A lesson from ‘Typhoid Daddy’

Published 12:12 am Saturday, January 5, 2013

For all of our lives, our father has never missed an opportunity to teach us something, or give us a new life experience.

He’s never been big on vacations, but if travel took us anywhere near a historical site, we needed to stop and learn about it. The same went for exposure to government, culture, or any other learning opportunity.

It is a habit he can’t seem to get over. But the lesson he taught us this Christmas may be one of the most important.

When he showed up at our family gathering last weekend, he had a cough. But it was really the beginning of the flu.

I can say this with sure certainty because the only ones of our family group who haven’t been sidelined or hospitalized by chills, aches, cough and fever this week are the ones who had had a flu shot, flu mist, or already had the flu this year.

I was not one of the wise ones. I hadn’t had the flu in decades and have never had a flu shot. But this year, a little voice in my head kept telling me to get a shot. I sure wish I’d listened.

The timing was impeccable. By the time we realized we had more than a cough, doctors’ offices were closed for the New Year’s holiday. When they reopened, we were past the 48-hour window when Tamiflu can help. Besides, I didn’t think I could get out of bed, much lessed get dressed and go anywhere.

Moaning seemed to make Honey feel better. He assured me he was dying, but he still needed to be served ginger ale, grilled cheese sandwiches, and chicken soup. Thursday, he thought he had it beaten back; Friday he relapsed.

Nationwide, the flu season started earlier this year, and the numbers are higher in the deep south. Sixteen states, including Alabama and her neighbors in every direction, are reporting “high” flu activity.

Locally, the ER and doctors’ offices were swamped, and at one point this week, flu tests were in short supply.

A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control said that the flu vaccination appears to be well-matched with the strain of flu that is rampant, meaning that those who have had the shot aren’t getting the flu.

So there’s our lesson from “Typhoid Daddy,” as I’ve been affectionately calling him this week, for this Christmas: Get a flu shot. He didn’t, and probably won’t ever. But he also taught us, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

The CDC says it’s not too late to be vaccinated this flu season. Please, learn from my mistake, and get to a doctor or pharmacist for a shot today.