Monday, November 2, 2009

Bench Talk: H1N1- How Scary is it?

The public is faced with another flu pandemic. H1N1 is making everyone afraid to be in public! Just how serious is this new version of the flu? Is it really serious or has the 'Media' once again turned H1N1 into something more than it really is?

What decisions have you made for yourself and your family?

Will you get the vaccine?

Well, once again my opinion is that the media have blown this all out of proportion. I understand the media has the duty to publish all the facts and opinions that they get. I believe, however, that the information is spun by the media to achieve whatever the desired result is at any particular point in time.

On the one hand I will hear in a news broadcast the seriousness of the H1N1. Yet in another broadcast I will hear the opinions of doctors and nurses advising the public that H1N1 is just a new strain of flu and it carries the same risk as any other flu.

I work with the public and when our union asks the company if we can wear masks and gloves we are told no, as it might insult the customers! It doesn't matter how often you wash your hands, when you have a sick customer cough in your face, chances are you will get sick!

At home, we do as we have always done - we wash our hands, eat healthy food, get fresh air and rest. We are lucky not to have any preexisting conditions which would make catching the flu more serious, for example, asthma or heart conditions. I actually think we all had mild cases of H1N1 a month ago. All the symptoms matched. What did we do? I made batches of homemade chicken noodle soup, drank green and mint tea and rested. It took about two weeks for it to work it's way through our systems. The last symptoms, if you want to call them that, were occasional dizziness and sinus pain.

Will we get the vaccine? Hubby thinks we should, but them he was the first to get the regular flu vaccine. I am on the fence. My gut says no. I think I would like to wait a year and see what happens. Some people claim I'm playing Russian roulette with the kids. The kids are not in what the medical field term, 'the high risk zone', so I will continue to gather information and hope to make the best decision for my family.

I personally feel the media has gone overboard once again. Flu season has started but I can't seem to get clear information. I would like to know how many people are sick with the seasonal flu and what is the death rate. I did read today in the Toronto Star that the cocktail mixture used in the flu shot that is being given out now has not gone through the normal drug tests. This very much concerns me, just what are they injecting into people? They do not know what the short term or long term side effects are going to be.

When you hear the public health professionals on the news, they say that most people getting the H1N1 flu will be fine. And the flu shot is for the people who are at high risk.

I have no plans to get the shot or to give the shot to the little one. She does have asthma and when she gets a cold it does go to her chest so we need to be careful and make sure she has her puffers as soon as we notice anything. I just asked my husband if he plans to get the flu shot and he said "no". As far as I know the teenager is not getting the shot either. I have a concern that if we don't let our bodies fight bacteria and virus then it wont be able to fight the more dangerous disease. I am no doctor but I have read stuff in relation to allergies and I am leaning towards the idea that we have an increase to allergies and asthma because the our bodies have never had to fight less dangerous bacteria and virus.

The 13 year old boy who died this week from what the media is saying was H1N1 is very sad and upsetting. The media has claimed that he was a healthy 13 year old boy who got sick and then died. It is very sad and my heart goes out to the family. But once again I ask how many apparent healthy people die from the flu every year and we don't hear about it on the news. Because of this one child there is now a panic all over the GTA (greater Toronto area) to get the flu shot.

With all this being said I am still concerned enough not to intentionally expose my family to the flu. Last weekend the little one was not well and has been using her puffers for most of the week. She seems to be fine now. The teenager also was sick last week with a fever (she just complained she was cold) stubborn cough and stuffed nose. This past Wednesday she woke up in the morning and said she was to tired from coughing to go to school. Since she had a first period spare I told her to sleep and if she felt better around 9:30 then her Dad could take her to school. I guess that wasn't the answer she wanted as she then got up and went to school! I spoke to Sunshine today and all her family is now sick so I have decided to just come home after the Harvest Party at the church instead of going to her home for a party. I don't think it is wise to expose the little one to another virus as she is just getting over one and Sunshine and her family should take it easy and rest. Hopefully they do get some sleep early tonight.

(Sunshine) I am so afraid after hearing about the death of those two children because of H1N1. Teen Sunshine started feeling sick last Sunday and was really not doing well on Monday and Tuesday. She had a high fever and a head ache and she was exhausted and dizzy. She is in her first year of high school and has so much going on so she took some Advil and went to school. She looked much better on Wednesday night but then on Thursday she was worse again. She went to school all week until Friday came along and she was too tired to even get up. She is still sick. The fever lasted about two days. Then she started with a stuffy nose and now she has an awful cough and is still exhausted and on occasion dizzy. She joined us for trick or treating for about half an hour on Saturday and then she went home. She had some friends over and I was searching for her and found her in bed trying to sleep. I asked her to come and spend time with her friends and she came downstairs and fell asleep on the couch next to her aunt.

Little Miss Sunshine started to feel sick on Wednesday night. She had a very high fever and a head ache and stuffy nose on Thursday and Friday. She stayed home from school on Thursday and went to school on Friday as she did not want to miss all of the Halloween festivities. When I went to pick her up on Friday she looked and felt awful. She spent most of Saturday in bed until about 5:0o pm and then I helped her to get dressed and she was ready to go trick or treating. We went out for several hours but I was really worried about her cough but I was so happy that she had no fever. When we got home she was tired but she was playing and she looked much better. When our guests left she quickly fell asleep in my bed.

I started feeling sick on Thursday. But my symptoms are a little different. I have chills and sweats on and off all day and night. I also have an upset stomach in the morning and in the evenings and a bit of a cough. I am also exhausted and a bit dizzy at times.

