Let me tell you folks, if you CAN find and receive the vaccine, I think I would get it. It really is that much worse than the regular flu. And I can say to get the vaccine only because hindsight is 20/20. I procrastinated getting it because I had an appointment with the cardiologist this past Tuesday, and wanted to ask which one I should be getting, if any at all. My Dr. has always said that it was up to my parents and myself if I wanted to get the seasonal flu vaccine. My dad used to make me get it every year, until he passed away in 2000. Every year I would dread going because it seemed like I would always get sick after receiving it. So I haven't received the vaccine in years. And with the H1N1 being a new strain, I of course haven't ever been exposed to it or vaccinated against it. But with it being reported as being pretty serious, I wanted to see what exactly my Dr. thought about it; there are always risks with vaccines (which is why my dogs don't get them!) and this is a vaccine that hasn't ever been given before. I also knew that if the dr. did recommend it, I would probably need his help to find and receive it.
So I put it off. I mean, as of right now, its just 2 weeks into November for crying out loud. The risk wouldn't be that big, would it? Boy was I wrong!
I woke up the Wednesday right before Halloween feeling pretty ill. My body hurt, and I immediately started coughing. As the day went on (it was my scheduled day off) I got worse and worse. I couldn't find a thermometer that hadn't been used on the dogs (you know what that means...) so I couldn't tell if I had a fever; but I had body aches and chills worse than I ever have. I woke up Thursday feeling even worse. It wasn't like the flu I usually got- I didn't have any "head cold" like symptoms; just a nasty cough and feeling lousy. But then I started getting so cold that my fingers were blue. That's right. BLUE. Like "Scary Smurf" blue. That's when I called my GP. They said they didn't like the sound of my breathing (because I really couldn't due to the coughing) so they told me to get my ass over to the ER pronto. I told them (truthfully) that I really was too sick to drive. They told me I should go, but I told them Id have to wait to get a ride.
A few hours later though, I felt OK enough to drive (and I had tried to get warm in the hot-tub to no avail) so I decided to go to a local ER (versus Mass General). I waited for a while until I got triaged, where I found out I had a fever of about 101. I waited a total of 5 hours (masked, might I add) before I finally got a bed and was seen by a dr. They did a rapid flu test and found I was positive. The dr. said that "as it is too early for the seasonal flu, it is H1N1" (which doesn't make sense to me, as the seasonal flu doesn't abide by the calendar...). He wrote me out the prescription for the Tamiflu because I am "borderline" high-risk with my cardiac issues and he didn't want it to develop into pneumonia. He also told me that I would be out of work for 7 days. At that point I got a little upset. Work had changed its "paid time off" policy from paying us out for unused time off at the end of the year, to "use it or lose it"; so I had used it all, and was now looking at taking sick time without pay. I wanted to make sure I could go back to work as soon as I could, and he wrote the note for the parameters set by the CDC-either going back to work 48 hours after the fever breaks (24 to be fever free, and then 24 to make sure the fever doesn't come back) or 7 days (which is what a lot of employers are requiring to make sure it doesn't get spread around).
That night I ate a little (I hadn't eaten since Wednesday morning, but did not really have any desire to) and then took the Tamiflu. I went to bed with the blankets piled on because I was still freezing cold, and tried to get to sleep. I woke up at about midnight soaked in sweat. I also felt so nauseous that I got up and took some pepto. I tried getting back to sleep, but was still hot and sick. Then I found myself sprinting to the bathroom, hoping I would make it. Yeah...I puked until I was dry heaving. It was AWFUL. I haven't been sick like that since I was under 10. I was SSSIIIICCCKKK.....
I did feel better after I had finished, and was able to get back to bed. I didn't have any more vomiting, but it changed course if you know what I mean. That's when I knew that I did have the H1N1 and not just the flu. The gastrointestinal pyrotechnics are kind of a hallmark of the sickness...
So I spent the next few days out of work (Thursday, Friday Saturday-which is my normal day off, and also was Halloween-and Sunday) and went back on Monday. Needless to say I did NOT pass out any candy to trick-or-treators on Halloween! The girls were happy because they didn't have to dress up as hot-dogs this year. They were so good to me; they really do know when I'm sick. They were great when I was going through everything earlier this year, and were even better with me this time around. They both layed and snuggled with me on the couch. Usually its just Shelby that lays on top of me, but Heidi got right up there with her and settled in too. They really were the best medicine; definitely better than the chicken soup and Tamiflu!!
So it really was 5 miserable, awful, crappy days. Not only because I FELT sicker than I have in probably years, but because of the additional nerves of having to miss several days of work and pay. This happened the same week I was given a 2200$ estimate from my mechanic for a 60,000 mile tune up, 4 new tires and 2 sets of new brakes. Yeah, it was fun times... but now I'm feeling much better; a little more broke (as I did end up getting the tires and brakes...apparently they're important...) and I still have a cough, but I'm back to my regular activity.
So I lend this tale to let you know what to look for in terms of symptoms, and hoping that if I can convince someone to get the vaccine (especially any high-risk people reading this), I might save them several days of virus-induced torture.
On another note, I received an email from a dog friend about another disease that's going around. In order to try and protect even more people, I share this info with you now:
Urgent Notice: Potential Danger of Dog Hair......
In a press release today, the National Institute of Health has announced the discovery of a potentially dangerous substance in the hair of dogs. This substance, called "amobacter caninii" has been linked with the following symptoms in females: Reluctance to cook, clean or do housework, a reluctance to wear make-up, good clothes or high heels. Reluctance to spend money on home or car repairs until after 'Baby' has new collars, leashes, beds, treats, food, blankets or toys.
"Amobacter caninii" usually results in long hours away from home and exhaustion which may lead to a loss of physical contact with other humans (especially husbands and boyfriends). "Amobacter caninii" is thought to be addictive, driving the need for additional sources - this may lead to a "pack mentality" or like the potato chip commercial, "you can't have just one". Beware! If you come in contact with a female human infected by this substance, be prepared to talk about dogs for hours.
Surgeon General's Warning: Dogs are expensive, addictive, and may impair the ability to use common sense.
This message is from the CDC-Canine Disease Control
(actually this is a picture of Heidi wearing a body suit from K9topcoat.com. I bought it to keep the dog hair out of the pool when I have them swimming in it during the summer; apparently dog hair in the pool filter is pretty bad...)