Me and my big fucking mouth. Some days I wish I would just keep my mouth shut and everything would be so much easier. I wouldn’t be here fuming, pissed off at the sensationalist world we live in. I wouldn’t feel guilty about going downstairs to wash the pile of vomit covered laundry. I wouldn’t be so angry that I want to scream. I don’t even really know who I am angry at, is it me and my overreaction or is it the media and related insanity?
So let’s rewind just a little. When I arrived to pick up the kids from school today they were all given a special note to take home discussing the 6 degrees of separation that is causing my current dilemma. This story begins weeks ago apparently, but only affects me now. You see apparently a family recently returned from a dream holiday to the States is now in home quarantine after being confirmed as having swine flu (not all family members, only some are infected but they are all quarantined). Now that they are officially diagnosed, the school they attend has been closed, as a precautionary measure to reduce the possibility of further virus spread. Of course before they became unwell, they attended a birthday party and this is where the six degrees of separation kicks in. Apparently someone from my kids school was also at said birthday party and as a precautionary measure, they and everyone else that the infected children have come into contact with since their return have been asked to be excluded from school and work until tests prove that they do not have the virus. Now no one at our school is ill at all, it is merely a precautionary measure. Schools being schools have a duty of care to let fellow students know that there is about a 1 in 3 kajillion chance on any other child from our school being infected, but they still need to tell us – just in case.
Now maybe it is just me, but my limited knowledge of swine flu tells me that yes it is a virus that infects more people that are exposed than a traditional flu but if treated efficiently it is no more dangerous than any other flu virus that we are expecting in the coming months. OK, so maybe I am misinformed, but in an attempt to educate myself I checked out a summary on the CDC website that lists that as of 20 May 2009 there were 5,710 confirmed cases of swine flu in the US that has resulted in 8 deaths. The statistics on the WHO website, whilst more confusing seemed similar. Other websites I found showed that the regular old seasonal flu, the ones we are expecting to hit Australian any time now are more likely to cause death. The National Geographic site went as far as to say “About 36,000 people in the U.S. die annually from seasonal influenza, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized, according to the CDC.” Maybe I am misinformed and that I am not up to dealing with melodrama and media hype but it seems like this is a virus that spreads easily and is treated relatively safely and easily.
Fast forward a few hours and the kids are safely and comfortably tucked up in bed and sleeping soundly. I decide to be civil and talk to the poker players that are starting to drift in for the weekly game. Mistake #1 – In conversation I discussed the fact that the flu had hit Melbourne and that there were kids (that my kids don’t even know) excluded from my kids school as a precaution. We commented on the over-reaction of the media but agreed that it is better to be safe than sorry.
A few more hours go by and boy-child calls out for me in tears. Up I go to see him standing there beside his bed that is now covered in a pile of vomit. I stripped him down and threw him into the shower to clean off before wandering downstairs to get some Nurofen, the magic elixir that cures all around here, even if the substance provided is a placebo it still works. As I was getting the Nurofen I made Mistake #2 – I mentioned that he had thrown up and that he must have swine flu. I wandered back upstairs to deal with the mess blissfully unaware of the dramas that were unfolding downstairs.
Man-child comes upstairs to tell me that I had caused pandemonium by even mentioning swine flu, that people wanted to go home because they didn’t want to get infected. These are the same people who were minutes ago making jokes about the pandemonium caused by the media. Now these people are freaking out yet they haven’t been in contact with boy-child at all today or even recently. Boy-child hasn’t been in known contact with anyone who is potentially at risk yet he is clearly suffering from swine flu. In actual fact he coughed until he threw up, something that he has done before in the past, as have many kids. He was complaining about a tickle in his throat earlier in the evening so it makes sense.
I feel terrible that one of the people in our house has an immuno-suppressed child, hence the earlier discussions about swine flu to let her know our latest health status. We frequently let her know of the health issues we are facing as to not put her and her family at risk from further infection. The fact that she herself was in no fit state but was still out and about on a cold evening surprised me, she was clearly full up with a cold or virus of some sort, as is a large proportion of Melbourne.
So now as a result of me opening my big fucking mouth I am arguing with man-child over whether the now sleeping restfully boy-child who is no longer coughing and has no fever should be woken and taken to the hospital as a precaution. Do we exclude him from further school just in case of more paranoia. Mostly I feel like crap because I think everyone is being overly melodramatic and just let the poor kid sleep, but then what if I am wrong? Also as a result of me and my big fucking mouth we are paying for a friend to sleep in a motel so that she doesn’t expose her child to any other virus, however remote the possibility because I would never be able to live with myself if anything bad were to happen.
The irony of the situation is that on more than one occasion there have been unwell kids in the house at the time of a poker game. It was never intentional, with kid illnesses they hit unexpectedly in seconds and pass just as quickly. One second they are fine the next they are in the bathroom with gastro or some other freaky bug that is crawling through the neighbourhood. That has never been a problem, it was only a bug or a virus or anything other than swine flu or some other media created mess.
All that being said, with the state of affairs around here, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if my next post of tweet were from some isolation unit somewhere.
OK, there it is all out. I may be over-reacting. I may regret posting this but just getting these words onto the screen had made me feel better about the situation. I just have to deal with it, what is done is done and now I just need to learn to keep my damn mouth shut.