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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The "F" word

I'm gonna use it. The "F" word -- the three letter one, that is. The FLU. There, I said it out loud. This H1N1 flu stuff is starting to scare the bejeezus out of me.

Earlier this week, a friend of a friend of my sister's passed away from complications of H1N1. She was in her late 20s, had a 9-month old baby. Then last night, I came across the Cheaper Than Therapy blog, where a mother is chronicling the story of her adult son's fight against this. And this morning my mom told me that someone I grew up with has been in ICU on a ventilator for three weeks with it.

I got my kids and myself the regular flu shot, but I was going to pass on the H1N1 vaccine. Too new, too untested, I told myself. But the more I hear about this, the more anxious I am about it. I keep checking our county health department site to find out when and where we can get the vaccine.

I sat my kids down this morning and gave them all a lecture about washing hands and covering coughs. I'm considering instituting a ban on sleepovers because those all nighters don't really do anything to help their immune systems.

The building where I work has a community health clinic on the first floor and WIC offices on the second floor. For the past 5 weeks, I've taken the stairs to my third floor office (no touching the handrails!) because I'm sure that there are fewer germs in the stairwell than on the elevator. Then I hit the hand sanitizer as soon as I get to my office to get rid of whatever germs might have been lurking in the stairway.

And the thought of germs on Halloween candy that gets handed out tonight? I think I just have to say a prayer about that because that just might push me over the edge.

I'm trying to temper my anxiety with the knowledge that we know several people who've had it who, while being really miserable for several days, have not had severe complications.

Are you concerned? If it's available, will you get the vaccine for yourself and/or your kids? Do you think giving the teachers decorator bottles of hand sanitizer for Christmas is a little over the top?


Momza said...

Oh Amy, I am so with you on this. I hate worrying about this so much, but it does freak my guts out!
I know people who've had it and gotten better, altho I've heard about those who dont' survive it at all.
I'm reading the riot act to my kids about washing their hands, taking extra Vit C, staying warm, and you know what? ALot of the neighborhoods are keeping their kids inside too.
We haven't gotten the shot and won't because it's the 1st year in production and I don't want to be a guinea pig for the pharmaceutical companies..but man, this is scary stuff.

Joanne said...

Amy with your young ones you have every right to be cautious. This darn bug hits everyone in different ways. I am scared for my 29 year old son and his girlfriend but not for myself. As you saw on my blog its the people that are taking the vaccine from others that really need it that has me ticked off.
Common sense will help us through this time but I know that doesn't help the mother whose healty son is now on a ventilator.

No you were NOT my Dear Blogger - not anyone that follows. I am just happy when I see your smiling face pop in when you do.

Adore you and your blog!!!

Sharon said...

Our dr actually recommended AGAINST the vaccine.
He said there is so much benefit to the natural immunity you build up to it, that if you get it once, it is very unlikely you'd get it ever again.

That being said, I can tell from your post that we are fortunate that our battle against swine flu wasn't too terrible.

My son and husband just went through it. It was exhausting, the cough was the worst, but definitely NOT the harshest virus we've endured.

Our dr said it can easily lead to respiratory infections, which is when it gets BAD. He gave us an Rx for antibiotic as a preventative measure, and it worked. I'd like to think that it works for more people than not.

In OUR experience, the media WAY over exaggerated the H1N1. And of course they did-it's their job to instill panic.

One thought to this:
ALot of the neighborhoods are keeping their kids inside too.

That may actually do more harm than good! I know I am not a dr, but from what OUR dr said, from the reading I've done, the sun's Vitamin D and fresher, cooler air is beneficial. Germs don't do as well in the uncontrolled cooler temps, as opposed to the trapped, thicker air inside the home.

Why keep them inside? Sure, keep them away from crowds of people, but inside? I don't see the point in that.

Panic does not good.
My prayers are with these people you posted about, but my belief is that their condition is more the exception than the rule.

Amy, do you think you had this at all in the 70's?

kimybeee said...

I work for a hospital(unit clerk) and I have chosen not to get the vaccine for myself or my kids. I got the regular flu shot on the first day we could get it at the hospital and my daughter got a regular flu shot too. I think the vaccine is too new, rushed into production, and not enough has been done to ensure safety of the vaccine.

