ML: When did you learn your son was sick?
Anne: Michael called me late Monday afternoon. I was in the car on my way home from taking my 3-year-old to the pediatrician. He sounded awful and said, "Mom, I am really sick." He's not one to complain, so if he said he was sick, he's sick. He said he felt like he was going to die. I asked him what was wrong and he started listing the symptoms that I had seen earlier on the news for the swine flu. I told him to go to the university wellness center immediately. The nurse and doctor treated him and then got on the phone with me. They said he was very ill and did have symptoms of the swine flu. To be sure, they sent him to the emergency room to be tested and treated.
ML: When did you decide to pick up your son from school and bring him home?
Anne: He called me from the hospital and I asked him if he wanted me to come and get him. He said yes, so I went to pick him up and bring him home. I knew he was really sick.
ML: What was your reaction when you heard your son had the swine flu?
Anne: I was very worried and really scared at first. I didn't hear of any other cases in Illinois, so I didn't think he had it, but he tested positive for Influenza A. The swine flu is a derivative of the Influenza A virus. His labs were sent to the CDC for confirmation.
ML: Were you worried Michael would infect you, your husband, or other 2 children?
Anne: I was! Michael came right home and went up to his bedroom. My other two sons have had no contact with him whatsoever. I am more worried about them getting it from me because I am the only one who has had contact with Michael, since I have been taking care of him. I am very worried about them getting it, but we have taken every single precaution.
ML: What precautions are you and your family taking?
Anne: Michael is in his room and has not come out -- he has a bathroom in his room, so he doesn't need to leave. I am the only one that has gone in there. When I go in, I wear a mask and I use a gel hand sanitizer. After leaving, I scrub my hands for 30 seconds. My hands are so dry from washing them. I go into his room about 5 times a day to bring him his food, take his temperature, or visit him. I don't touch him and stand at a distance. My family is also taking Tamiflu for prevention. We got it from our doctor.
ML: Are you able to hug or touch your son? Or come into contact with him?
Anne: I don't touch him. I stay at a distance. The closest I get is when I hand him the thermometer. It's hard because I want to hug him.
ML: Do you have any idea how Michael could have contracted this virus?
Anne: We don't know. They were trying to figure it out with the health department. They asked him questions -- he hasn't been to Mexico, and he doesn't know anyone who has visited Mexico. There was an elementary school that closed down near his campus. A child contracted the virus, so it may have been someone in the area that infected him. When he got it, there were 9 probable cases.
ML: How difficult is it trying to take care of Michael, while also taking care of your other two children? How are you handling it all?
Anne: It's pretty difficult, but I am getting through. The main thing is they all stay healthy and I don't care what I have to do to ensure that. My company is letting me work from home -- they don't want me there either. It's not too bad ... Michael is pretty self-sufficient. I am trying to keep my little one away -- he wants to see his brother. He wants to go into his room and I won't even let him up the steps. He doesn't understand when I tell him Michael is sick.
ML: How have your community and friends reacted?
Anne: My friends and family have been very nice and supportive. We haven't been anywhere to get the community's reaction, but people we know have been nice. I have gotten a lot of calls of support from people I know, and I feel lucky to have a supportive family. If I need anything, I know they'll be right there.
ML: So many moms are worried about their kids. As a mom going through this, what do you want them to know?
Anne: I don't know anyone else personally who has had the swine flu, but with Michael's case, it's not as bad as the media hypes it up to be. They act like everyone is going to die from it. In the U.S., it's not as serious yet. Michael's symptoms only lasted a few days where he felt really awful. He got through it and he's improving. The flu symptoms last a while, but the worst of it was only a few days. I don't want to minimize anyone else's symptoms, and I can only speak from seeing Michael's case. Michael is older, so I imagine it would be difficult if he were younger.