I'm Just Sayin': Keeping cool during cold and flu season

Our son Josh has a cold. Again.

In China, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, but in our house, it’s the Year of the Sick Child. Josh even got a jump start on it by missing the last three days of school before winter break.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a boy in elementary school gets sick so often — especially one with an aversion to soap and water. Health experts advise us to teach our children to wash their hands thoroughly by using warm water, soap, vigorous friction and singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

Josh’s way of washing his hands means putting a small pump of foam soap on one hand, rinsing it off almost before it makes contact with his skin, and then immediately turning off the water. Occasionally he even dries his hands with a towel.

This week he asked to stay home from school because his nose was a bit drippy and his voice was a little hoarse from post nasal drip. I explained to him that the criteria for staying home starts with having a fever above 100 degrees. If every child with a minor cold didn’t go to school, classrooms would be half empty and the district would lose thousands of dollars in state funding.

During the times that I have let Josh stay home to rest, he would miraculously get better within an hour of the start of the school day. It never failed.

We do try to take all of the recommended preventive measures possible to keep the kids healthy. They get enough sleep, take vitamins and generally eat healthy foods, so I‘m not sure why Josh‘s immune system isn’t working as well as it used to.

We have been lucky so far that neither he nor his sister have ever had the flu or stomach viruses, with the accompanying unpleasant effects that they have on the body, namely vomiting and diarrhea.

I remember when I was a kid I would get nearly every dreaded virus that was going around, sometimes several within a single school year. My mom would set up me up on the couch with all of the things that I needed to feel better (a soft pillow, blanket, toys and a glass of flat 7-Up), but the most important item would be on the floor, always within easy reach — a small red bucket. You can probably guess that it was very useful, if I couldn’t get to the bathroom in time.

Just the thought of cleaning up a child with nasty stuff coming out of either end of their body makes me queasy. I feel truly blessed for having dodged that bullet for all of these years and I pray that my luck holds for a long time to come.

It’s amazing that science still hasn’t found a cure for common cold or the flu. It sure would make moms’ lives a lot easier.

SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at sharonchary@gmail.com.

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