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Oink, Oink, Cough, Cough

June 4, 2009
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The test results came back. Not mine, of course. No money and no insurance. But since I was the only sick person my boss was exposed to, it stands to reason that he got it from me. Survey says: We had influenza strain H1N1 — swine flu. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first. I survived swine flu and all I got was this lousy blog entry — well, that’s not entirely true. I get to feel terrible that I gave my boss the swine flu, as a result of which he developed mucus plugs in his lungs because he doesn’t have the strength to cough effectively. We’re calling it a “pulmonary phlegmbolism.” Yay for gallows humor. There’s nothing wrong with his immune system: the flu in and of itself affected him no differently than it did me. The major concern is the breathing trouble he’s been having as a result of all the mucus and phlegm. He’s been in and out of the hospital several times now. It’s a real roller-coaster ride. He seems greatly improved, comes home, and a few days later he’s rushed back. For other friends of his who are learning about his status via this blog, there was a bit of a serious scare yesterday, but that crisis is past and he’s being watched with eagle eyes in the ICU. His father is confident that he’ll get through this one way or another.

Now that I’ve finished hijacking this entry: All this panic over swine flu for nothing? I wouldn’t say for nothing. H1N1 is brand-new as far as the human immune system is concerned, and we had no idea what to expect. I don’t think it was completely irrational to be scared. We essentially lucked out that H1N1 turned out to be similar enough to the flu strain we’re more familiar with that its actual impact fell far short of the worst-case scenarios we fearfully imagined. Yes, they were reporting fatalities, but influenza in general leaves a certain percentage of fatalities in certain demographics. I don’t think swine flu will be statistically worse. I’m just lucky that I and my friends are in the flu’s non-fatal demographic. Heck, even Patient Zero, a five-year-old Mexican boy, has recovered and has returned to life as usual. My boss’s brother, who also got sick, is back at work now, and my boss’s father somehow didn’t get sick at all, despite his close and lengthy exposure.

I’m reasonably sure I’ve never had the flu before, and almost positive I missed my flu shot this past autumn, so I’m vaguely amused (in a purely intellectual, after-the-fact sort of way) that my first experience with the flu was this. Based on what I’ve heard influenza can be like, it seemed relatively mild. Yes, I had the fever and the fatigue and the body aches (not to mention the headaches and the eyeball aches) and the depressed appetite, but I didn’t feel as though I’d been hit by a truck, as I’ve heard it described. I had a brief bout of diarrhea, but to be honest, I had a far, far, far worse bout a couple of months ago after eating something that seriously disagreed with me. And unlike that miserable experience those months ago, I did not have any vomiting. The closest I came was a bit of retching after a serious fit of coughing, but that’s an entirely different mechanism and doesn’t count (it wasn’t nausea but deep, heavy, protracted coughing that engaged the stomach muscles that triggered the retching). The thing that gets me the most about my illness is that while the coughing was the first symptom to appear and is tenaciously being the last to go away, the excessive nasal drainage started late and ended early. Almost every cold I’ve ever had was accompanied by far more nose-blowing than this swine flu was.

I also managed to recover in about seven days without the benefit of prescription medication. On the advice of a nurse I spoke with at a clinic, I took some vitamin C, echinacea, and Cold-Eeze (the active ingredient of which is zinc), and kept up my fluid intake. (On a side note, Sundown brand echinacea comes in openable capsules, which can be poured out and brewed as a tea. It tastes pretty good, although since it doesn’t dissolve, it requires frequent stirring.) The only question remaining to me is where the heck did I contract swine flu? I haven’t been to Mexico; I haven’t even been out of state. I calculate my date of exposure to be Sunday, May 17th, when I was at a large baby shower. The only person there who I know had been sick was the mother-to-be, but she insists it was just a chest cold. There certainly were enough people there that someone could have been sick without my knowing it. Crowd magic, I guess.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    June 4, 2009 2:58 pm

    Wow! I never knew anyone with Swine Flu, before! Seriously, glad you are feeling better.

    • June 5, 2009 12:46 am

      Thanks. I didn’t know it was swine flu until afterward. The test results were delayed party because they were sent to a different lab and party because of Memorial Day. And partly because the tests were on my boss, not me, and I was starting to get better by the time he made his first trip to the hospital. I was honestly surprised that it turned out to be H1N1. If the tests had said regular flu, I wouldn’t have argued.

      If I’m harping on the subject of my boss, it’s because I’m worried about him and feel responsible for his current health problems. He’s only my boss through a technicality. I mostly think of him as one of my best friends, the little brother I never had.

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