H1N1 – The Pandemic

November 25, 2009

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What do you call H1N1 in your house? H1N1? Pig Flu? Swine Flu? Hini Flu (Doesn’t H1N1 look like HINI?) After the last couple of months, we’re referring to it as Hell.

Those of you that read my last article know that I have a family of four. I’m blessed to have Kimberly (my wife), two beautiful daughters and me. My daughters are six (Kiley) and four (Kayla). Kiley is a first grader and Kayla is in her 2nd year of preschool at our church.

Kiley was the first person in our home to experience the early signs of H1N1. She came home from school with the trademark H1N1 cough and then diarrhea. A day later, Kayla shared in the misery. After the first day, H1N1 really turns on its charm. The high fever started with numbers reaching up to 103.7 and body aches unrivaled by any flu before. I remember hearing Kiley crying so I went to see what was wrong with her only to find that she was crying in her sleep. This continued for nearly a week. Both girls suffered extreme exhaustion, headache, body aches, coughing, fever, diarrhea and extreme irritability. My wife picked up a very low grade fever (around 100-101) and a resilient cough.

The girls slowly improved and at around the 10 day mark they were good enough to go back to school. At this point we learned that Kiley’s class of 23 kids had only 8 children in class during part of her absence. I wondered why no classes were cancelled and the school continued as planned.

During this fiasco I remained symptom free and was starting to feel invincible to this “Pig Flu”. Could I possibly avoid this? I had watched my entire live in family suffer through it and I was feeling a little guilty. I wasn’t taking any chances though. I doubled my multivitamin intake and started taking Emergen-C three times each day. I was also very nervous because I had tickets for the Nebraska vs. Texas Tech football game which was in Lincoln. I had non-refundable hotel reservations and plans with some of my college buddies that (I thought) I couldn’t miss. My plans were to leave on Friday morning about 6:00 am.

Wednesday night I began to feel extremely fatigued, soon I had a headache and body aches started. I went to bed hoping I would continue to fight it. I woke up Thursday morning about 3:00 am freezing and burning up at the same time, my back felt like my wife had been punching me in the back all night and I couldn’t get comfortable in bed no matter how I laid. I spent all day Thursday sleeping and wrapped in blankets. My fever was above 103, I had chills, horrible body aches and I noticed that I felt short of breath just going up one flight of stairs.

I was taking Ibuprofen every four hours and Acetaminophen two hours after the Ibuprofen. Friday morning I woke up and my fever had broke. This is where I got stupid … very stupid. I called my buddy to see if he still wanted to drive to Lincoln. I told him my fever broke but that I had H1N1. We talked about the “24 hour fever free” rule, but being a sports fanatic, he was in anyway.

We drove to Lincoln, drank, ate and had as much fun as possible. Saturday my buddy came began to get symptoms of H1N1 and we both struggled through the football game. Sunday we drove home to our families as sick as ever. My fever came back and continued until Tuesday. I started feeling better then but stayed out of work that week so I didn’t give it to anyone else. The shortness of breath continued and 6 weeks later is still haunting me.

After being H1N1 free except for the shortness of breath for a few weeks, I came down with a terrible sinus infection and possibly bronchitis. I worked from home so I didn’t make anyone else sick. Then I went to see my doc a few days later. He didn’t think it was bronchitis but plenty of sinus infection to go around. My cough was horrible and shortness of breath was worse. I learned that after H1N1 hits you with the flu, it leaves your upper respiratory system in a weakened state. You’re very susceptible to colds, infections and pneumonia.

I’m now 5 days through a 10 day course of antibiotics and can’t wait to feel better. My cough is much better but I have a lot of improving to do. Kiley, my six year old went back to the pediatrician with a horrible cough and stuffy nose. She was diagnosed with Pneumonitis; I’ve been told that is essentially the beginning stages of pneumonia. 

I asked Kosmo if I could share my experience so that people would realize how rough this illness is. It isn’t a 24 hour flu and it isn’t necessarily over when the flu leaves. This is a horrible flu, especially for the kids. The body aches scare them to death and they are severe. The high fever wreaks havoc on their little bodies. For the parents, if you’re lucky enough to avoid it you’ll be saying, “I’m so sick of sick people.” (Quote taken from my wife Kimberly)

Please follow the CDC guidelines on prevention, be courteous and cough into a tissue or your elbow. Stay home if you’re sick or keep your kids home if they’re sick. This pandemic has forced me to change the way I think about illness. I don’t wish this on anyone and I feel bad that I didn’t adhere to the 24 hour fever free rule. This has changed my view on flu forever.

I don’t ask much, but if you haven’t already been sickened by H1N1 and you haven’t been vaccinated, just do it. You’ll thank yourself later.



Swine flu discussion

May 2, 2009

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The intent of this post is to encourage people to share their thoughts on the swine flu.  I’ll start with my own.

Should we be afraid?

Sure, we should be somewhat afraid of a virus for which there is not currently a a vaccine.  There is, however, a fine line between preparedness and paranoia.  Just because a person has visited a location where there are verified cases does not mean that person will contract the swie flu. In fact, the odds are strongly against it.  Let’s take New York City, for example.  If there was one person with the swine flu in NYC and you traveled to NYC, what are the odds of you coming into contact with the person?  Not very good.

Mortality rate

People are dying from the swine flu; this is definitely true.  However, I really don’t think we are looking at the second coming of the black plague.  In fact, I seriously doubt that the death count will even be as high as the number of annual deaths from normal flu viruses (about 35,000 per year in the US.)

Pork products

The swine flu is an airborne virus.  You simply cannot get it from eating pork products.  There is no reason to avoid eating pork products (and, indeed, there are many good reasons to continue eating pork – the sensational taste of bacon being one great reason.)

How to avoid it

In general, people are being strongly encouraged to wash their hands frequently.  People who are sick – even if they do not have the swine flu – are being asked to stay home.  Doctors are being asked to test their patients if they have any reason to believe that the person might have the swine flu.  All of these are great suggestions, albeit simply a repitition of common sense. What is my point?  You should definitely be vigilant, but don’t go into panic mode.  This is not a disease that is going to wipe humanity from the face of the earth.

What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear them – please leave a comment.