Kids and colds

Ugh. It’s been a week and I’m still too sick with bronchitis/sinusitis to work. I know exactly where I got it from, too.

Two weeks ago a friend of mine wanted to socialize. That would have been great, but her baby had a cold. I asked if we could postpone meeting in person until nobody in the family was sick. Well, last Saturday, supposedly everybody was over their cold, so we all met up at a coffee shop.

The first thing I noticed was the green mucus caked around the baby’s nose. At that point, I couldn’t leave without being incredibly rude, so I stayed. And despite assiduous hand-washing and avoiding touching my face, within 24 hours, I was producing industrial quantities of the same green gunk myself.

For the next few days I slept more than 18 hours each and didn’t have the energy to cook or even to read. After 3 days, I was organized enough to put the bread maker on one evening. The next morning I thought I must have forgotten to turn it on at night or that it was broken because I woke up at 11 — 3 hours after the bread was supposed to be ready — and the smell of fresh bread is usually better than an alarm clock. But the bread was ready. I just had no sense of smell or taste whatsoever.

It’s been a week now and I’m still on two forms of steroids to help me breathe (inhaler and nasal spray). I’ve been too muddle-headed to work. I had to cancel two dates.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve told friends — not just this friend, but other friends with kids — that I cannot see them when anyone in the family has a cold. I get the impression that most of them consider this to be a kind of paranoia. They largely don’t understand that I will get much sicker than their children. And that their kids are contagious even if they’ve “only got a runny nose now” and are “feeling much better than yesterday.”

The friend I met with last week still invites me to toddler parties and get-togethers at child play centres, even though I mention to her every time that I would prefer to see her in a context that doesn’t involve a large number of kids. I’ve repeatedly spelled out that at least one kid in a group is going to have some kind of cold, and young kids don’t cover their mouths when they cough, etc, but she just doesn’t get it. Maybe her longing for adult conversation overrides her ability to understand my concerns. I don’t know. But I worry that if I overtly connect the dots between the hour I spent with her and her sick child last week and the degree to which I have been sick this week, I suspect she’d be disbelieving, offended, or both.

It’s tough for me to draw the line as well. I don’t want to be a digital hermit — I miss seeing my friends in person, too. I also can’t say 100% that this virus came from my friend’s child, either, even though it’s pretty likely in this case.

Where to draw the line between socializing, with its risk of infection, and staying isolated and lonely, is never clear.

In short, I hate, hate, hate being immune-suppressed.

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