Tag Archives: H1N1

Screw password protection

I am annoyed.  I know, that is so rare around here.  This, however, is an extra-special case of Annoyed, because here’s what happened.

As you may recall, our au pair got really, really sick.  It all began with a sudden bad cough and a runny nose, but it blossomed into a pretty clear case of the flu. Fever, exhaustion, the works.  We quarantined her after her doctor diagnosed her with the flu and gave her Tamiflu.

Nonetheless, the next day, Lilah got a runny nose and a sudden bad cough.  I called the doctor.  “She’s got exactly the symptoms Jeanette had initially,” I said.  “And Tamiflu worked on Jeanette.”

“That’s very helpful to know,” the doctor replied, before calling in a prescription for Tamiflu.

The next morning, Lilah sounded a hell of a lot less like a four-pack-a-day smoker.  She had what was more or less a bad cold, but no fever.  “Does Tamiflu really work that quickly?” I asked the doctor when we went in.

“People who take it say it does,” she replied.  “It is most efficacious when we catch flu early.”  So, in other words, because we had seen Jeanette’s symptoms, we knew that Lilah had probably caught the flu, and gave her Tamiflu early on, reducing what might have been an ugly illness into a much less frightening scenario.

Because I am fascinated by such things, I asked the doctor how Tamiflu works.  Apparently, it is an antiviral drug that attacks a particular virus.  While an antibiotic will kill all sorts of bacteria, an antiviral drug targets a specific virus.  In this case, Influenza A.

Since Lilah is a little young to have a placebo effect, it is quite likely that the Tamiflu is responsible for her quick turnaround.  It is also possible that she simply fought off a cold, but I saw how bad she looked Wednesday night and then I saw her Thursday morning, and either that baby has a hell of an immune system or the Tamiflu accomplished something.

And, since it is targeted at Influenza A only, the only way it could have done a damned thing would be if Lilah had the flu.  Got it?

Also, according to my doctor, who was at this point probably tiring of teaching me Pre-Med 101, there isn’t really any seasonal flu at this point in the year. Anyone who has the flu probably has H1N1.

Now, since I am a responsible citizen, I called the preschool immediately.  I told them to get the boys out of class and I’d be there to pick them up in ten minutes.  We could have wasted a half-hour culturing Lilah, but it would have been inconclusive because she had taken two doses of anti-viral medication.  I just booked it to the preschool and got the boys, who were packed up and waiting in the lobby, none-to-happy to be removed from school because their sister had a cough.

When Benjamin got a sudden bad cough Thursday night, I called the doctor again.  He started on Tamiflu.  Again, we didn’t culture first because we wanted to get on the drug as soon as possible.  Because it is an anti-viral drug that stops the spread of the virus through the body and works best if started as soon as there are any symptoms.

I also called the parents in his class to tell them the symptoms and what the doctor had said.  If catching it early really is the key to treating it, I figured those parents would want to know.

When Zachary and I started with the noses on Friday morning, we zoomed into the doctor’s office.  It was time for a damned culture, because I was having a hard time believing we actually all had H1N1.  There was no fever, nothing but a cough and runny nose.  While I know that could very well be due to the drug, it is hard to believe something is the flu without a fever.  And I wanted to know if we all needed to get the vaccine, not to mention that I figured the other parents at the preschool might like some answers.  We got cultured and left with prescriptions for Tamiflu, with instructions to start it should the symptoms pick up.

Late that evening, Zachary’s nose and cough got worse, and I was suddenly completely exhausted and achy.  Of course, that might be due to the aupairbeingsickbabybeingallergictogarlickidsbeinghomefromschoolovendoorfallingoff combination.  We started the drug and were better by the next morning.

There are two possible ways to interpret these results.  Either we all had a cold and it went away after affecting each of us to different levels.  Or we all had H1N1 and treating with Tamiflu prevented us from getting any bad symptoms.  I lean toward Option A.  Our doctor leans toward Option B.  Only one of us has an M.D.

Either way it doesn’t matter, as Tamiflu would have rendered us all non-contagious by Monday morning if it were H1N1.  If it wasn’t, we were non-contagious because we weren’t sick anymore by mid-day Saturday.  The doctor had told me we could take the boys to school Monday if they showed no symptoms or if they had been on Tamiflu 24-48 hours.

