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    H1N1 Swine Flu : How it feels to have the dreaded "Pandemic Flu". Don't Panic.
    By Hontas Farmer | October 8th 2009 09:51 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    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. 

    Comments

    Becky Jungbauer
    I either had the regular flu or H1N1, and while it was awful for a week, it was survivable. My symptoms (bad cough, really sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue) were bad for a solid week, and then I've been slowly recovering over the past two weeks. The cough just finally went away but I did hack up some pretty awesome phlegm balls so I suppose that's one bonus. Mom (who is a nurse) said to not go to the doc to get tested because as long as I don't have emergency symptoms it doesn't make sense to go in (which is what the CDC says as well), so I don't know what I had for sure. I did have two cousins that had confirmed H1N1 and I was around their families, so I'm leaning toward H1N1. I agree, though, Hontas, that the "scariness" is largely due to media hype.
    Hfarmer
    Totally hype.  It's like the media has been preparing us for a wwI like pandemic deadly plague of a flu ever since SARS and avian flu came about.  Now when it happens, it's not so bad.  Not that I'm complaining.  
    The kicker is one way the media hyped SARS and avian flu was by talking about it being a terrorist weapon from some exotic overseas locale.  Instead it turns out to have been first seen in the good ol US of A.  lol 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Andrea Kuszewski
    Well, I had H1N1 back in July; I picked it up in Boston when I came here for some job interviews. Not only did I get the job, but also the flu.

    This was the worst flu I ever had. My fever did not get below 102 even with double-doses of extra-strength tylenol, and lasted over 5 days straight. I even would keep the air conditioner blowing right on my face for hours at a time to ease the discomfort of the fever.  After that, the fever came and went depending on how many meds I could keep pumped into my system without going toxic. My cough was so bad, it morphed into a mild case of pneumonia after about 3 weeks. Al in all, it took me over a month to really feel even 85%. It was definitely the worst flu or sickness I ever had; the closest was when I had Mono back when I was 18 and needed to go to the ER.

    I think not everyone gets it with the same severity, due to individual immune responses. I was under a great deal of stress at the time I contracted it, and not getting very much sleep at all, so that probably factored in to how sick I got.
    Hfarmer
    Yeah like the nephew my nuclear family caught the flu from.  His experience of it was almost like that of Anderson Cooper of CNN.  He got a miserably ill for a day or two but says he's ok now. 
    In writing this blog I hope you did not think I was making light of the real suffering this flu, and even regular seasonal flu can cause.  It's just that I was sooo expecting this flu to be just as bad as you have described or worse.  
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.

    Aah-choo! Yes, its the rainy season once again. Colds and flu are common during these days and anybody can be infected with the flu virus. But do not confuse the colds for the flu. Influenza or flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus .Since it is the start of the fall flu season, there not only will be the ordinary flu, but also the H1N1 influenza strain, or the Swine Flu.  Any vaccine carries risk of infection, but most likely it will protect you.   The worst possible H1N1 vaccine risk is a possibility of developing GBS, or Guillain Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune condition which involves the break down of the lining of nerve cells.
    Hfarmer
    Trust me this is not a cold.  Not every flu leads to hospitalization.  Another thing is I haven't told anyone not to get vaccinated. I have told them that if they get the flu don't panic.  The fear and dread of the flu, the hysteria and hype about this flu could be more dangerous than the actual disease.  It will come, and it will go, some will die, MOST will live.  Take it from someone who has had and is now getting over the flu (after 7 days of misery) it's not that bad.  As you see in the comments above even when it is really really bad, it's still ultimately just the flu.  
    The way some people talk about H1N1 I'd think it was an airborne strain of HIV.  sheesh. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.