Unfortunately, the flu is a particularly hot topic at the Wittekind homestead because Fred tested positive for influenza yesterday. Our situation inspired me to share some random thoughts that might be useful — or at the very least, interesting — to my readers. I will say this though; if you’re expecting me to say, “Wash your hands and cough into your elbow,”, you’ll be disappointed.
According to one story, influenza has claimed the lives of 40 Hoosiers during this year’s flu season. Every time we turn on the TV, we hear how “the flu is ‘targeting’ Hoosiers”. And if you listen long enough, you might start to believe that we’re on the verge of some horrible epidemic.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not minimizing the flu’s impact on our lives, nor do I mean any disrespect to the families who’ve lost loved ones because of the flu. I would, however, like to put things into perspective.
I did a little research, and I did a little figuring. In 2010, 32,885 souls were lost in fatal car crashes on U.S. roads. That means that Americans were dying at a rate of about 10.65:100,000. Given that Indiana’s population in 2010 was 6,483,802, approximately 691 Hoosiers would have died in car crashes.
So what’s my point? We’re much more likely to die in car crashes than from the flu, yet to hear the media tell it, you’d think otherwise.
With all that being said though, it’s my opinion that people are suffering needlessly from the flu. Too many folks don’t think about the role they play in making others sick. Employers insist that folks come to work sick. Employees go to work sick because they can’t afford to stay home. Kids go to school sick because parents can’t afford to miss work when their children are sick. And of course, sick folks run errands that should have been left for another day.
So what do I think we ought to be doing during flu season?
PLAN — Too many people in this country lead an on-demand lifestyle. They get food when they need it, they get fuel when they need it, and they refill their medications after they’ve taken the last dose. This “by the seat of your pants” mentality doesn’t work at all when you leave for work with the intention of dropping by the grocery store on the way home, but by the end of the work day, you’re incapacitated by the flu.
Lay in some supplies so that if you find yourself unexpectedly sick, you can stay home. And if you’re the one who does the cooking for your family (like I do), make sure that you have a decent supply of easy-prep foods that your family can fix without you. I learned this last spring when I was down with the flu. I was incapable of taking care of myself, let alone my family, and I discovered that gap in our planning here. Not fun, for sure.
STAY HOME — When you’re sick, don’t “share the love”. When the flu knocks you on your behind, you won’t be able to push through the worst of the symptoms. Too often though, folks take fever reducers, they start to feel better, and then they go back to work. If you need a fever-reducer to keep you fever-free, you’re still shedding virus and making other folks sick. My kids’ school’s policy is 24 hours without a fever before they can return to school. Yesterday, my husband’s doctor told him that he had to be fever-free for 48 hours before returning to work.
We have to think about others when we’re sick. Many folks have compromised immune systems or health conditions that make them more susceptible to complications from a cold or the flu. All the hand-washing, disinfecting, and supplements in the world won’t guarantee anything. Take some responsibility and stay home!
FOOD & SUPPLEMENTS — We are what we eat. If we’re stressing our bodies with food-like substances (processed junk that isn’t real food), and we’re depleting nutrient stores with stress, inflammation, food sensitivities, poor sleep, and the like, we’ll be more likely to get sick when the opportunity presents itself.
In addition to quality food, we keep certain supplements on hand that we increase if we’re sick. We find vitamin D-3, shark liver oil, fish oil, zinc, and vitamin C particularly useful. We’ve also always had amazing results with Zicam. If we’re not being as consistent with our supplements as we should, we can start the Zicam at the first sign of illness, and without fail, our colds and flus are always shorter-lived. (And yes, unfortunately, I do have a source for comparison. That’s why I stock extra Zicam as part of my preps.)
We humans can’t sanitize the world. Regardless of what we do, we’re going to get sick. By using our heads though, we can make it easier on ourselves and the people around us.