It's been all over the news for so long and so hyped that people expect it to be 1918-1919 all over again. Well I reckon that I have that pandemic flu. Let me tell you all you need to know about this flu. How bad is it? How easy is it to catch it? How long has it taken for me to get over it? How does it feel to have it? (Some of you will ask how do I know I have that flu?)
I am not a medical doctor, if you feel sick follow the guidelines given by the Centers for Disease Control, and if you feel really sick report to an emergency room. Though honestly I don't think you'll need to. because...
In brief having H1N1 feels like having any other flu! I only note one difference is that I have had a more severe respiratory reaction to this flu than to any flu in my life. In my life flu has meant, nausea, very sore throat, vomiting, congestion, fever headache. This flu has been a low grade fever, moderately sore throat, coughing, weasing, diarrhea, and overall lethargy. So I have reacted noticeably differently to this flu.
It is on the basis of that different in quality that I claim that this is the swine flu H1N1 and no other. To know with "scientific certainty" I would have to go to a hospital and get a test which would detect antibodies, proteins, or the DNA of the virus itself. Which I don't think is necessary as I am not SOOO ill that I need to be in the hospital. This is my anecdote, it's not scientific, but take it for what it's worth.
How easy is it to catch H1N1?
My nephew came to my house with flu like symptoms and was here for at most 10 minutes of which I spent about 1-2 with him. He did not sneeze or cough while I was in the room either. He was in search of medicine and I gave him some. Then I ordered a Pizza, the pizza man may have had early symptoms looking back, though I did not pay them any mind at the time. I spent less than a minute with him. It was that easy to catch this flu.
So what should you do if you have it?
Call in sick at work or school if you feel any symptoms. If you are a hourly employee no work, no pay, and think you should go in and have the boss send you home. Consider this, if you make the boss and 20 other people ill how do you think that will effect your future? I know it's easy to stay home when you are a grad student, (well not really) or a salaried person. I know it's not so easy when you get paid by the hour. Just trust me as this flu has moved through my family bosses appreciate people who stay home with this one.
How long should you stay home?
According to the CDC, at least 24 hours after the fever has lifted (without the use of medication). So you need to feel better for one whole day before you can go back to work and won't necessarily make coworkers ill. That said the CDC notes that you can still infect someone with flu for up to 7 days after you are well. I personally have taken to wearing a mask to make it less likely that I'll infect anyone from a simple casual conversation.
How has it progressed?
At first it felt like a simple head cold. Then very rapidly my condition worsened. I was very lethargic to the point of not being able to move but to go to the bathroom and make myself eat. I suffered sever loss of appetite. The first few ( 3 the be precise) days I reckon I was down to an average of 1000 calories a day. I was dehydrated those few days and retained basically all the fluid I took in. I know this in part because I did not go to the bathroom like usual and I ballooned from 25 inches waist to 29 inches waist in under three days. Then for the last day and one half I have been forcing fluids, juices, and water. All through this I have been mostly on soup and a couple of sandwiches. I noticed all through this I have had upper and lower respiratory congestion, stuffy nose, stuffy throat, and stuffy lungs. My mother a RN listened to my chest and "heard something" in the upper right quadrant and no where else. She did not think it was necessary to go to the hospital. That was the low point for me. Taking fluids these last couple of days has unlocked the diarrhea that I had been spared. All the while I have had a low grade fever of about 100 to 99.5. Overall it is the same as any other flu.
If this is so much like any other flu why is it refered to as "Pandemic Flu" sometimes?
I don't know I'm not a doctor. My best guess is ... it's just really easy to catch. That's really all Pandemic means. A epidemic which is not contained by any borders, political, socio-economic, or cultural. This flu does not care it'll take at least a week of your life from you, and in some cases it's proven fatal. The hard thing to believe, due in large part to media hype, is that it has proven no more fatal than any other recent flu.
H1N1 Swine Flu : How it feels to have the dreaded "Pandemic Flu". Don't Panic.