Almost three months ago, my son (Ryan) started going to a Head Start Early Childhood Education class. The Independence (MO) Public School District (where we live) sponsors it for a modest fee of $75 per week. He goes for four hours each weekday. They provide breakfast and lunch for him (which he mostly doesn't eat ... and I can't say I blame him ... school food definitely hasn't improved any since I was in school). He also gets the chance to socialize with other kids around his own age, and gets some structured early education.
Of course, being around the other children has its negative side effects. Namely, he's exposed to a wider range of pathogens, which he then brings home to share with his sister, mom and dad. In the three short months he has been attending school, he has brought home norovirus and two colds. Lexi (thankfully) somehow avoided contracting the norovirus, but mom and dad weren't as lucky. We're basically on track to get one new infection every month, thus far.
If you've never had a norovirus infection, you don't want to sign up for the experience -- trust me. It's 24 hours (or so) of hell that leaves you feeling completely drained. Most people call it "stomach flu," but it isn't influenza. This food borne illness will leave you confused about which end (front door or back door) to put over the stool.
Ryan then passed his next illness -- a cold -- to his sister, and I was the recipient of the virus from both of them. With a toddler and an infant sneezing and coughing in my face from about a foot away, I was doomed. That cold persisted for a couple of weeks before turning into a sinus infection that necessitated a trip to the urgent care clinic and a 10 day course of antibiotics to treat that sinus infection.
This latest round will hopefully be the mildest. It's already seeming that way, anyway. Ryan passed his next cold on to his sister, who then passed it on to me. It has more of the rhinitis symptoms than anything else, and (as of the writing of this article) seems to be waning after only a couple of days misery.
You wouldn't think that I'd be as susceptible to these infectious agents he brings home from school, since I work in a hospital around sick people all the time. But at least in that environment, I have the ability to take the necessary precautions to prevent me from being a casualty. That isn't necessarily so when it's your own child or children. When you spend the day wiping their noses, being coughed on, and changing diapers, there is bound to be a break in your defenses at some point in the day. It just isn't like when I'm at work and always on guard. Plus, it's next to impossible to teach a toddler the proper hand hygiene that's key to preventing the spread of pathogens. Shirt sleeves also make handy tissues, at least in their minds.
So, until next month, I bid you peace, happiness, prosperity, serenity ... and good health.
This month's cover image is courtesy of Kailanie, reproduced here from WikiCommons under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.