Many of my 12 Days of Holiday Giveaways posts have been about various gift ideas, and how to have a fun and relaxing Holiday season. But what if you get sick? Or your child gets sick? I was sick one Christmas not too long ago. As I coughed, sneezed and tried to peer through my watery eyes to see what people were opening in their Christmas stockings, I really wanted to crawl back into bed.
So I thought I would take the common “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and tweak it to fit the reality of cold and flu season. Because, really, let’s be realistic:
Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Everyone was stirring, yes, even the mouse;
Though the stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
No one cared that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children had fevers as they snuggled in their beds,
While visions of ibuprofen and acetaminophen danc’d in their heads,
And Mama with her handkerchief, and my tissue in my lap,
Had just settled down since our coughing paused for a gap,
When outside the house there arose such a clatter,
But I didn’t energy to see what was the matter.
I hobbled to the window in a non-dash,
Opened the shutters, and hoped not to throw-up on the sash.
When, what to my watering eyes should appear,
But a minature sleigh, filled with cold and flu gear,
With a driver with energy showing he wasn’t sick,
I knew through all the medicine it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than a virus, his coursers they came,
And without a sore throat, he shouted and called them by name;
“Now! Flu, now! Colds, now! Aches, and Cough,
“Off! Fever, off! Watery eyes, off! Pain, Off Off Off!;
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As a hacking cough leaves you high and dry,
St. Nicholas flew up into the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of aspirin and tissue – and St. Nicholas too:
And despite my ear infection, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I sneezed in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in scrubs, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and snot;
A bundle of pharmaceutical products was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a pharmacist just opening his pack:
His eyes – how they twinkled! Not a watery eye to be found,
His cheeks were like roses, his good health abound;
His non-coughing mouth was drawn up like a bow,
How he never gets sick, I will never know;
The stump of a thermometer he held tight in his teeth,
And the bacteria in the house encircled his head like a wreath.
He didn’t have the stomach flu in his round belly,
He was able to keep down a meal of dried toast and jelly.
He was healthy and happy, a right jolly old elf,
And I was envious when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his clear eye and a twist of his non-aching head
Soon gave me to know that I would no longer have a fever to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d my hands with products; then turn’d with a jerk,
And since he didn’t have to blow or wipe his nose,
He gave a quick nod, and up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, since he was healthy as a whistle,
And away they all flew, trying to dodge the sickness missle;
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a feverless night.
Yes, people, I did write that myself. So no stealing.
But the reality is, what can you do to keep you and your family healthy this winter? Here are 5 basic tips I gleemed from a recent event with Dr. Meg Meeker – a popular pediatrician and leading authority on children’s health. She also has a great book called 10 Habits of Healthy Mothers that I personally can’t wait to read.
- Wash your hands. If you can’t get to water and soap, carry hand-sanitizer and use frequently. We call it “Germie Juice” in our house.
- Use a humidifier in the house. A study last year by Environmental Health showed that the use of portable humidifiers, like the Vicks Humidifiers, in the home may reduce the survival of airborne flu virus by controlling humidity indoors. Specifically, if the humidity in your home is between 40-60%, the flu virus survival in the air can be dramatically decreased by up to 30 percent for homes with radiant heat and 17 percent for homes with forced air heat. You can buy a humidity thermometer (a.k.a. hygrometer) to check the humidity levels in a certain room.
- Stock up on items before you get sick so you don’t have to make a trip to the drugstore with a sick (and cranky) child or when you just want to crawl into bed yourself. Products containing Ibuprofen are great for muscle aches and Acetaminophen is great for reducing fevers.
- Take your child’s temperature before they get sick so you have a baseline to determine how bad the fever is or if they really have a fever. If your child’s everyday temperature is 99.0 degrees, then a temperature reading of 99.5 may not be bad. But if your child’s temperature trends lower like 98.0 degrees, then 99.5 is more alarming.
- Get plenty of rest and eat healthy foods. We all know that, but a reminder is always good!
If you do get sick:
- Drink plenty of fluids like Gatorade (or pedialyte for kids 3 and under.)
- Use saline drops in the nose and then an ear sucker (a.k.a. ear syringe) (not a nose sucker, a.k.a nasal aspirator) to unstuff the stuffy nose of little kids who can’t yet blow their nose. The tip (similar to an ear thermometer tip) is easier to get in the nose, which is why it is recommended.
- Use the right thermometer for accuracy. For children under 2, use a rectal thermometer (ahem…make sure to label it as such and clean it after each use!) For children who are over two, but not ready for an oral thermometer, a Vicks behind-the-ear thermometer is great since it takes the temperature near a major artery (unlike a forehead thermometer.) If you take a temperature orally, make sure not to eat or drink anything hot or cold 30 minutes prior to prevent a false reading.
- Know the difference between a cold and the flu. A cold lasts 3-5 days and the flu last about a week. Cold symptoms include stuffy heads, low fever, but everyone can still function. Flu is headaches, high fever, body aches, and wanting not to do anything. Plus, you may not always need antibotics. If a cough lasts more than two weeks, has an ear infection or a nasal mucus is thick yellow, you may want to check in with your doctor.
Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, but did attend a lovely event hosted by 360PublicRelations and Kaz, and also received a goodie bag of Vicks products to keep me healthy and blogging this winter! All opinions and text, however, are my own.
Image Credit: mcfarlandmo via Flickr Creative Commons