Linda Ballard

It was the year 2010 and it may have been an election year, but for me and my husband that year was far more significant in the fact both of us were diagnosed with Swine flu. No, we were not around pigs as most would think. However, we were in the food industry with a lot of people coming and going, from transients coming in to cut the broom corn fields and pick cotton to the oilfield workers, and we had gained the reputation of re-opening all hours of the night to accommodate crews who were called out in the wee hours of the morning.

At the first sign of illness, we stepped out and family and friends stepped in to keep it running. Grandparents took care of my then four-year-old. One visit to the doctor’s office for what we considered the dreaded penicillin shot to fix us up seemed to only complicate matters and, by the next morning, we were so sick we could hardly move. Calls went out to doctors for more help. Local doctors called big city doctors and the diagnosis was made. A quarantine sign was tacked up by the front door which threw us into further isolation. Along with the diagnosis also came raging fever and physical weakness.

The first couple of days my husband could still stand and between us both, we managed to keep linens clean and changed, but at one point, I actually crawled to the bathroom to get wet washcloths for our heads. My parents came by periodically each day and hollered at us through the bedroom window just hoping for a response. Finally, I heard my father say, “Open the window! Let fresh air in!” Little did he know it took both of us pulling ourselves up to the windowsill and pushing with all our might to raise it. I cried when I felt the coolness of the air. It was also the day I prayed for God to go ahead and let me die.

HE must have heard my plea and thought otherwise because HE answered me by sending one brave, pipe-smoking doctor to the door. He announced his visit by hollering and shoving the door open and commenced to the bedroom where he promptly gave us a B-12 shot. He returned the next day and said, “I am only supposed to give these once a week, but what have we got to lose — otherwise we bury you.” He came every day for a week to give us those shots and he watched us slowly regain our strength. Food was delivered by the local grocery store owners and soup; bananas and vanilla wafers became better than steak and potatoes to us. Two weeks after that awful quarantine sign went up, it went down thanks to that pipe-smoking doctor. We came to believe the pipe kept him from getting swine flu, too.

Looking back, I now realize our immune system was too run down to withstand the invasion of a “foreign” flu. We were young and thought ourselves invincible. Too many work hours; not enough rest and eating on the go. One other thing I learned — God does answer; just not always in the way we think.

Now I, like others, have laughed over the lack of toilet paper just like everybody else with the panic over the COVID-19, when there is no need to horde it just in case. How much do you need in two weeks? If you run out of wipes and hand sanitizer, use soap, water and rags dipped in bleach for cleaning like we did before those things were invented. More importantly, if you are tired, REST and boost your system with vitamins, fruits and vegetables and exercise precaution. If you are feeling bad — stay home. Why risk giving what you have to others?

PRECAUTION is the key word though and our Kilgore nursing facilities have stepped to the forefront to protect the elderly. If you step in to visit a family member, be prepared to be screened for the virus. Jim Kale, administrator at Arbor Grace, said, “Presently we are encouraging families to visit 7 to 7 daily. Each employee, family and visitors are screened to ensure the safety of our residents. With the exception of Hall 3 entrance, all other entrances are off limits.

We have sent letters and are making phone calls to our families, explaining what we know about the virus and what we are doing to protect our residents. We are communicating with our employees through emails and communication board about what to expect.

Protecting our residents and staff is our number one priority.

Our director of nursing, Georgina Lewis, RN is a member of the emergency task force and will be attending a meeting at College Station on Monday.”

The screening includes questions about travel, where and if you have been to any area that has positive COVID or had any interaction with U.S. residents that were quarantined. It also asks if you have had any symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath. Your temperature will be taken before being allowed to enter.

Strict rules apply — as I witnessed one woman turned away who entered this particular facility while running a fever and coughing after I had finished my screening. It may have truly been ‘’just allergies” since the pollen is now falling in East Texas, but why risk it? Do you have a neighbor sick? Deliver a care package on their porch; don’t insist on going in. If concerned, you can always stick in a roll of toilet paper. I am sure they will appreciate it.

SPRING SPRUNG EARLY last Thursday as ladies of Kilgore, Evergreen and Civic Garden Clubs donned their hats and enjoyed a tea party hosted by the Council of Garden Clubs. The event was held in the fellowship hall of the First Christian Church. Guest speaker was Paul Roberts, director of music and fine arts at First United Methodist Church, Longview. As “high tea or hot tea” was served he presented a program on the history of tea, according to Lawana Sistrunk, spokesperson for the group. She said, “It was so much fun!”

May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at or 903-984-2593.


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