSLY? The vast majority of us don’t really need sunlight creeping in our window at 6am. We need it at 6pm when we are driving home from a dreary day at work. But with kids, the time change is an especially unfortunate season.

My typical summer evening involves sending the children outside from dinner until bedtime. Now, every night Mark and I look at each other after dinner with a wordless question: what the hell do we do with them for the next two hours? The kids are stir crazy and bouncing off the walls in the evening when it’s too cold and dark to play outside, and I have gotten to the point where I would like to build an isolation chamber that I can live in during the evenings, where I can see the children and smile at them, but no have to hear them.

And to top it all off, it's cold and flu season.

With four kids, it seems like our family is passing something around every other week. And because I have major allergies, a simple cold can often turn into a sinus infection. I have been plagued with allergies my whole life, but up until about two years ago, I thought I was just someone who had a perpetual sinus infection during flu season. I should clarify . . . I did have a perpetual sinus infection during flu season. I just didn’t realize it, and thought I was just having a cold that lasted the whole winter. A couple times a year I would have to go in and get a round of antibiotics to knock it out, and my doctor would remind me about my asthma and allergies and ask if I was taking any pills . . . and I would be all, “oh yeah . . . that.”

All that to say, I need to work hard to keep from having a rotating bug in our house. Because it always seems to come at the worst time. Last year, it came while we were in the middle of a remodel and I had two back-to-back work trips. Just before the second trip, somewhat predictably, I woke up in the middle of the night with a raging sore throat, a runny nose, and body aches. Things got progressively worse as the day went on, and I don’t know how many times I said to myself: I CANNOT AFFORD TO BE SICK RIGHT NOW. That month my calendar was as packed as it has ever been, and my body basically staged a full-on revolt. Instead of dealing with my to-do list and going on that second trip, I shuffled from the bed to the sofa with a kleenex box, a puke bowl and a bottle of NyQuil close at hand.

I really want to avoid Flu FOMO this year. You know . . . the "fear of missing out" experience of being sidelined with the flu. I've got a packed holiday season. In the next month I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with my family, to Beer and Hymns, to our annual Friendsgiving potluck, to serving with my church, to our next book club, and a trip to Montgomery to engage in racial justice work. I would hate to miss any of these events due to Flu FOMO.

This year, I've tried to be more proactive about keeping the cold and flu at bay. I’m trying to stay on top of the kids washing their hands, and I’m relying on Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes to keep our surfaces clean and germ-free. Clorox Disinfecting Wipes help kill 99.9% of germs that can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, as well as 99.9% of viruses* and bacteria – plus Staph, E. Coli, salmonella and strep. And their Micro-Scrubbers version are great for sticky and cakey messes. I keep the house clean and germs at bay with a simple wipe-down.

This flu season Clorox is partnering with Sickweather to help prevent FluFOMO. Sickweather allows you to report illnesses and tracks social networks for indicators of illness. You can download the Sickweather app so that you can see how severe the cold and flu season is in your local area and help avoid illness, including FluFOMO. You can join Sickweather Groups to share or check symptoms associated with a specific location, like your kids’ schools or your office. It's a great tool to stay aware of the flu risk in your community.

This winter, we are trying to stay sane, and keep healthy, and looking forward to spring, when it’s light past 6pm and the kids can play outside to their hearts’ content.



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