On Thursday evening the three of us went to the walk in clinic. It was a three hour wait. Thankfully my walk in clinic allows you to register and then go home and come back at a given time. I still had to wait an hour in the waiting room but at least the first two hours wait we did from the comfort of our home. When we arrived at the clinic everyone had masks on so we also put on masks. The doctor checked our ears and throats and listened to our chests and to our symptoms. He said that we all had symptoms of H1N1. They did not run any tests or prescribe any medication. He said to continue life as normal if you are feeling well. Take care of your self if you are sick and come back if you get worse. That's all??????

When I asked whether or not I should alert the schools or work he simply asked what I would tell them. He reminded me that they are unconfirmed cases. When he finished he left the room and then came back and told me that if I wanted to be a responsible parent then I could call the schools and let them know what my daughters symptoms are. That's what I did.

Mr Sunshine thankfully is still ok, (sorry I lied it's now Sunday morning and he is sick ). I am more worried about him as he is a diabetic and I am also very concerned about Teen Sunshine because she gets asthmatic when she is sick and has had several bouts of Bronchitis and Pneumonia over the years. Really I am so concerned about everyone and I don't really know what to do about the shot that is available. I know that if I call the pediatrician he will tell me to give the kids the shot. We all got the flu shot one season and we were all the sickest that we had ever been that year. I know that it is not supposed to have any relation to getting the flu shot, I am only stating the fact that we were all really sick all season. I don't know what to do, I am really concerned and the two young deaths have made me really scared.

I did alert everyone for Halloween that we were all sick and some people decided to come and others decided to stay home. My sister and her boyfriend and his daughter were all already sick so they decided that they would join us. My other sister said that she was not coming near any sick people and then she showed up anyways. I was concerned for my dad and his friend as they are both well into their 70's but he also decided to come. As we were on our way back from trick or treating we ran into Louise and her cousin and their families so they also decided to come. Another friend whose daughter was trick or treating with my daughter said that her whole house had been sick for about a month so they also decided to come.

Although I enjoyed seeing everyone, I felt really bad that we were all there and Cathy and Carolin's families were not. I understand their decisions and I am so sorry that it worked out this way. I just really felt that everyone needed to know that we were all sick and that it was going to be a very low key evening and that they were still welcome to join us if they wanted to. I missed the Halloween night that we all use to have all together and I hope that next year it will be better. I tried to spend some time with our guests but truly half of the evening I spent in the Living room cuddled up on the couch beside my dad. I have not seen him in a month now. I really didn't cook much and I was disappointed because usually I really enjoy getting ready for the evening but my energy supply was so low and Little Miss Sunshine wants me to never leave her side when she is sick.

H1N1, I really don't like you. You really scare me and confuse me. I hope that we will all be healthy soon and stay healthy for the rest of the season. I am sure that the media does blow things out of proportion but at the same time they did not fabricate the fact that those two young people died from H1N1. I don't really know what my opinion is on the media. I just want us all to be well.


  1. Unbelievable to me that your children have all the symptoms of H1N1 and you send them to school. That is selfish, inconsiderate and completely irresponsible. I have an asthmatic child and it is people like you who put my childs life at risk.

  2. Well Anonymous, why is it when someone has something negative to say they can't suck it up and put there name on there comment. If you have an opinion then be proud of it and don’t hide behind anonymous. Secondly as one of the writers of this blog and with a child who also has asthma it is not the responsibility of others to keep our children healthy. Sunshine did what is right and let everyone know and we made what we felt was the best decision for our child. Secondly all the H1N1 symptoms are the same as a cold or normal flu. If the doctors can't tell the difference or bother to do a test then how is the general public supposed to know. And as I have said over and over the media has blown this all out of proportion. And lastly RELAX!!!!! Be thankful your child only has Asthma and not cancer.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Yes, I agree everyone is panicking and over-reacting. That being said, once I am better (currently sick with the regular flu), I am still off to get the shot. As an asthmatic who has spent many a terrifying night in ICU, praying to live to see morning, I do not wish to temp fate any further than I have to. Yes, I also wash my hands, cough into a tissue, blah, blah, blah, but let's face it...germs are everywhere. Found out this morning actually that a coworker (in another building) passed away on Thursday from this flu...the numbers are growing. Word is there is not a single ICU bed available in the city of Calgary right now, because every one is filled with H1N1 victims...again, not huge numbers, but what if someone gets in a serious car accident, or is a shooting victim...where are they to go for help? I figure a poke in the arm is my civic responsibility and hey, at least we have the option here.
    Boils down to you do what's best for you and your family. Period.

  5. Carol, you are right about us having options. We should consider ourselves lucky that we have access to so much information. This then puts the onus on us to make the best choice. Germs are everywhere and many more people are sick this season than last. If the medical profession is not taking stats to see how many people have h1n1 verses the 'regular' flu, how will they know if this season is any worse than any other season? It is unreasonable to think that people will quarantine themselves until they are symptom free. As for the vaccine, I will feel more comfortable with it when they tell us what's in it and make their minds up as to whether or not children need one dose or two. I feel sorry in a way for all of the scientists and anyone else working on figuring this flu out. It's a new strain and they are playing a guessing game. Only time and hopefully stats will tell how it all works out.

  6. I do agree with one thing is everyone needs to do whats best for their own family. Mine are not getting it becouse for 1 by the time reg.healthy people can get it it will all be over. And what's in it anyway. I figure what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Just have faith I guess.