Sunday, 9 August 2009

Our brush with H1N1

wow.... it has been a while, almost two whole months since I last blogged and even then there wasn't a whole lot of activity from me.

May and June were busy with relocation work and getting live, June also saw a number of loose ends being tied up with odd clients and classes, packing, and preparing our home to be enjoyed by others over the summer.

Then came our departure week and a close call with the infamous H1N1. Days before we were due to head to Canada we had a friend and her daughter come and stay only to leave the next day, be admitted to hospital, and then be diagnosed with H1N1. The day the results came through will be remembered as one of the most stressful in my entire life (mmmm.... now what does that say about my life?). I spent the day on the phone to the local doctor, the children's hospital, the infectious diseases institute etc etc etc.

In cases like this it is always interesting to see how others react. My friends who survived the Tsunami blew it off, hugged us and said have a great holiday - let us know if we can do anything - they said. Then there are those who really panic.

The doctors finally decided to test Kieran as being under 5 he is high risk and we decided that all four of us would take Tamiflu as a preventative measure. None of us had any symptoms so we were given the all-clear to fly to Canada and told that unless we developed symptoms we were free to move around as normal. You have to love the doctor's attitude at Karolinska hospital who noted that we were at least flying to a country where the flu was running rampant!!

None of that really lightened our load and we spent the next few days on edge. My mother-in-law, a sufferer of a lung disease was understandably, less than thrilled considering she is also in the high risk category. Nothing like getting a holiday off to a good start.

Finally Kieran's results came back as negative and we got word that considering we still didn't have any symptoms we could safely assume that none of us had caught it. That's not something I treat lightly considering our children spent hours together playing in a closed environment.

Had we not been flying I would only have had to worry about our health, especially that of my son who as a four year old is supposedly more at risk. And considering he had recently had strep throat followed by a vaccination his immune system would not have been at its best.

Flying from one country to another adds a whole new dimension to things. What are the repercussions if we say "to hell with it" and go? What happens if we have to cancel our flight? Who would pick up my mum and her partner 5 days later if we didn't make our flight, or couldn't get another? What if we go, symptom free and then get sick? What then if our insurance didn't cover us? Canada is one hell of a country to be in if you don't have travel insurance. But again our Tsunami friends reassured us that it would all be sorted out if needed. Experience is a wonderful thing.

In the end I decided to be upfront about coming in contact with H1N1, make the phone calls and get the run around. I spoke to all the doctors and I put Kieran through the horrid testing - a very, very, very long thing stuck up into his sinus passages, in the car park behind the clinic because they would not have us in the clinic, by a doctor in a suit that resemble Darth Vader's only it was clear. The poor kid was traumatized for days, Makaila too, who ended up hiding behind the loading bay so she didn't have to watch. But it did give us peace of mind, for what it was worth. We were given the go-ahead, told we could move about freely and a few days later found out we could put it all behind us. I just hope Kieran doesn't hold it against me the rest of his life......

People are saying all sorts of things about this pandemic and you hear words like hysteria, over-stated, under-stated, weaker strains, mutation, vaccination and concern for the coming winter being thrown about the place. The thoughts and theories, speculations and assumptions about H1N1 are plentiful.

But out of all this there is one thing that has really struck me, and that is how vulnerable the flight staff are as they move hundreds and hundreds of people around the globe every day.

A young boy was feverish and threw up in the seat behind us on our way to Canada. He and his brother were flying from Cambodia to see his grandparents in Toronto. The staff helped him as best they could. Then the man in front of us on our way back to Stockholm had a fever and felt like he was going to vomit. The staff took his temperature and helped him as best they could.

I can't help but think of our friend who works as a steward, and goes home after each stint to his wife, his four year old and his one-month-old baby. Our brush with H1N1 pales in comparison......

1 comment:

  1. Ayii, that is scary. For all that runaround and visits to the doctors, it was the right thing. At least, I would blame myself if I missed out on a testing only to find out later that I had contracted H1N1. Being overcautious and hysterical are two different things. You totally veered towards the former.