Katerina came home sick from preschool yesterday. She had laid down and fallen asleep about 30 minutes after I dropped her off. I noticed her being pretty whiny while we were getting ready, but there was no fever or signs of a cold or anything. Still, illness was incubating! When I got her home, her fever was 100.8 degrees.
I’ve had a lot of sick kids over the years and it’s such a tough thing to see them not feeling well. I want them to get better fast! I am a retired Family Nurse Practitioner, so, while I feel bad when my kid feels bad, I don’t overreact. They get plenty of care and sympathy, but they don’t get to linger if I can help it. My kids tease me about my stock phrases…. if they’ve gotten hurt, I’ll say, “Is there any blood?” “Yes? Put a bandaid on it.” Are there any broken bones sticking out?” “No?” “Go elevate it and put ice on it and we’ll see how it feels in the morning.” I can drag that out for a few days if I can tell that it’s something that just needs a few days to heal. Often times, even if there is not any blood, I’ll tell the younger ones to put a bandaid on it. Bandaids are gold for curing owies (and they are relatively cheap)!
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However, when a cold and/or fever jumps in, I will never say, “Well, lets see how it feels in the morning.” I am a firm believer in staying home, sleeping and drinking a lot of fluids. But there have to be real signs of a viral or bacterial invasion. I DO NOT let my obviously sick child go to school (or work) and spread germs. That is just bad form! But I also am pretty firm at them showing up for their commitments (school or work) unless they are obviously spreading germs. “I don’t feel good” is a hard thing to navigate with foster kids (all kids, I’m sure), because I want to honor emotional “not feeling good,” too. Mental health sick days are important! But I also can’t have them navigating their way out of important things. My rule of thumb is that if they miss school or work, they are obviously not well enough to go to their favorite basketball practice or to the mall with friends. “I feel better now” does not usually work with me.
Back to Katerina with her obvious virus. I let my kids’ fevers burn until they are over 101.0. Why? Fever is our body’s natural way of killing germs. Burn off those little invaders!!!! The exception is if the fever is interfering with sleep. Sleep is another of our body’s natural way of healing. It helps gather our resources to fight off the germy invaders. Fluids are the other critical piece. Did you know that a well hydrated body does not actually kill the germs? But viruses and bacteria reproduce more easily and rapidly in a dehydrated state, so by keeping a lot of fluids on board, we are slowing up the reproduction of the germs. In other words, we are preventing baby germs. If we can slow down the germy population growth, our natural defenses… all those white blood cells and antibodies can do a faster job at slaying the reduced numbers of nasty little invaders.
The tricky part for my kids (and I’m sure, most kids) is that when they are laid flat with fever and fatigue, they don’t really want to drink fluids (or eat much). This is where I start to get creative. How to get kids to drink fluids? Especially stubborn little girls? We make things special. I’ve used a variety of ‘tricks of the trade’ to push fluids. Yesterday and today, my champagne flutes worked. I received a good supply of these special glasses when I inherited my mother’s small china cabinet. The kids LOVE these champagne flutes. We bring them out at birthdays (which happens about once a month around here with all these kids) and serve sparkling cider. But we also bring them out when someone gets sick. It is special to use them and my sick Katerina enjoyed clinking glasses with me yesterday to get a lot of water down her. But it is special for the other kids, too. If those nasty germs made it into the house, chances are, it will fly through the family. You cannot have 8 people living in a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom house and not spread germs. So…. EVERYONE starts drinking a lot more fluids to slow down any probable germ population growth in their own bodies. And the kids comply, because I allow more juices and flavored drinks than usual. Nothing with caffeine, because that makes you pee more, which draws out fluids instead of adding fluids, but even pop and chocolate milk are allowed (and yes, I go buy them) for a couple of days in the interest of reducing germ reproduction. So I’ve loaded up on juice and milk and Hershey’s chocolate syrup (even chocolate milk is delightful in a champagne flute!) for the next couple of days.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings. CHEERS!