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7-31-09 How Swine Flu Turns a Household Topsy Turvy - Dianne de Las Casas


It is the Day After. The day after we found out our 19 year old daughter tested positive for swine flu. Life is so far from “normal.”

At 10:00 a.m. this morning, I donned my blue surgical mask from the doctor’s office and checked on Soleil. She was snuggled underneath her comforter, snoring slightly, probably due to the fact that she cannot breathe through her nose and has to breathe entirely through her mouth. I touched her skin. No fever. Good sign. I sighed relief. I woke her up to take her medications. Tamiflu has to be taken twice a day. She also has to take Cheratussin (Robitussin with codeine) for the cough and mucus build-up. She grumbled and snuggled deeper. She was tired. Understandably.

It has only been a full day since the doctor diagnosed her and our household has been turned upsidedown. Soleil’s younger sister, Eliana, is now “residing” at my mom’s house. She is 9 years old and we wanted to minimize her exposure to the swine flu. Because I am Soleil’s primary caregiver, it is best for me to stay inside, cloistered in the house. So we Skype. “Mommy, I miss you! When can I come home?” she asks.

“Not yet,” I respond, aching to hold her, tickle her and hear her laughter in my ears. We make goofy faces at each other. My mom drops in to talk. Normally, this scene wouldn’t be out of the ordinary because I travel a lot. Except this time, we are Skyping and my mom lives only five minutes away.

“I love yooooooou!” Eliana yells as she blows kisses at the webcam. I love you too, baby, more than you know!

Antonio stayed home from work today. He’s not sick but his boss had concerns. Antonio works at a large medical center in downtown New Orleans. An outbreak of swine flu there would be horrendous. So he decided to work from home to minimize the risk to his employees.

Soleil has gone through a case a half of 16.9 ounce waters since yesterday, I kid you not. Like the Greek myth of Tantalus, Soleil seems to be incessantly thirsty and unable to quench her thirst. Of course, this is not a punishment but a side effect of her combined medications.

Earlier this afternoon, when I checked on Soleil, her fever had returned. It seems to ebb and flow like the tide, a reminder that her body is still fighting this menacing virus. More Ibuprofen 600.

I disinfected the doorknobs and Soleil’s bathroom again. This must be done on a daily basis. My hands are so dry from the constant hand-washing and sanitizing but it’s a small price to pay to stay as safe as possible. Soleil must remain quarantined in her room. If she enters the common area of the house, she wears a surgical mask. She doesn’t come out often. It’s too much trouble. She hates the mask. It makes her hot and fogs up her glasses. She is, though, making the best of these unfortunate turn of events. Though she is confined to her room, she stays connected with her friends by cell phone and laptop. And although she has a TV and DVD player in her room, YouTube is her constant companion.

If Soleil needs something, she calls me on my cell phone. It’s kind of comical since we’re under the same roof. Her voice is still weak and she can’t call out. I bring her hot soup, bottled water, and whatever else she needs. Tonight, my mom made a big batch of sotonghon (so-tong-HONE), a Filipino soup with chicken and rice noodles, laden with fresh ginger. Its very scent smells healing.

I haven’t been feeling very well so I helped myself to a big bowl of this warm, filling soup. Yes, Mom’s soup is nourishment for the body and the spirit! Mom also sent over a big basket of fresh fruit – oranges, nectarines, peaches and plums, a veritable summer orchard. Soleil ate three pieces of fruit. Normally, this is insignificant. But today, it is a milestone. She’s hungry. She’s eating. She’s holding it down.

We canceled all our family plans this weekend (a baby shower, White Linen Night in the New Orleans Arts District, and the movies). No Harry Potter for us. Luckily, we have streaming Netflix, a 50 inch TV, and a Blueray player. This can get my husband through any quarantine!

Yesterday, I contacted our hotel in Cancun, Dreams Resort and Spa regarding their “swine flu free guarantee” and their promise of three free vacations if you contract the swine flu while on vacation. They asked for the doctor’s report. Today, we obtained the official report and diagnosis from the doctor’s office and emailed it to the hotel. Now we’ll see if they honor their guarantee.

Before all this, the swine flu was just another current event in the news. No one we knew contracted it and we followed all the recommended precautions, so we didn’t expect our daughter to get sick. And we didn’t expect our entire household would be so affected. Never before has the flu spun us around like this!

But we wait and hope that Soleil heals quickly. I laughed when my friend Kelly Milner Halls said, “She’ll be a hero at school. She can say she beat the swine flu! She’s a current event.” And laughter is good medicine.

Until next time…

Warmly, Dianne

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Tags: A, Cancun, Casas, Dianne, H1N1, Influenza, Las, Mexico, de, flu, More…swine, travel


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