Monday, October 26, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention


Last week, I went to the occupational health clinic at work and got my seasonal flu vaccine. They didn't have the H1N1 vaccine yet and don't know when it'll be delivered. When they do, it'll be rationed to staff working high risk areas first. I don't think hospice falls into that category. There's a public clinic tomorrow that I'm thinking of trying to attend, but recent events like this have had long, long lines. People started lining up at one last weekend at 4 in the morning. Since I can't sleep well anyways, maybe that's an option. If I were the first to get there, I wouldn't have to worry about milling around with thousands of (possibly sick) people standing on line, lowing like good little cattle.

There is a lot of overwhelming information out there and with all of the media hype and states of emergency, it's easy to feel a little frightened. Worse yet, I'm concerned people are becoming apathetic or developing the belief that all of the noise surrounding this flu is hyperbole. Conspiracy theories abound that this is a money maker for vaccine producers, but I find that premise hard to believe. Because it's novel, this particular influenza virus is nasty and although I don't work in critical care anymore, I still hear the stories from the trenches. In conversation with my respiratory therapy friends, incidents of influenza have been seen with devastating consequences for their patients all summer long, including people in all age groups. About a month ago, my sister forwarded an email from a colleague that explained his wife's harrowing ordeal with this virus over the summer, including over a week on life support, permanent pulmonary damage and the long road to recovery. His wife is about my age.

While I await my opportunity to offer up my deltoid muscle, I'm trying to stay healthy, eat right, wash my hands 100 times a day, stop touching my mouth, eyes and nose and get as much rest as my hormonal state allows. More importantly, I'm doing my best to avoid obviously ill people, but it isn't easy because people can be ignorant and down right rude. The other day, I stood on line at TJ Maxx while a woman at the register was trying to check out. In her arms, she was carrying a pile of clothing and her acutely viral child. His face was flushed, his body limp and his cough, frightening. I wanted to clobber her for taking her kid out in the cold rain when he was too sick to even offer up a protest. I'd have been less judgmental if I'd bumped into her in the cold and flu aisle at the pharmacy, but TJ Maxx? What was it she couldn't live without that day? To be fair, she could have been the smartest person in the world, but she didn't have a lick of common sense.

Have you read The Great Influenza by, John Barry? It's incredible. If you don't want to read his tome, why not give him a listen?

Have you gotten your H1N1 vaccine yet? Will you?


23 comments:

Amy said...

I haven't been able to get the basic flu shot yet--my doctors have all run out. I should get H1N1, if I can find it. Technically, I'm asthmatic, as is my youngest, so we've been told we should make sure to track it down.

Mary Anne Gruen said...

I have a feeling I had some variation on the swine flu last year. My doctor wasn't sure, but it all the symptoms and took a month to recover from. Not fun.

Rudee said...

Amy, maybe you can track down both. Of concern is that the novel virus will recombine with the seasonal virus and cause more severe disease. Good luck on your hunt.

Mary Anne, will you still get a vaccine if you think you contracted it during the first wave? I think, if not sure, I would.

Stephanie V said...

Right you are, Rudee. My sister works in an AIDS hospice and day program and, while the residents and participants are at great risk so are the staff who have been sick, so far. It's not hyperbole.
Our H1N1 vaccine is being doled out in priority waves - I'm in the last wave so sometime mid-Novemeber for me.

Brenda said...

I have the baby today so I didn't have time to listen to the entire segment, but will listen to it tonight. It sounds pretty interesting. I would like to know exactly what this is all about and it sounds like he is the one that knows the most. Everyone seems to be getting something lately and I agree....If you are feeling sickly...stay home if at all possible. People that don't wash their hands often really drive me nuts! thanks for passing this on to us. I will come back later and watch it all.

Rudee said...

Brenda, his discussion is clinical, but I think most will understand the gist of the conversation. His book was fascinating--and he is not a scientist--he is a researcher, historian and journalist.

Queenmothermamaw said...

Guess I won't get the H1N1 vaccine. Not in a high risk group. I am not gonna even bother to get the regular flu shot. I have been getting it for 50 years, surely I am some immunity. I have allergies but have never had the flu. As HH says, at this age something will finally get us. LOL.
I first thought when I started visiting with you you were a Hospice visit nurse, but I see now you work in the Hospice part of the hospital. Is that right?
QMM

Quiltluver said...

If I can find the shot without having to stand in huge lines, then yes, I'll get the shot. Our company alwasy arranges for the seasonal shot to come to the office, so I've had that one already. I don't think this thing is anything to fool around with. Karen

Rudee said...

QMM, I do after hour starts of care wherever they are (homes, hospitals, nursing homes), emergency and preside at home deaths. I don't case manage, which is ok by me. I think I have the best of both worlds and the ability to work the off shift. I like it.

Mrs. A said...

I've been pretty apethetic about all the "'flu hype" until this week. Your blog is the proverbial nail in the coffin.

