Friday, 21 June 2013

Sick of sick

Does anyone else out there feel like your kids are forever sick?!? My kids seem to have everything, from ear ache to headache. From sneeze to wheeze. And even the odd foot and mouth, lice and everything nice! I suppose that is the joys of being a working parent and having our children in a germ pool during the day. Unfortunately with gathering a large group of children comes an increase of nose picking, bum scratching and face licking accompanied by an inability to recognise when it's probably a good time to wash your hands. I don't begrudge daycare for the illnesses. It's not their fault! I myself have been 'that parent' that sent my kids to daycare when they are unwell. Because let's be honest, if we kept them home for every sniffle, you'd never work! Sick days are used only for the kids and if you use one for yourself you HAVE TO be on the verge of death! And unless you have ever sat yourself in a room of 15-20 children and managed to get them not to stick their fingers into anything suspicious, I suggest you give them a break! My problem with the cold and flu side of the scenario is that two of my three children are asthmatic, which puts a whole new slant on a cold. It means sleepless nights with frequent puffers, pillows under mattresses, vaporisers, steroids, nebulisers and the odd trip to the emergency department (and even a call for an ambulance in a little scary moment). Colds and respiratory tract type illness are an asthmatic (or the mother of an asthmatic) 's worst enemy! 

When you're at home with sick kids you get NOTHING done. There is no 'cleaning the house while you have a day off', because if that child is genuinely unwell, they do not want to leave your side/lap/hip. Being a nurse you would think I'm better at it. I'm NOT! I forget doses of antibiotics, I forget to look at the clock when I give my kids panadol, and I am one of the worst for 'she'll be right'. I have 'she'll be righted' through contagious illnesses, asthma attacks, dislocations/breaks and god knows what else, simply because you don't have the time. Unless the illness or injury is demanding your attention (ie. your child is screaming in pain/has a roaring temperature/ or is struggling to breathe) then 'she'll be right'.

 I think when you are always dealing with sick kids you start to triage the kids illnesses and only deal with something that is life threatening, sleep threatening or sanity threatening. Miss H often (on a weekly basis at least!) will come up with some form of complaint like 'my ankle feels weird', 'my knee clicks', 'what does it mean when your palms are itchy' or my favourite 'my arm hurts when I do this' which I respond with 'we'll don't do that then!'. The poor kid one day may actually find something wrong with her and ill shake it off saying 'what would you like me to do about that?' just because as a mum, you're sick of sick! Presently I have had one day off last week with Miss A having had high temperatures, now this week I have had two days off with Miss M having high temperatures, asthma and the works and now Miss A has gone and shared with her sister so hopefully it has run its course by the start of the new working week. There's also the fear of being the hypochondriac mother and the knowledge that there is such a huge pressure on our health system without us taking up appointments for, lets face it, something the doctors cannot treat! 

Then there's sick day envy. Watching your childless friends having time off for a cold or a 'mental health day' knowing that your sick days are already used up a few months into winter. The beauty of it however is that generally by the time your kids hit school age you know they've pretty much had everything under the sun and they'll cruise through. While all the other children [non daycare] miss half their first year of school. For those of you who are going back to work. Plan for most of the first year to be spent on family leave! It took my kids a good six months to develop their 'day care immunity'. I must admit to a family leave guilt. As much as I would prefer frankly to sit at home and get paid for it, I feel bad having days off! You feel slack! You feel like your letting the team down! But in the end, above all you're a parent and those little snotty noses come first.

Child illness is just plain gross! They don't tidily vomit in a bucket, they hurl everywhere, often in their beds, leaving chunks of things you didn't really want to see again lodged in their hair. They don't just sneeze, they explode great green candlesticks down to their chins. They don't want to curl up in bed with some aloe vera tissues, they want to sit on your knee, wipe their nose on your shoulder making you look like a snail has taken a detour, and then scream like a banshee if you try to wipe their nose in the socially appropriate way. And they want to cuddle. So you tend to their cuddling needs, jumping at every hiccup (thinking they're about to throw up), try not to breathe when they sneeze or cough, and smile outwardly yet cringe inwardly when they give you that big snotty kiss that you know will be the first thing you think of when you are busily making breakfast for kids with tampons up your nose having caught the bug.

We have tried vitamins, diet changes, changing routines, extra cleaning, hand gels, extra hand-washing, toy sterilising and the works. Every now and again someone suggests another expensive idea and while I consider it momentarily, I always come out thinking, this is all just part of it, everyone is in the same situation at some point; winter, another probable sleepless night ahead, minimal sick days left and fingers and toes crossed that this one [illness] will be the one that gives them immunity to dodge the germ bullets until the employment anniversary clocks over, and you had more sick days again!

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