IT’S officially Autumn Sick Week. No really, it’s A Thing. At this point in the school year, pupils and students start dropping like flies. Sick flies.
It’s got lots to do with timing. The weather turns cold and wet. Yet anyone still living with their parents refuses to go out in anything more than shirt sleeves. Then they come home to centrally-heated homes which circulate dry, warm, dusty air.
It’s just after half-term, when everyone has confused their immune systems with lie-ins and changing clocks. Thenthey get tipped back into the bug-soup of school or university.
A year ago at my part-time job at the university, someone warned me about this particular phenomenon. “Don’t get to settled thinking you’ve got good attendance rates, they’re about to plummet.” And sure enough, the students became less numerous. I thought it was just that they’d sussed me out and decided my waffling wasn’t worth getting out of bed for.
However, true enough, after a couple of erratic weeks the classes drifted back to normal sizes.
This November too, my mailbox is littered with excuses for non attendance (I’ve got stricter). They’re all ill and “going to the doctors.” Yeah, yeah, you’ve got a cold.
When two-year-old Bonnie became uncooperative and downright whingy at the end of last week, I should have twigged. She was, to use medical parlance, ‘going down with something’.
Sure enough, after a couple of days inexplicable whining, over the weekend she became the snot monster. Uncharacteristically clinging to my knee and depositing snail-trails of nose juice all over my clothes. Refusing food at mealtimes but demanding ‘jooce’ and ‘toaaast’ at sporadic intervals.
“I poorly,” she announced to anyone who tried to change her plan to lie on the living-room floor watching endless re-runs of Peppa Pig.
When children are ill, there’s often little more you can do than dose them up with Calpol, keep them warm if their cold and cool if their hot, make sure they drink regularly and cuddle them if they’ll let you.
Bonnie only usually wants cuddles if you’re hugging someone else. But when she’s ill she wants cuddles everytime she wakes in the night (which at the time of going to press was about 15 times a night). I put vapour rub in a bowl of warm water on a heater (out of her reach) to help her breathe, and resign myself to several nights of broken sleep. It’s like having a newborn in the house again.
You do have the option of calling the NeneDoc out of hours doctor’s service if your child’s temperature gets high and won’t come down with liquid paracetamol and fewer bed covers. But thankfully, most children are over the worst of a cold or a bug within a couple of days.
And of course, once they’re feeling better, that’s when everyone else in the house catches it, one-by-one. The tissues pile up and you’re forced to re-arrange your working hours to cope.
I’m anticipating my own cold will be caught in about a week’s time, just when I’ve taken on my busiest schedule of work this year. Ho hum.
Oh, and did I mention this is also a point in the calendar when everyone starts bringing home nits again?