Monday, November 9, 2009

Back from the Front

A Swine Flu after-action report

Back when the only people who had 2009 Novel H1N1 Influenza were Mexicans, I don’t remember any immediate concern that I’d catch it. But when it was clear that Swine Flu was going to strike the US in a big way during the 2009-2010 flu season, I could see that my chances were improving. And when the Centers for Disease Control announced that the first wave of flu shots would arrive several weeks AFTER the H1N1 flu was due to begin raging through the country, I knew it was inevitable.

Sure enough, I spent the entire month of October calling the Onondaga County Health Department and my kids’ pediatrician in search of the vaccine to no avail. Not only didn’t anybody have it, they didn’t know when they would have it or when they’d know when they would have it. The casualty reports began to mount. Every day, my kids would come home from school and report about how many kids were out sick. We watched the class sizes at the karate dojo dwindle, to the point that, last Saturday, my kids were literally the only ones there. An hour after that class, my youngest son complained of feeling sick and put himself to bed. It was Noon. We were under attack.

The poor kid had to miss Trick-or-Treating, instead staying home with me while I handed out candy. Two days later, it was Monday morning and my wife and I were clearly sick, too, as was my daughter. I shambled back and forth from school Monday morning, escorting my older son to class since everybody else he usually walked with was out sick. By that night, though, he clearly had it, too. Then we got the call.

Within minutes of the time when my last kid started to show flu symptoms, the phone rang. It was a recorded message from our pediatrician’s office – the same office I had called on a daily basis for over three weeks in the hopes of getting some vaccine for my kids. And now, they were mocking me. The recorded message advised us that H1N1 vaccine was finally available and that we should call for an appointment. I’m pretty sure I heard laughing in the background, but that may have just been the blood pounding in my head. Or delirium.

That wasn’t the only humor of the week. When I went to see my doctor, he sat me in a chair next to a computer and told me not to give it a virus. I’d had a notion to write a humorous blog entry along the lines of “You know your family’s got the flu if…” but I forgot several of the ones I’d come up with, and most of the others weren’t actually humorous unless you had a fever. In fact, all I ended up with were observations about the fact that it was the week after Halloween, but my kids had eaten almost none of their candy, and an observation that having a fever tends to make you forget stuff a lot (such as things you’d meant to put in your blog).

On Tuesday, my wife took the kids to the pediatrician, then went to the pharmacy for all sorts of drugs. But the pediatrician also convinced her (and through her, me) that as a diabetic I ought to go see my own physician. But there wasn’t really anybody to drive me unless I wanted to drag the entire family along, so what resulted was a fairly harrowing, feverish drive in the dark to the next town over for an exam, then a similarly hair-raising drive home. I managed to stay more-or-less between the lines on the road and I didn’t rear-end anybody, so I considered the whole thing a success, but there’s no doubt I was a menace on the road.

It’s nice to have that all behind us. Our coughs and aches and weariness continue to fade and everybody’s almost back to normal. To the point where I can really appreciate how truly sick the kids were, as they weren’t constantly bickering with each other the way they have been since they started to feel better. It’ll be very nice to send them back to school tomorrow. I’ve got my last two classes to teach this week, then the semester’s over, too. At long last I’ll be able to get down to some serious writing in another week or so. It’ll be a busy week and no doubt a challenging one in various ways, but at least I can be certain that it won’t compare in the least to “flu week.”

No comments:

Post a Comment