http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/fea ... 58397.html
Laid low by swine flu
In this section »
Should Huck Finn get a 21st-century revision?Lead voice in the country woman's associationThey say men ought not to cryDizziness, back pain, sweating, exhaustion, itching, temperature swings and chest pain – five people share their swine flu symptons with Cian Traynor
IT’S BACK. The surge in reported swine flu cases as people return to work and school after Christmas means the usual talk of seasonal ailments is shifting in momentum and scale.
For some, a post-holiday lull in energy levels now means fearing the worst, while bed-ridden others may insist it’s little more than a mild dose of influenza, its threat exaggerated by media scaremongering and the martyrdom of hypochondriacs.
Either way, appetites for festive over-indulgence were ruined for many over the holidays. Crammed social calendars were wiped out as some were forced to kick off 2011 alone in bed, shedding crumpled tissue and cursing their misfortune.
Among those interviewed for this piece, but not included below, one woman quarantined for 10 days coughed up the blunt summation that “it feels like you’re dying”, while a normally resilient labourer admitted to being corralled from bed by a family of unsympathetic nurses.
Wherever you lie on that spectrum, there may be at least some comfort to clutch to in the knowledge that you are not alone.
HEATHER WATTERS (22) Trainee solicitor from Monaghan
I’ve been sick for about a week now and have slowly been getting worse, but because I was vaccinated I haven’t really suffered the full whack of it. Having said that, Im really struggling. Normally I’m a fit person but even walking up stairs is challenging. I’ve got a high temperature but I’m freezing. I’m wearing a thermal snow suit, sitting in a sleeping bag with a blanket over that.
Everything aches. My throat is in pieces; my nose is stuffed. My dad, who is a doctor, told me last night that it could get worse before it gets better and I thought, ‘I really don’t want to hear that’.
I don’t think he even understands it himself. General awareness of what’s going on with this strand of swine flu seems hazy, so I’m just thankful I don’t have any underlying conditions. I genuinely thought I’d be okay after getting the vaccination – swine flu was the last thing I expected.
LEE KUTNER (27) Beauty blogger and personal assistant from Rathfarnham
When you’re sick, you normally curl up and watch telly – but I can tell you, I was lying in darkness. My phones were on silent and the only people I would speak to were my mum and my boyfriend, who I live with.
I’ve no idea how I picked it up. I wasn’t around anyone with swine flu, though I had been feeling lethargic leading up to the last Tuesday before Christmas. Then I had the worst aches and pains; my skin was crawling with fits of itchiness, going hot one minute and cold the next.
I have two young nieces so I wasn’t allowed go to see my family at Christmas. They didn’t want me. I spent a couple of hours at my boyfriend’s family dinner because there was no one who would be at risk, but I would have preferred to be in bed. Those two hours and my trip to the doctor were the only times I left the house for a week.
It was definitely the worst case of flu I’ve ever had. I’ve been slowly recovering since the 28th and I’m back at work, but I’m still not 100 per cent. I have asthma and I normally get the flu jab but this is the first year I haven’t, so I got a lecture from my parents about missing it. It might have saved my Christmas.
DYLAN WALSH (16) Student at Presentation College Bray
I’m 16 today and sick with swine flu – you win some, you lose some. It started off on January 2nd and, as the day progressed, it got worse and worse. Before I knew it I was in bed, in bits; I couldn’t move too fast or everything would spin. My friend had the same flu as me, so when she went to the doctor and was told she had swine flu I copped on.
When I talk, I need to cough and it really hurts my chest. I have a cold, no appetite, no energy but yet I can’t sleep, getting dizzy all the time and I get headaches too.
I’m feeling and looking way better than yesterday, so hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be fine. I will stay in to make sure everything’s okay, so fingers crossed.
I don’t regret not having the vaccination. I think it’s better to fight it off instead of getting this injection and not knowing the side-effects. I believe swine flu is over-dramatic. I still don’t know why it was on the news and everything because really any flu can kill you.
MICHAEL LYNSKEY (19) Student at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology
I experienced headaches, vomiting, chest pain, large amounts of discoloured sputum, severe joint and abdomen pain, fever, cold sweats, photophobia, general malaise, fatigue and dizziness – basically a really bad flu. I’ve still got what you’d compare to a head cold and this is about a week after initially feeling ill. I had no appetite for about three or four days. I didn’t take any antibiotics, just painkillers when needed and as much water as I could stomach.
I was told that H1N1 was around again after my mother suggested it, so I did a quick Google and saw a good few articles about how many cases there were this season. I wasn’t ever concerned for my overall health, just thought it was a bug and it would pass in under a day. It’s ruined a lot of study time for my finals tomorrow but I wouldn’t consider getting the vaccine because it really wasn’t too bad. All three of us in my flat got it at some stage. None of us went to the doctor and we’re not sure where it could have come from, but I was the first to contract it.
There was no guilt or blame, that’s how infections work: I got it off someone and passed it on, simple as that.
JEROME MYBURGH (31) Manages a motorbike parts shop in Dublin
I got on a plane to Morocco two days before Christmas – the idea being that I could spend the holidays somewhere warm for once – but I felt extremely ill within a day. I had been consciously unhealthy for the whole of November and December in the belief that my New Year’s resolutions would make up for it. I was indulging in a poor diet, making no effort to get any vitamins or minerals, and it was too cold to be out exercising.
After I managed to get some sunshine on Christmas day, I went back to the apartment I was staying in and fell asleep. When I woke up two hours later I knew something was wrong.
Three days in, a representative from the travel agency said, ‘you need a doctor’. The GP prescribed me various drugs and I just lay in bed sweating for eight days until it was time to go home. For New Year’s Eve, I crawled into a taxi, saw some fireworks and said, ‘take me home’ just as quick. There was no getting through the pain barrier.
Swine flu attacks the senses in a variety of ways but it gave me the worst back pain I’ve ever experienced. Luckily I had done a big grocery shop on the first day and it was just enough to see me through. It wasn’t particularly fun but, to be honest, it was better to be sick in Morocco with the sun shining through the window than to be stuck at home worried my hands would freeze if they came out from under the duvet..............................continues...........