Swine Flu Is in the House

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Maria Rodale CEO and Chairman of Rodale, Inc. and book author

Well, so much for prevention. When you have a 12-year-old and a 3-year-old who provoke each other by trying to lick each other, there is no defense against a pandemic virus like H1N1. Eve came home from school with it last week. This week, her school has shut down for three days--and now Lucia has it.

We were lucky to catch the infection early enough to get the kids on Tamiflu (the pediatrician said his office is experiencing a deluge of calls). But there is no sign of a vaccine in sight, and now it's too late anyway.

Of course, I saw the article in the Washington Post about how more girls are suffering serious consequences than boys, and then I saw the 60 Minutes episode which described the seriousness of the pandemic. Needless to say, I am scared. I am scared for my kids, scared for me, and scared for all parents out there who are facing unexpected and possibly tragic consequences from this illness.

And yet it feels like there is only so much I can do: Keep them hydrated, rested, well-fed. Give them fresh air, but not too much exposure to cold air. Vitamins. Baths. Take their temperature every hour with the SpongeBob SquarePants thermometer. (Check the online Rodale Remedy Finder and our swine flu news stories for more flu treatment tips. It's also a good time to add a copy of The Big Doctors Book of Home Remedies, just published, to your bookshelf.)

But at a certain point it feels like we all just have to surrender to fate. And pray.

I've gone to work, but when people hear about my kids they can't help but step back and lean away from me. I have no idea if I'll catch the flu or not. I've rescheduled a few appointments just in case.

Meanwhile, today is an absolutely gorgeous day and I know it's a cliché--but I can't help but feel that things will get better--partly because today I planted peonies. Last week in Washington I bought some peonies from a place called Peony's Envy. I mean, how could I resist? Not only do I absolutely adore the flowers, I love a good funny name. So today I dug holes (never as deeply as I should, I am fundamentally a lazy gardener). I put the roots into the soil and covered them up, and thought about next spring. Who knows what will happen between now and then? Anything might. I hope and pray it will all be good. But I can be pretty certain that next spring, there will be peonies growing right where I planted them.

And today, this moment, that's enough to get me through.

Postscript: Turns out I was right to reschedule those appointments. As of this morning, it's day 3 since my doctor diagnosed me with swine flu, and it totally sucks.

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