Try convincing the school of that.  I was informed Saturday evening that we needed a doctor’s note to return to school – verbal permission was insufficient.  That would have been helpful information to have while the doctor’s office was still open.  Say on Friday.  When we were at the office.

I did manage to get a note, but let’s just say I think my kids’ doctor has informed the answering service to forward any more calls from me to Zimbabwe.  And I’m bringing muffins into the office today.  Chocolate ones.

So, we marched into the school with a note permitting our re-entry on Monday.  I stuck around for the parent-group meeting, but I was pulled out.

“We need you to get your doctor to call in and tell us that you all didn’t have H1N1,” the administrator told me.

“But, she does think we had H1N1,” I replied.

“Swine flu does not cure itself in a few days,” she went on.

“No, we all took Tamiflu.”

“Tamiflu just shortens the duration of the flu.  Our nurse told us,” she said.

“Well, my doctor seems to think that Tamiflu stops the spread of the virus through the body.”  She may think this because that’s what the drug insert says.  Or because she has an M.D.  I’ll see your nurse and raise you a doctor, dammit.

“Parents are hysterical.  We need to reassure them that your kids didn’t have H1N1.”

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you.  I am not going to lie to people.”

She looked at me accusingly.  “When a parent make a phone call like that, people get hysterical.”  To me, the only people who seemed hysterical were the administrators who appeared to believe they were physicians.

Now, here’s the thing.  There is a kid in Benjamin’s class whose baby sister has such bad asthma that she had gotten breathing treatments every week for the past month, twice being admitted to the hospital.  There’s another kid whose mother is about to have a baby.  If there is a chance that my kid has a treatable illness that he could have passed on to their kids, I am damned sure going to give them that information.  So that they can, you know, treat it if their kids get it.

“Look,” I said to the administrator.  “All I have that I can count on is my integrity.  I am not going to lie to people.”  And, may I add, that while your neighbor’s dogcatcher’s fiance’s hairdresser may claim that Tamiflu masks symptoms or turns your hair blue or whatever, our doctor seems quite confident that it stops the damned virus.  I am going with what she said.  “I spent hours yesterday getting you a doctor’s note because you didn’t ask for one until the office was closed over the weekend.  I bothered my doctor on a Sunday.  There’s not much else I can do until the culture comes back.”

So, we’ll find out in a couple of days whether our whole family had H1N1 or whether it was just a cold.  Until that time, I am not about to bother my doctor for anything except to drop off muffins.  And I’m bringing my perfectly healthy children to school.

The kicker?  I got a note sent home with my kids yesterday admonishing me for incorrectly signing the boys out on Thursday.  The day that the administrators pulled them out of their classes and had them waiting for me at the door, far from the sign out sheets in their classrooms.  Because I had voluntarily informed the school of the possible illness and pulled my asymptomatic kids from their classes.

Because I am all considerate like that.

I’d like to lodge a complaint with the universe

It has long mystified me that otherwise rational people willingly choose to pour artificial coloring and flavoring down their gullets by the canful.  Seriously, people, if beverages were meant to be bright red and filled with tiny bubbles, nature in her wisdom would have filled the rivers with Diet Cherry Fresca or whatever that crap is called.  I just don’t get the appeal of soda, which is way too sweet and in no way resembles an actual food source.

My husband, on the other hand, loves that shit.  He drinks at least ten cans of diet soda on any given weekday.  No joke.  He claims he needs the caffeine to stay awake, which makes sense given that he is never quite sure what time zone he’s in, but it’s still absolutely astounding that the man has an esophagus left.

He promised me before we had kids that he would not let them see him drinking that crap, because for all that I want them to learn to drink alcohol responsibly, there is no earthly reason for them to think soda is an acceptable beverage.  I think he’s slipped up a bit, since every time we are in the grocery store, they point to the soda aisle and proclaim, “Daddy’s drink!”

So, when I saw in the bottom of our stroller a crushed green can with a little bit of pink residue around the rim, I knew to whom it belonged. Unlike paper bits or leaves, there is only one person in our household who buys, refrigerates, or consumes soda.  And there was no way I was going to throw it away for him, because it’s bad enough I sometimes have to get his damned soda cans out of my car.

