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Making it through the H1N1 flu – my first hand experience

I cried when my husband told me that he had had H1N1 for the previous 3 days and it had not been just a bad cold that had kept him quarantined in our room for 2 nights hacking away.  Yes, I felt badly for him, but I was terrified for our 9 month old and our 2 year old who hadn’t been able to get the vaccine yet. 

Tuesday night my husband, Corey came down with a fever, Wednesday his cough sounded pneumonia-like (dry wheezing) so he went to the doctor to get checked out.  They gave him an x-ray to rule out pneumonia and took a bunch of cultures and sent him home for rest and fluids.  Friday morning my 9 month old, Alyssa (Ally), woke up with a fever and a runny nose.  Friday, just before lunch, Corey’s doctor called to say he had H1N1.  This is when I cried.  I was mad at so many people and I was terrified that we were going to be part of the pediatric mortality statistic that I had read about online – 19 pediatric deaths last week alone and my kids had the same flu – or at this point their getting it was an inevitability.  No matter how hard we tried to shield them there was no way that we are that good at sterilizing our house.  I have 2 giant cans of Lysol on the floors that we spend the most time, a hand sanitizer pump in the kitchen and antibacterial soap in each of the bathrooms.  My two year old coughs into his elbow 60% of the time now without us having to remind him but still, you can only do so much to stop it from spreading in your own house. 

I was mad at my husband for bringing it into our house, which in the end turned out to be more of a blessing, I’ll come back to that. 

I was mad that the CDC for not making enough of the vaccine and at the Public Health department of Illinois that hadn’t given our pediatricians office enough vaccine to have my kids qualify for receiving it until Friday morning.  Our pediatrician’s office set up one hour of calling a day to schedule same day vaccines.  I called during the scheduled hour 8-9am Friday morning and never got through (which I had been warned about via email from our pediatrician’s office). 

I was mad at the media for the panicky feeling I had in my chest, about what we were about to face over what was supposed to be a fun Halloween weekend.  How many kids die from this? Why did they die again? How are my kids different?  Are they any different?  Did they all have asthma?  No, only two thirds of the 19 were immune compromised.  Well what about the other 7 children?  Did they have names like Luke and Ally?  Probably so.  I felt like we were sitting on the tracks staring down the train that was about to run us over.

And then my voice of reason, his name is Corey, started saying that I needed to call the pediatrician.  I couldn’t because I couldn’t even tell him that he needed to, without choking up.  So he called, explained our situation and we were prescribed the antiviral medicine Tamilflu, a preventative dose for Luke who wasn’t showing any symptoms and an active dose for Alyssa who had early symptoms (fever, runny nose).   We called my doctor and I was prescribed the same preventative dosage.  My struggle then became what have I heard about Tamiflu? Is this something I give to my kids and that is what sends them to the hospital? 

Look, I’m a well educated person, not a doctor or in the healthcare profession but I have a brain. And prior to last week I had spent time trying to learn what I could about what best to do with my kids with this whole outbreak.  I wouldn’t say obsessively, but tried to educate myself and net things out to a level that I could digest, and as you know, it has been extremely difficult with all of the misleading and inflammatory information out there. 

It is now Tuesday and we are all on the mend.  In the end, my husband getting H1N1 was the best of the worst case scenarios.  I’m not sure that my daughter’s fever and runny nose would have raised a red flag for me to call the pediatrician so quickly but knowing that my husband had it, her symptoms became blatantly obvious to us.  The fact that we were on antiviral medication within 24 hours of the first of Alyssa’s symptoms, I believe (since I’m not a doctor) spared us from becoming really sick.  Alyssa had the worst of it, with a really bad phlegmmy cough, runny nose and fever – since she’s only 9 months old I don’t know what other symptoms she had that she couldn’t communicate.  My son, who is 27 months, and I have been laying low with a few body aches, low grade fever, mild sore throat and lethargy which has led us to conclude that the antiviral medicine fought off the flu for us or made it bypass us altogether. 

As a parent, I found it difficult to listen to all of the media focus on children that had passed away because of H1N1.  Yes, this is important to highlight to let us know the severity of the situation, but we all get that now.  All I wanted was for someone put a focus on positive actionable information that will help me take control of the situation instead of freaking me out. 

I wanted to write this to highlight two cases of healthy children that were directly exposed to H1N1 and came out on the other side just fine.   I hope that you manage to avoid this flu but if by chance you don’t, take a deep breath it will be ok, call your pediatrician at the first sign of symptoms and if they believe it is H1N1 you’ll likely get the antivirus medicine that significantly helps the symptoms of the flu. 

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