The Germinator

I am just coming off a week-long engagement with the flu.

I did not think it was the flu at the outset. I thought it was my round three of that crappy hacking cough cold stuff going around. I have coughed so vigorously with that malady in its repeated occurrences since mid-December that it should count as aerobic exercise. I hate that stuff and it seems everyone and their mother has had it at least once. I wish it on no one.

I have a clear “If you are sick, stay home” policy for my students.  I have seen illness sweep across plenty of college classrooms when sick students drag themselves into class and end up inadvertently infecting their classmates. I think the least I can do in the face of these spreading epidemics is to make it okay for students to be good stewards of a healthy classroom.

Thus, my point of vulnerability is not at work where I am equipped with a strong policy, trained eye, and plenty of hand sanitizer at the ready to remediate any potential threats. My point of vulnerability is much more difficult to manage. Here it is.

You can see my dilemma. This is my darling granddaughter Liv. She just turned one.

I have learned over the past year that those communicable illnesses which my darling granddaughter Liv gets, I will most surely get.  She is almost universally patient zero in most illnesses that traverse our family. It is this reality that causes me to call her the family “Germinator.”

Oddly, I do not recall my grandson Lennon (who is just shy of four years older than Liv) being such an effective petri dish when he was this age. I surmise the difference could be attributed to a number of things: he was sick less often, I was less susceptible, or perhaps I have glossed over what really happened as one glosses over the pain of childbirth.  Regardless of the actual facts, the perception is that the smallest of the grandchildren is the most deadly.

But darn, she’s cute. She’s sniffling, she’s coughing, she’s drooling – but  look at that adorable little face. She sucks me in every time. And then I get it – whatever it is – just like her mom, dad, brother, and any other naive family member who think they will escape the deadliness of the Germinator.

I know that my family is not alone in this situation. This is the reality of daycare. It is a cesspool of germs and disease punctuated with darling little people. Illness moves through daycare facilities more predictably and with greater saturation than any other place where humans are aggregated. Fighting illness at a daycare is an exercise in futility until all the kids have built all the immunity they need to ward off the bug of the week. I often wonder if any of these children will ever be sick as older children or young adults having experienced so much exposure in daycare.  Maybe the illness saturation in daycare facilities will eventually result in my class illness policy becoming obsolete.

So, back to the point, that is where my vulnerability lies – in my darling girl who goes to daycare. This go-around, the flu that I was fairly sure would kill me by midweek, resulted in a promise to myself and God that if I lived I would be a better steward of my own health in the future when it comes to the Germinator.

Well, I did live. By my own estimation I barely lived, but then again it has been a long time since I have had the flu and been that sick. I try and get a flu shot annually so I can avoid what I perceive to be potentially near-death experiences. Unfortunately, I blew it this year. That recognition hit me around day three when I realized I was dealing with something quite different than I thought.

By the end of it all I spent seven days crawling between my bed and the bathroom.  There were copious amounts of moaning and groaning and self-pity abounded. I did not shower at all for four of the days and even when I finally showered I only did so to un-mat my hair. I looked bad, I smelled bad, and I was a pitiful example of defeat. But I have come out on the other side. I am upright again and my appetite is coming back (not that I lost any appreciable weight during the week of little eating – that seemed very unfair).  I am ready to chalk this up as a horrible reminder of what happens when you have a Germinator nearby and don’t get your annual flu shot – it wasn’t pretty my friends.

As for our little Germinator, well her mother says she is doing okay, but the rest of the family is in varying states of recovery.  I am going to wait until I am back to full health before I hazard another round with our powerful little carrier.  I know that her cuteness always trumps the potential threat and I am close to powerless to turn away from a smiling, giggling toddler, particularly one who knows me as Grandma.

Another day in the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C