Now, keep in mind that we fold up the stroller and put it away every night.  OK, sometimes we forget, like one night last weekend.  But most nights we bring it in, and I just left that can in the basket and folded it away.  Last Saturday, J noticed and even commented on it, whereupon I told him he could throw his own damned can into the blue bin.  Yet, come Monday morning, when he left for his business trip, there it sat, swinging along under our umbrella stroller.

Maybe it was the sick au pair who weakened me.  Or maybe I was grateful that her key had finally arrived and she could move back into her room.  Or maybe it was just because it was Wednesday and our bins were down at the curb, making it easier to empty out the rubbish in the bottom of the stroller.  Whatever the reason, I reached down to throw away the crushed diet soda can.

Sitting coyly underneath were Jeanette’s keys.

It is a credit to my sense of humor that I did not file for divorce at that moment.  I do not know whether we should blame Jeanette for leaving the keys there, even though she swore up and down she had locked her door.  Or if we should blame J for not throwing away his soda can.  What I do know is that there is one adult in this scenario who had nothing to do with the house keys sitting out in front of our house all night long, the police arriving on Saturday morning, and the au pair crashing on the couch while breathing flu-infected fumes all over the place.  Nonetheless, I managed to see the whole thing as kind of funny.

Until Lilah woke up at 3:00 from her nap with a deep, seal-like cough.  The baby had been sporting a runny nose all morning, but the cough sounded just like what Jeanette had before she developed full-blown flu.

I called the doctor’s office and made an appointment for the next morning – Thursday.  The receptionist said she’d talk to the doctor about whether Lilah should be seen sooner.  When I hadn’t heard back by 5:30 and the cough was getting worse, I called the office again.  The service picked up and said they’d page the doctor.

Fortunately, we were armed with some information.  We knew just what this illness would look like another day in, because Jeanette had already gone through it.  Plus, we knew that Tamiflu would cure this virus, because it had worked on Jeanette.  The doctor was able to call in a prescription from her car.  The only problem was how I was to get to the pharmacy to pick up said prescription.  Because by now it was 6:30, someone had to watch the kids, and Jeanette still couldn’t be near the as-yet-asymptomatic boys for another twelve hours.  Nor does she drive.  The drugs were in one place but the sick baby was in another.

I called a friend, who will hereby be known as W, since she has objected to the pseudonym of Wanda.  She came, picked up Lilah’s insurance card, and spoke to me in very calm tones while I hyperventilated before she headed off to CVS,.  Where she proceeded to wait for two hours.  It seems that the CVS did not have the dosage the doctor had prescribed, nor were they particularly willing to call around looking for it at this time of night.  Only when W insisted did they call the doctor to try to work out an alternative.

Finally, at 9:00, W arrived back at my house with capsules for me to split in half and somehow shake the dust into Lilah’s mouth.  Whatever.  At that point, I would have accepted the medicine dissolved in a large can of Diet Coke.

I took Lilah in yesterday morning for that appointment, where I was informed by the good doctor that, given that it is early October, this is probably not seasonal flu.  And, given that the baby responded to Tamiflu, it is probably H1N1.  A nasal wash would not be conclusive, as Lilah had already taken two doses of the white powder.

Fanfuckingtastic.  Needless to say, I headed right for the preschool and picked up my sons.

Because we caught it early, the Tamiflu is very effective, and after two doses Lilah had stopped sounding like a four-pack-a-day smoker trying to do a triathalon.  As of this writing, Benjamin has also begun to show symptoms.  His nose was runny and he was coughing deeply, which is usually cause for me to tell him to go get a tissue, but given the circumstances means he, too, is infected.  He started on Tamiflu last night.

My au pair is back in the saddle and no longer contagious.  Zachary has no symptoms yet, but he is pissed as hell that he cannot go to school just because his brother and sister are sick.  Today is Simchas Torah, and there is a big celebration planned.  I called all the parents in Benjamin’s class to warn them that if their kids suddenly started with runny noses and deep coughs, they should probably call the doctor.  J got back from the East Coast late last night and had to push past the police tape marked “Plague” to get to the front door.  I think he slept in contamination gear last night.

And me?  Well, my throat is a bit sore and my neck and shoulders ache.  But somehow I think that is just as likely exhaustion as anything viral.  On the bright side, with all the stress, I have baked three batches of muffins this week.  They turned out great, and I’ll post the refined recipes next week.  There’s nothing like fresh, home-baked, healthy muffins when you’re sick.

My husband, however, prefers diet soda.