Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I had the swine flu. (Unfortunately, that doesn't sound as good in English as it does in German.)

It was the genuine "novel H1N1." My son came down with it at the same time, two days after he got to Japan. In Japan, they're still pretty much in full freakout mode over the disease, so he got checked specifically for swine flu and tested positive. Since the odds that we would get sick with two different flu strains at the same time are minuscule, I'm assuming that's what I had too.

Here's what it was like to have the swine flu.

My main symptoms were fever (generally under 102), body aches, lethargy, lack of appetite, and a mild cough. The first day, I came down with chills/fever and body aches. The chills and fever seemed "normal," but the body aches were rather unusual. Generally, I'm kind of stoic about pain. Maybe it has something to do with my Aspergerishness; I don't really know, but usually I don't pay much attention to it. (Pain don't hurt, after all.) But I found the body aches quite painful and distracting.

On the second day, still with all the symptoms except for the chills, I managed to drag myself to the urgent care, where they charged me an extra $50 because I was contagious. Seriously. Once I got through triage, they put a "See as soon as possible" tag on my paperwork (so I got to skip ahead of three people -- it was a summer afternoon), they put me in a room with a door rather than behind a curtain, and the doctor wore one of those clear plastic shield thingies over his face. For that, they charged me an extra 50 bucks.

Anyway, chills, sudden-onset moderate fever, body aches, mild cough -- the doctor agreed with my diagnosis: influenza. (Since they don't test specifically for swine flu unless the patient is hospitalized, he was noncommittal on the "swine" part.) He prescribed Tamiflu, and I dragged myself over to the pharmacy near my house. The Tamiflu cost $105 for 10 pills (twice a day for five days).

The third day, I felt much better. No more aches, no more fever. "Tamiflu rocks!" I thought. But then on the morning of day four, Bam! everything came back. Chills, fever, body aches, cough. I decided that Tamiflu didn't rock nearly as much as I first thought. I wondered if I had a resistant strain or something.

But I started to feel a little better that night, and on day five I was actually much better. I ate some real food and everything. The weird thing about the Tamiflu was that I was taking it every 12 hours, but it seemed to start wearing off every 9 or 10 hours. A lot of medicines seem to do that kind of thing with me. I suspect it's because of my bigness, though of course I don't know for sure. I've only ever had one doctor try to adjust medication for my size. That was in Japan. I don't know why no one else does it. It seems logical that a bigger body requires more medicine than a smaller body, doesn't it?

Anyway, on day six I was pretty much well, although I took it easy and just laid around all day to be on the safe side. So that's what it was like to have the swine flu. Five or six days of illness, with three of them really sick. But except for the body aches, there was nothing unusual about it. In fact, the cough was actually milder than I expected.

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