We probably won't be getting the H1N1 shot. We don't usually get the seasonal flu shot. But as you said, there's no excuse not to eat right, wash and be cautious. Any tricks to get my two kidlets to stop biting their nails?

I'm sandwiched on the highway between two Canadian 'hot spots'. Locally, there were 4 cases of H1N1 last week and they're reporting 14 as of this week. As so it goes...

Stay healthy!

Rose said...

I'm kind of worried about getting new vaccines. You tell me: should I? I'd trust your judgement as a health professional more than most. I'm getting the regular flu shot tomorrow (if they don't run out again.)

Rudee said...

If you're used to the seasonal flu shots, Rose, you should do OK with H1N1. It's produced in the same manner as seasonal flu vac but uses the specific H1N1 strain. Next year's seasonal flu shot will include H1N1. The flu struck too late this year to incorporate it into the seasonal vaccine. If you work with who is expected to be hit the hardest, and you do, get it!

Catherine said...

Hi Rudee I am still awaiting the arrival of H1N1 vaccine here - I am on one of the teams that will probably be giving the vaccine in Mass vaccination clinics, under protocol. have had all the updates, cpr, anaphylaxis, injection technique, sharps management, protocol for H1N1, etc etc. so we are ready to rock'n'roll from next Mon. if needed. The GPs will be doing the vaccine too but there is war with their insurers as not all will offer indemnity. So they are being advised not to give it. They have sorted the payment they will get. Team training tomorrow for the first team, so I await same with bated breath. Will be in second cohort to get it, (frontline staff after high risk groups).
All the best
Catherine

Lisa L said...

I work at the hospital every morning with my hmo job before returning to the clinic. Currently have a 43yo woman, smoker, with H1N1...she's on 15L of O2 (which just keeps her in the 90's) and a hair away from being intubated. I work Hospice on the weekends...the vaccine hasn't made it here yet, but I am praying I can get it.. I may not do 'hands on' at the hospital, but I'm certainly in contact with the patients. Still yet,this doesn't put me in the first tier of recipients to get the vaccine. ugh...hoping I'll be able to get it one way or another.

Sandy said...

Always good to read first hand accounts. thanks.

Rudee said...

Catherine, good luck! I'm sure you're going to be one tired nurse.

Lisa, that patient must be exhausted. I hope she does well. And I hope you get your vaccine. Hello? Don't they think we'll see flu patients that don't do so well?

Tigers said...

I don't know whether to get it or not. I did get the regular flu jab this year for the first time. As for the H1N1....the movie: I Am Legend springs to mind each time I think about it.
I just don't know.

NCmountainwoman said...

We have our regular flu shot clinic on Friday but there is no H1N1 vaccine available. That flu is widespread throughout our part of the country and the vaccine is given only to high risk groups.

SkippyMom said...

Pooldad and both kids have the swine flu, but [thank goodness] they have weathered it well, but you bet your boots I kept them home from school as long as possible and P/D hasn't gone to work - eventhough he could he doesn't want to infect anyone else.

The schools are vaccinating for the swine flu beginning in the elementary schools going up to the high schools but they haven't gotten to my kids yet [because they are older] and the vaccine isn't available yet for the older kids.

Now I don't know whether to have them vaccinated since they have already had it. Can you get it twice? The doctor didn't seem to have the answer. sigh.

Anyway, as I said yesterday - I am posting from the closet. I don't want it. Love'em but they can stay away from me :)

Anonymous said...

ok Rudeek. The real question is did you get up and go get the flu shop. When I drove by Freedom Hill at 6:30 AM. They were already parked on 16 mile rd ready to get in....Were you one the early risers.

FTM

Rudee said...

FTM, I chose to sleep in. I was glad I did because they were giving out the nasal vaccine and I'm too old to qualify.

Kathleen said...

Yep, when my turn is up (maybe never at this rate), I will indeed get the shot. I may well have had H1N1 when it first broke. I was sick as the proverbial dog at the end of April, so either it was the mismatched strain or HiN1. Either way, I'm putting out my arm.

I'm privvy to a lot of info on this topic, and I feel very comfortable with the safety profile. I think one thing people forget is how much it SUCKS to get even a mild bout of seasonal flu. That's why employers offer flu shots.

The profit motive argument is totally bogus to me. It's a huge risk for a company to make vaccines. There's never any telling for sure if the match on the seasonal strains will hold or how many people will decide they're going to get one. They actually put a lot on the line.

So brava for you, Rudee, being such a good role model. And yes, I'm going to add all kinds of complementary care to the mix, too, like keeping my "chi" happily humming along through acupuncure. Getting a relaxing massage. Washing my poor dry hands. Popping Zinc and C.

I really don't want to get sick! Neither do the colleagues I'm around or my family members.

OK, stepping off soap box now!

jeannette stgermain said...

Rudee, this morning I was hit with a scam. I did NOT send anyone invites to Jhoos! I didn't have your email, so that's why I'm writing you here about it - so sorry. I changed my emails/password, but I am still Jeannette StGermain LOL
Yes, please stay healthy:)