They say you never forget the flu and Geelong mum Terri White is proof of that.
Three years ago the single mum of four found herself lying in her daughter’s bedroom unable to move after catching the flu virus. As a healthy person, Terri thought she’d be able to make it through winter without getting sick, until she did.
For Terri, the onset of the flu was sudden. While she had been feeling a little under the weather, her condition worsened very quickly.
“I remember getting out of bed in the morning and walking down my hallway. All of a sudden, I felt really faint,” she tells Mamamia. “I walked into my daughter’s bedroom and lay on her bed. I couldn’t move. I’m usually someone that can keep going when I’m sick because I have to, but my whole body was aching and I had a really bad fever. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick in my entire life.”
Terri was so fatigued she didn’t get out of her daughter’s bed for over 24 hours, not even to go to the loo. When she finally did get up, it took everything out of her and she was “absolutely exhausted” from just walking a few steps.
While Terri has never been good at asking for help (are any of us?), she says that as a single parent she had no choice but to ring a friend and ask for help with the kids.
“You don’t want to have to ask for help, but I couldn’t get up. I needed someone to supervise my kids and feed them. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do anything,” she says. “My son was only 15 months old at the time and I couldn’t leave the kids running around the house unsupervised. It was also really stressful trying to find help because my friends are all busy with their own kids.”
Terri’s greatest disappointment was having to miss her daughters’ dance concert, something she and the girls had really been looking forward to.
“The day I got sick my girls had their dance cabaret in the evening,” Terri tells us. “I had to ask a friend if she could take them. To miss my girls' performance was really disappointing. I’m normally a really attentive parent and I couldn’t be.”
After a weekend of feeling like hell, Terri had to get the kids to school, dance classes and other activities. Juggling work, study and being a single mum is hard at the best of times but when illness is thrown in the mix, it can all get too much.
While Terri managed to take time off from her job in disability services, she had to soldier on at home and at uni.
“When you have kids and you have the flu and you don’t have any family support, you don’t have a choice. You just have to get on with it,” she adds. “I mean, the flu is horrible for everyone but if you don’t have kids you can take a day off work and try to recover. As a mum, it doesn’t work like that, there are no sick days when you’re a parent.”
It took over two weeks for Terri to shake her fever and feel better.
“I never realised how easy it is to catch the flu,” Terri shares. “Healthy adults can infect other people for up to seven days after getting sick and the virus can live on surfaces like shopping trolleys and toilet buttons for 48 hours. We’re not taking any chances this winter.”
Last year there were a record number of flu cases just like Terri’s, with 48,000 confirmed in Victoria alone. Unfortunately, there were some deaths too.
To help families get through a flu-free winter, Victorians are now able to access free influenza vaccine for children aged six months to five years.
For more information on this year's flu vaccine, visit Better Health Channel.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner The Department of Health and Human Services.
For further information, please visit Better Health Channel.