This flu doesn’t give a darn about flu shots

Are We There Yet?

Lori Clinch

My good friend, Trixie, called the other day to report that her family had the flu.

“I suffered for two days,” she said with great sorrow. “Then the next thing I knew, Earl was curled up on the couch with a thermometer and a washcloth, and it wasn’t long before little Julie was calling for the dinosaurs.”

“Dang,” I replied, “it sounds simply awful.”

“Oh, it is,” said Trixie. “It’s the worst we’ve ever had. Has your family had it yet?”

I cringed with fear and commenced to knock on every piece of wood within my reach. “No,” I replied, barely above a whisper, “just your basic cold and cough.”

“Well, you’d best get on your knees and pray, girl. Hope against all hope that this flu doesn’t come your way.”

“I don’t think we should be too worried,” I said, even though I knew I could be jinxing myself. “We’ve all had the flu shots.” Granted, I was doing little more than drawing the attention of the gods of influenza, but dadgummit, I’d taken precautions. After the family suffered with respiratory illness in December, I became the queen of preventative medicine. I took them all in for flu shots. I’d braved the cold, the chaos, the lines, and paid good money for the old needle in the arm. “This,” I said to the cranky man who stood in line behind my fighting boys, “is my insurance against sick days for the remainder of the winter.”

I enjoyed a false sense of security right up until the moment Trixie dropped the bomb on me. Without skipping a beat, she dumped the mother lode and decimated my capacity to cope. I swear that clouds covered the sky and the room went dark as she whispered in a sinister voice, “Oh, the flu shot doesn’t cover this flu. No sir, this flu and any flu of the gastrointestinal variety can just waltz in the door as if they had their own key card.” She was in the middle of offering statistics and information on flu strains and viruses when I slammed the phone down on her.

The flu shot doesn’t protect against the flu, indeed. Is it just me, or does that one just floor ya?

I locked the young’ns in the house post haste. We turned down play dates, dinner invitations and trips to the mall. We practiced hand-washing techniques, bathed in antibacterial soap, and when I laundered, I wore a respirator mask, rubber gloves and thick goggles.

We did our best, but it was like trying to hold back a wall of water.

“No fair!” I heard one of the kids shout out as he stood outside the bathroom door. “How come he always gets to have the flu?”

“What are you boys doing?” I asked.

“Lawrence is in there and pretending like he’s sick.”

“Yeah,” added little Charlie, “he’s faking. He just wants to stay home from school.”

“I’m going to call your teacher and tell her that you’re playing hooky,” said Huey as he banged on the door. “It’s no fair that he gets to have the flu and we have to go to school.”

With the help of energy drinks and a good dose of mothering, I had Lawrence back on his feet in less than 24 hours. I put all of the other children on full watch and kept my antiviral herbs on standby. Almost a week had passed and I was beginning to think we’d made it through the rest of the epidemic unscathed. I was about to put away my antibacterial sprays and toss my respirator mask when my oldest showed up early from golf practice. He threw the door open with a bang.

“That,” he said as he slumped against the wall, “was not a good idea.”

“What?” I responded. “What do you mean? You’re not sick, tell me you’re not sick cuz I know you can’t be sick. It says right here in Brunnel’s Rules of Viruses and Gastrointestinal Afflictions that if you haven’t been hit within 48 hours after the initial exposure to your brother, then you can’t be sick!”

“Oh,” he replied as he fell to the couch, “I’m sick all right. In fact, my stomach is rolling like a ship on a stormy sea.”

Darned if that doggoned flu virus didn’t hit every member of the family. It left no one untouched except for little Charlie. Untouched, that is, until yesterday, when he walked in looking weak and pale. He dropped his book bag, and on his way to the bathroom, he hollered out, “How come you make us get the flu shots if we’re still going to have the flu?”

I try to be the queen of preventative medicine, and this is the thanks I get.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” Her e-mail address is