Viral Incubators

Sitting in the doctors surgery 18 months ago with, what seemed like my 100th bout of a viral infection and several blood tests later, the doctors questions and diagnosis marked another learning curve for me as a Grandparent.

“How long have you felt unwell?” asked the doctor

“On and off for about 6-8 months now” I answered

“Mmm” she mused, “your chest sounds completely clear, there is no sign of infection and all

your blood tests have come back as normal”

“I just feel so tired, lethargic, just not myself” I replied

She sat quietly for a few seconds and then asked, “Do you have much contact with children?”

“Just a bit” I said, as I laughed, “I mind my twin granddaughters one day and my grandson


“And how old are the grandchildren?” she enquired

“All around two years of age” I replied innocently

“Ahhh”, she announced instantly, with clarity showing in every facial expression, “we refer to

that age group as viral incubators”

And so there it was, the cause for my ongoing health concerns were my own grandchildren. I didn’t see that one coming at all. Surely I’d already been there and done that with my own? Surely I was immune by now?…apparently not.

Having asked the doctor for her advice on how best to handle this unexpected diagnosis, I discovered I just had to accept it, with the reassurance that it would get better after a couple of years…what!! I hate to admit that her prediction was pretty much on the ball and I’m still experiencing life with those adorable viral incubators…I type this smiling and coughing.

So here’s my self prescribed advice, PROTECT and PACE yourself.

Protect yourself with good quality supplements all year round. You can access them on line cheaper than in some health shops, but I would advise getting personal one on one advice from a well informed person rather than guessing what your body needs. At different ages we need different things, and we need the right amounts for it to have any significant impact, so do take the time to get the best advice you can. It isn’t cheap to buy, but it’s worth giving up some of our chocolate, cake or alcohol money to keep ourselves as fit and well as possible.

Pacing ourselves is just as important as taking supplements, whether we’re feeling on top on top form or not. However much we still want our bodies to function like the 19 year old brain we still live in, they just don’t. So let’s be realistic about the amount of hours we can do childcare for, and what we can offer to our grandchildren during those hours. I KNOW…easier said than done.

Any parent who genuinely appreciates what we do for them, will understand that we can’t sustain the same 4 hour stint in a soft play area as they might be able to, and we might just need to use CBeebies for 15 minutes while we down a coffee and get our energy back. We may have to say ‘No’ to babysitting because we’ve had too many evenings out and we need to re-energise our batteries, or just connect with our husband/wife.

The grandchildren themselves are pretty good at understanding that we aren’t quite as agile as their parents. I’ll leave you with a fond memory I have from last year. My granddaughter was just about to ask me to get involved in a physical activity (my age hinders me from remembering what it was!) but stopped herself and said, “Nanny have you got your back belt on?”


Nanny J

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