Last week I read a story online that shook me to my core. It was posted by a Mom in Toronto who lost her 2.5 year old child to Influenza B this past May. A virus had been making its way through her three young children that week, and on the morning of his death, her 2.5yo son woke up with a mild fever, no other major symptoms to speak of. She kept him home that day and he had been playing normally with his brother all morning. She gave him some Tylenol and put him and his brother down for their nap. About two hours later she went in to wake them both up so they could go and pick up their older sister from school, and her 2.5yo son was non-responsive. In the period of approximately two hours, her healthy, active, two year old died from Influenza B. The loss that this family and this mother have suffered is unimaginable. The pain is unimaginable. My heart is broken for this family. My heart cannot begin to imagine what this Mother is going through.
I can’t get this story out of my mind. I have lost sleep every night since hearing about it. I know that complications like this happen to only a handful of people who contract the Influenza virus, but as a Mother, I can’t help but be terrified by the chance that this *could* happen. I would have done the exact same thing, in fact, I HAVE done the exact same thing so many times. During the peak cold and flu season in my household it seems that we have more days with fevers than we do without. I have four kids, so by the time one virus has made its way through my household, a new virus has made its way in. My kids wake up with a fever, no big deal. I monitor their symptoms and I give them Tylenol to make them feel more comfortable. I keep them home, give them lots of fluids and extra snuggles, and I put them to bed because rest is what they need in order to get better. I don’t bother calling a Dr. until their fever has lasted more than 3 days or until I notice symptoms that are worrisome, and of course, as their Mother, I know when I see symptoms that are worrisome, because, as their Mother, I. Just. Know. So this story has shaken me to my core, because I could be that Mother. My child could be that child. It is a pain that I don’t think anyone can ever get over. It is a tragedy that changes people forever.
What can I do? I know that my two youngest children are in the “high risk” category when it comes to the Influenza virus because they are under the age of five and their little bodies just can’t fight the virus the same as a healthy older child or adult can. Which means that if my husband, myself or my two older children contract the virus, we would put my two younger children at risk. I need to do everything in my power to make sure that this does not happen to my family. I need to do everything in my power to make sure that we all have the strength we need to fight this virus. My husband and I decided this year we would all get our flu shots. In fact, we all had them done this week. Sure, it wasn’t super fun, two of my daughters have a pretty major fear of needles and cried and carried on more than they probably should have, I’ve had to listen to some grumbling and complaining because a few of us have had some minor side effects and we all have sore arms where we were injected, but I feel good about our decision. I feel confident in our decision. I choose to trust science and healthcare, and I am resting easier knowing that they are protected.