I survived H1N1–no big risk

I’m in the final throes of what I assume is the dreaded H1N1 virus, my brain sufficiently recovered to write, my body grateful I can work from home.

Like millions of people, I suffered through a mild flu strain. I caught it from my teenaged daughter, who likely got it from sharing joints with her friends, who all came down with it.

Sharing joints makes little sense at the best of times. But apparently the risk assessment synapses of the teenaged brain remain undeveloped, which explains why so many end up in the hospital because of drugs, drinking, driving and the daredevil acts they film for YouTube. No wonder we parents worry. And catch their bugs.

I am not at all concerned about the sudden related pneumonia that sends people to intensive care. This is definitely not my worst flu experience.

I made the best of it, revisiting all that’s good on daytime TV: Ellen’s monologue, hot topics on The View and the soap opera I’ve watched when I’m sick since I was little girl. Then there was all the news coverage about clinic lineups and people ranting about their right to the vaccine.

Here in Toronto, the tipping point for H1N1 panic came with the death of 13-year-old with no known underlying health conditions. Since then people have stampeded the vaccine clinics, which are now rationed for high-risk people.

Next week, they are planning to inoculate school-aged children, which has left many people in my low-risk group frothing at the mouth.

Given their funding cuts, the public health clinics have coped as best they could. I would even cut some slack for big pharma, GlaxoSmithKline, which delivered less than expected because production was interrupted to cook up a special batch for high-risk pregnant women. Good call.

Once the pandemic is over, officials will study what went wrong and what they should do better next time. For now, everyone involved is too busy taking care of high-risk people.

They don’t have time for the drama of low-risk people who don’t normally opt for the free seasonal flu shot. So let’s spend less time getting angry and face the fact that H1N1 will be a mild virus for most of us.

In Freakonomics, Steven Levitt sifted through many studies to determine what our real risks are. He found that parents of young children should worry far more about backyard swimming pools and far less about car seats. Normally parents of teens are supposed to worry more about teenaged boys driving cars than they are about their kids sharing joints.

Fortunately, we have great public transit here so teenaged boys driving is not a concern. Yes, I wish my daughter wouldn’t smoke dope, let alone share joints. To enforce that, I would have to stand watch 24 hours a day, which would make us both crazier than mad cow disease.

But I am relieved she isn’t driving with boys, just as I always made sure my kids couldn’t sneak into my mother-in-law’s backyard pool and just as I’m so relieved that her asthmatic friend has fully recovered.

If I hadn’t already had the flu, I would probably line up for a shot when it becomes widely available. The risk of Guillain Barre syndrome and other rare side effects outweighs the risk of not getting the vaccine. But I am pleased that I don’t have to bother. Maybe Bill Maher has a point. Probably not.

My suspicion is that the numbers for H1N1 are under-reported. I’d love to see the media report more on attendance rates at workplaces and schools. Like me, most sick people are too tired to drag themselves to the doctor’s office and know better than to spread our germs that way.

Most of us get better by following the advice that I’ve parroted for clients, in pandemic plans, earlier swine flu advisories and just last week in H1N1 updates. Stay home. Rest. Call 9-1-1 if you have trouble breathing. And don’t waste time on fantasy risks.

From my experience, however, I would like to add one piece of advice: don’t share joints. Not that the teens will listen


3 Responses

  1. Glad you got through H1N1 relatively unscathed, Barb.

  2. […] and face the fact that H1N1 will be a mild virus for most of us. … View original post here: I survived H1N1–no big risk « Sticky communication Posted in H1N1 Shot Information, H1N1 Shot Risks. Tags: a-mild-virus, drama, face-the, for-most, […]

  3. I too just had H1N1 and i dont understand why anyone bothers getting the flu shot, it is only a risk to people with asthma, smokers, or people with other respiratory problems. Getting the flu shot isn’t just a waste of time but you will find that once you have taken it you will be more susceptible to sicknesses. Both my parents have been in the medical field for over 20 years. H1N1 is nothing more than your common flu, please dont bother with the shot.

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