DIMATO COOPER: H1N1: Unwelcome Visitor at Our House
When the doctor returned to the examination room with a positive test result, I couldn't believe it. H1N1, also known as swine flu, had made its way into our humble abode.
We had done the hand-washing and kept the air and surfaces saturated with disinfectants. We had used hand sanitizer like lotion. But still the dreaded virus crept uninvited into our home and attacked three of our six children. You just can imagine what my life has been like for the past week.
"OK," I asked the doctor. "So what happens next?"
The first course of action on the road to recovery, he said, was a prescription for Tamiflu.
Easy enough, right? Wrong. Because there was no Tamiflu to be had in any of the pharmacies in Moore county.
I had to journey up to Sanford to Medicine Park Pharmacy for the much-sought-after medication, both the suspension and the capsules. Even as I was handing in my prescriptions, another woman came in, also needing three prescriptions filled. So now it was time to wait.
While we waited, my 8-year-old daughter started coughing, and before long -- you guessed it -- whatever was inside of her ended up in the car. And as I cleaned up after her, she started with Round 2, giving my feet a hefty dose as well. Double yuck. But it goes with the parental territory.
There is nothing funny about H1N1. Our pediatrician had two patients in the hospital because pus had developed in their lungs. This did not frighten me, nor was it intended to. It was just to demonstrate that this virus must be taken seriously. The greatest fear, I was informed by our pediatrician, is the possibility that the regular flu and H1N1 might form an alliance, a mutation against which we have no defense.
I know we get tired of the news reports inundating us till we begin to turn a deaf ear to them. But it is mandatory that we not let up our defensive strategy against this enemy. We must all continue to do our part in the battle, and that includes knowing what the symptoms are.
They're like those of the regular flu: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, and stuffy or runny nose. You may feel fatigued and maybe even have diarrhea or vomiting. However, don't make the mistake that I made: I was looking for a fever as the first indicator among my children, but only one child had a fever first.
I did notice a common thread. They all complained of a tummy ache (which I hadn't associated with H1N1) and a headache. And this was before I noticed any fever. I believe the worse symptom that accompanies H1N1 is the hacking cough, which can bring on uncontrollable vomiting. Gross, I know. The helplessness that a parent can feel at such a time is heartbreaking, but we have no option but to let the disease run its course. Our pediatrician did prescribe a cough syrup that worked wonders.
The initial attack was the worst, but after a couple of days the high fevers broke and my young patients began to feel better -- so much so that they wanted to get up and play. I didn't let them, because I knew they still needed more time to recover.
After my too-close encounter with H1N1, my humble advice is to keep your spirits up and your hands clean. This is the best defense -- even if the simple mechanism of hand-washing, as in our case, doesn't always work.
You don't have to live in fear of H1N1; you just need to use common sense and get medical help quickly if you think this uninvited and unwelcome guest has moved from our house to yours.
Dimato Cooper, of Cameron, is a wife, mother and entrepreneur student at Sandhills Community College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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