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Andrea's column: The bug

Despite my best efforts and those of my husband to prevent it, the flu snuck into our house last Wednesday. A cockroach could not have been less welcome.

My husband had come home from work that day at the same time he usually does. I was working at the computer in the den and when I heard the door open, I hollered out a hello and reminded him to wash his hands, something we do whenever we come into the house.

A bit later, we watched a favorite television show and ate dinner. As always, my hubby cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher. Nothing unusual there, but an hour-and-a-half later, he got up from his chair and said he didn't feel well. He would go into the guest bedroom in case he was coming down with something.

I advised him not to set the alarm clock; that he would probably feel a lot better if he got as much sleep as he needed. That perhaps he should stay home on Thursday.

My husband has always prided himself on showing up at the office when he was "under the weather." As he left the room that Wednesday evening, I told him going to work when you're sick is no longer considered admirable.

"People don't want their coworkers coming into the workplace and spreading germs," I told him. He dismissed me with a weak wave of his hand. And a cough.

Six o'clock the next morning, the time by which he is always awake, my better half was sound asleep. No sense waking him by making noise, I reasoned, and went back to bed. Three hours later, he was sill curled up under a blanket and a comforter. Just as I had when my children were small, I walked over and stood next to him to make sure he was still breathing.

He stayed home that day. He coughed, was achy, got too warm, too cold, and he slept. When he was up, I warned him not to touch anything -- the refrigerator, faucets, a handle on a kitchen cupboard, a door knob -- unless he first washed his hands and then used a paper towel to touch whatever he came into contact with.

Later that night and the night after, we replayed Wednesday's scenario. He went into the guest room not long after dinner. I repeated the warning that he shouldn't go into work until he was 100 percent. He waved me off and said he would see how he felt when he woke up.

That wasn't all that was repeated. "Wash your hands," became my mantra. If he started to put his hand anywhere near his face, I yelled out, "Stop. Don't touch your face. That's how bad germs spread."

After four days in the sick bay, he went back to work armed with alcohol wipes to use on the phone on his desk. "Don't shake hands with anyone," I pleaded. "And come home early if you don't feel good." He raised his arm and gave a little wave. One that said he was a big boy now and would be fine out in germ city.

I couldn't help myself. "Wash your hands," I shouted. Wash them a lot but don't touch the faucet."