Posted by: zhak39 | October 5, 2009

Pandemic in Focus

After six weeks our office phones have been installed and my first phone call…

From my son. In the middle of his school day, the middle of my work day.   Couldn’t have planned that one better!

“Mom?” he asks.

“”Hi Sweetie.  What’s going on?”

“Remember my friend that you took home from a show in Burlington last summer with her cousin to somewhere in McLeansville?”

“Yes, well I remember doing that. ”

“Could you come to school and pick her up?  She has a really bad fever and she’s throwing up all over the school.”

May I interrupt one moment?  This is typical.  My kids don’t hesitate to reach out on behalf of their friends, in sickness, in sadness but also in happiness and for fun.  I have been asked by teenagers to just be there as they shivered and sweated fevers.  I have been spontaneously hugged in fits of  untraceable exuberance.  I am sure his friend’s parents are out of town or work too far away or for some reason are not immediately accessible.  He thinks nothing of putting a contagious puking person in my car.  Neither do I.

“One of her parents has to give verbal permission to the school for me to pick her up.  Have her call someone and then call me back.”

A few minutes later the phone rings again.

“Her father is finding someone to pick her up.”

“OK.  Make sure she has some water, will you.”

I hear a voice in the background–“tell your mother I love her.”  I feel tears.

“Tell her I love her, too.”

Several minutes later, another phone call.  There was no one to pick her up.  Her mother would call the school and could I come?

“Twenty minutes.”

The dean by that time had caught enough of one side of the conversation to know what was going on.  He was standing by my desk for the last call.  He looked at the small garbage can I had picked up from under my desk, for ‘spillage.’

“You haven’t gotten a flu shot, have you?” he asked.

The dean is a chemist, as in better living through chemistry.  That’s why he’s the dean.

“If she has the flu, it’s not the one their vaccinating for right now.  But I’ll give her some vitamin C and have some echinacea tea when I get back” because I believe in better living through a cuppa.  Then again, I haven’t had the flu in 12 or 14 years.

She was all right.  Her fever was coming down, her skin had that clammy feeling of oozy sweat just after a fever breaks.  She was tired but not so fatigued that she couldn’t talk.  She was gracious and thirsty.  I hope that this round of flu is mostly irritating and not miserable.  It’s going to be a long season this year.


  1. Zhak:

    Get the flu shot, if for no other reason than to assure your dean that you won’t be cold/clammy/nauseous or worse, not present when he needs you.

    Then in a couple of weeks, when the H1N1 vaccine comes out, get that as a “booster.” For the same reasons.

    Let’s face it: if you’re not up and about, many things are not going to get done. That may be by design, as in, “Nobody does it better than me so nobody should try,” or by default, as in, “Nobody does it, period.” Either way, you see my point.

    I don’t know about the remote wilds of North Carolina but, they’re giving out flu shots here like candy at a parade. There’s really no excuse, except that if your doc is out and you have to have it done at the grocery store pharmacy, or at Wal Mart, or at Walgreen’s, you’ll have to pay $25.

    But that’s a small price to pay relative to the cost in productivity — both at work and at home.

    If it makes you feel better, have the shot and then go home and replenish yourself with echinacea tea or sparrow urine or whatever you think works for dehydration.

    But get the shot.

  2. Not a chance, baby. The dean gets a flu shot yearly because when he gets the flu without the shot he ends up with pneumonia. I have had the flu once (twelve years ago?) and it was an excuse to actually get some rest.

    If this place can’t run without me I should be making more money.

  3. That response is so nonresponsive and elusive on so many levels that, I guess I’ll let it stand for itself.

    One thing is for sure: it makes absolutely no sense on any level.

  4. Hmmm. No deep hidden meaning there, Bill.

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