With that said, a 14 year old boy died of h1n1 at my daughters high school. He was in good health. The excuse given was he had never really been sick before and his body became septic because it didn't know how to fight the flu. He had horses and rode dirt bikes, if that didn't expose him to enough, then maybe he should have had some dirt for dinner? Who knows. We had four people die including the 14 year old in our county.

Here the doctor offices and ers aren't even testing anymore, just telling people that is what they have and giving them tamiflu. That also spreads fear that the outbreak is much bigger than it probably is. We also had a woman arrested at a shot clinic that stole a vial and syringes to give her family the shots. They are only giving shots to pregnant people and kids here. A lot of the healthcare workers are being offered the nasal - which is a live virus.

It is up to you personally what to do, but if the number of people that died of the regular flu every year was posted, then those numbers would shock everyone as well. Just keep washing hands and do the things that you should do every day of the year to prevent the spread of sickness.

Nate's Mom said...

Hi Amy,

We had H1N1 here too. My 6 year old tested positive. He was the only one tested. But it made the rounds of our house. It was "the flu" congestion, cough, sore throat, aches. The dr said to treat with orange juice and chicken soup and let it run it's course.

They are not testing routinely here either. Nate's dr asked if I was planning to get him the vaccine and I told her I wasn't sure (for all of the reasons mentioned). She said they could test him and if he was positive then he would be immune and we wouldn't have to worry about the vaccine. That's how he got tested. I assume the rest of us had the same thing. It was much like the regular flu. I don't think I would have got the H1N1 vaccine either. but the regular yes. It's an annual tradition, lol.

As for pretty sanitizer bottles for the teachers: absolutely. Bath and Body Works has some yummy smelling sanitizers. The thing that gets me about sanitizers is the smell. I am a medical social worker and sanitize 25 times a day, lol. I think the B&B ones have mousturizer too, to keep you hands from drying out. Just FYI.

Sheri in CA

Johnny, Sarah, Christopher and Emmy Buckner said...

Hi Amy,

Christopher was diagnosed 3 weeks ago with H1N1! I was totally freaked out, but he quickly recovered. We took him to the doctor at the 1st sign of a fever, he tested positive, we got him on tamiflu and he was fine to go back to school less than a week later.

I just wanted to share a "success" story from H1N1.


Eternal Lizdom said...

We go in for Zach's 2 year check up on Tuesday and I will be talking to our doc about it and seeing what he recommends. Between his opinion, what I'm already leaning towards, and what my parents have shared (dad is a doc and mom was a dentist and is very medically inclined)... the next step is to decide how seriously we pursue it.

Shelley said...

In my county, health officials are not only having MAJOR trouble getting the H1N1 vaccine, but supplies of the regular flu vaccine are also in short supply. Our doctor's office runs out of them practically as soon as they come in.

My doctor also advised against H1N1, citing the newness of the vaccine and the need to develop our own immunities to the virus. She also pointed out that by the end of October (which we've already passed) the window for any protection we might receive is much, much smaller than it was back in, say, early September.

On the bright side, my doctor says "Wash your hands often, take ordinary precautions, and be brave." She says that most of the people who have had H1N1 just find that it makes you feel like poo on toast and then you get better.

My cousin Nicole, aged 26, had H1N1 and missed about five days of work with the coughing. My cousin Heidi, a freshman at Indiana University, had H1N1 and was hospitalized until her fever broke and then spent a few days at home catching up on class work before she went back to Bloomington.

Say some prayers and keep your chin up! Carry on with the hand sanitizer and the hand washing! Keep tissues on hand!

We shall overcome.

stewbert said...

My kids' doctor told me there's been too much hype in the media about it. I know people are getting sick and some are dying, but more people die annually from complications of the seasonal flu than have died from H1N1 thus far. The big things that you have to watch for if you get it are dehydration (this kills fast) and upper respiratory stuff, like pneumonia, that come on as a secondary infection. I think besides using good hygiene to avoid getting it at all, some of the deaths, at least, can be avoided if people are super vigilant about treating their symptoms so they don't get worse, and drinking plenty of fluids. If you can't keep fluids in, that's when you go get an IV. My friend's 6-year-old has H1N1 and had to get an IV for dehydration on Monday, but she's okay now. Still sick, but able to eat and drink again.

good luck. It's hard not be scared or worried.