Hoping to breathe easier

We got through the fall, but cold and flu season seems to find us all eventually.

Like half the people reading right now, I’d wager, I’ve had a hacking cough for the better part of two weeks. So have my kids. And my husband. That’s after the congestion, the fevers, the perpetually sniffly noses. Rounds of antibiotics. Medication lists on our kitchen counter, with hash marks for doses. I love this time of year!

I’ve been on the probiotics train since last summer. After three different medical providers mentioned that I, with the stream of illnesses running through my household, might want to better protect myself . . . well, I stopped writing them off as a load of rubbish.

After falling down the rabbit hole of research, I ultimately chose one like any good millennial: based on the five-star Amazon reviews. In my defense, there were simply too many to compare any other way. (For the record, I also showed them to my doctor. She signed off.)

The brand I chose — aptly named “Immune” — were touted by other reviewers claiming to be school principals and teachers, daycare providers, and world travelers no longer afraid of street meats. I figured if it was good enough to fight off the germs our teachers surely face each day, it could give me a little advantage.

And it has . . . for the most part. I definitely have not been nearly as sick this winter, chewing through sick leave as quickly as I earned it (and then some). As the wife of a scientist, I’m compelled to add there could be many other factors for this, making the probiotic use simply coincidental: stronger kids bringing home less illnesses, better handwashing of said kids. Who knows? Regardless, I figure the pills can’t hurt.

The latest round of viruses has been a doozy, though. After the kids got taken out by a stomach bug a few weeks before Christmas, Spencer and I thought we had escaped . . . but he was taken down a few days later, and I was laid up the day after that.

I’m very thankful we got through the holidays and could join family and friends for our traditional get-togethers. But of course, after all that time “with other humans,” as my son would say, I know many of us shared more than good tidings. The runny noses started long before the New Year.

The kids have mostly recovered, thankfully. Though it’s unpleasant, I can deal with being sick myself; I’m an adult with NyQuil. I hate when Ollie and Hadley are sick. In addition to being up half the night checking temperatures and bribing them to drink down sickly-sweet pain relievers, the anxiety of it is something I still struggle to get under control.

Even five years after Ollie’s early birth and our hospital stay, the worry comes back instantly when the kids are not themselves. It was a traumatic start to parenthood that still resonates in how I parent during difficult times, but I’ve worked to get that stress under control. Working at a hospital has helped, actually. So has time.

After a week of trading off work days with sick kids at home, we’ve been back to a normal routine this week. I’m very grateful for that. As others have joked, you never appreciate how nice it is to breathe through your nose until you can’t.

My 4-year-old son feels the same way, apparently. At dinner on Tuesday, Oliver abruptly set down his fork. “Mommy, I just can’t stop coughing,” he said seriously. “I keep coughing from my coughing hose.”

These are the moments I never want to forget. Spencer, out of sight, immediately began to laugh. I tried keeping a straight face, but our son noticed my giggling.

“Oh!” Ollie said. “I mean my breathing hose.”

I know the feeling, kiddo. Let’s hope spring gets here quickly.

Twitter: @rightmeg