Recently, we experienced an illness in our home that left us quite literally: gasping for air – for weeks! It is probably one of the longest illnesses in our home and appears to be lingering into week #3 which starts today. I honestly do not remember the last time I could not get out of bed for days. It is uncharacteristic and honestly, with all that is going around it sure caught us off-guard. We thought we caught something from our trip and it is likely we did but then once we returned to dry, windy Colorado, it got even worse.
For fourteen years I have received the flu vaccine and until last week, I never got the flu. Well, there’s a first for everything. Oddly, my daughter also got the flu and I could not even move- I felt like doing nothing! In any case, after about 9 days of this, and my flu symptoms were gone, I still could not stand up straight without getting winded or throwing up from coughing so hard. It was horrible. My low-grade fevers returned and I was immobilized yet again. Of course, with the CDC warnings and the latest trend of all doctors running scared of prescribing antibiotics for anything, I was having a tough time with my doctor’s visits. So, here is the timeline of what happened:
Tuesday February 21 nighttime- it hits – first the coughing started and on…
Wednesday February 22- our plane ride home, I had a fever and so did my daughter. We were all running on empty by the time we arrived home. It was a long plane ride and lord knows how many people we infected on that ride. I thought, hey it’s probably just my body needing rest, I should be good to go in two days which is normal for us- two days and usually we are fine with anything – viral or not. My husband was also feeling ill by the time we landed and feverish too. But he still went to work the next day and my younger daughter was fine so we made sure to separate her from the sick people- ie. me and older daughter.
Friday, February 24- older daughter and I were both diagnosed with the flu. Because it was almost day 3, TamiFlu is less effective but my doc prescribed it anyway. This probably was a bad idea in retrospect because I was already on day three and Tami Flu has tons of side effects- the worst of which is nausea and vomiting so while I felt better by Sunday, February 26, on Monday February 27, I stopped taking it due to a horrendous vomiting episode in which I basically lost all the food I took-in for the day.
Also, on Sunday February 26-Monday February 27, our little one who had managed to escape the illness ended up getting an infection called pink eye. This was our first pink eye in our family. She probably got it from gymnastics class or her bday party (held at a gym). In any case, another day of productivity lost. Anyway, she needed drops and after 24 hours of the first dose, would be safe to go to school.
On Monday, I was well enough to work from home while nursing the sick younger kid but then hubby was fine. My older daughter was recovered too although I regressed and slowly and surely by.. Wednesday, February 29, (yes leap day – an extra day of sickness), I was laying on my office floor by mid-afternoon praying for death. It felt horrible and to top things off, the doctor I saw would prescribe nothing but rest and some cough suppressant with codeine. Well, codeine is not good for me- it stays in my system for a long time and I was continuously drowsy. I took the cough suppressant stuff but was still up nights hallucinating from the codeine, vomiting, or praying I would just get better. In any case, I managed to get myself up the next day and take myself to a practice near my home and they took chest x-rays. My cough sounded horrible and I looked like a walking zombie. They ruled out pneumonia but the doc was still concerned that my flu had morphed into a secondary bacterial infection and prescribed azithromycin and thank God! By Friday, March 2, I was able to work from home again, and had the strength to make food… just 24 hours after the first dose and by Sunday, March 4, I was feeling well enough to walk to the park with my kiddos. Granted, I was not ready to run yet.
Poor hubby though, right around the time I started feeling better, he was getting worse and today we start week #3 of all of us being sick and it is back for him with a vengeance. He has never had anything this long and he finally went to see the doc’s today but alas, they recommended rest and an inhaler. Yeah, here’s a little secret for you all: Inhalers are useless for me and I can hardly use one- how can you breathe in at the same time you are pumping something in your mouth- seems unnatural. In any case, I always laugh when the docs now recommend a worthless inhaler in lieu of the unpopular antibiotics- yeah, that is not the CDC “do not prescribe” list… YET! But soon… soon it will be.
As of today my older one now has pink eye too and hubby is taking a sick day after years of never taking one unless it was for the care of the sick kiddos. Man!
Update 1 – it is now well into week #4 after our return home, THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2012 and my sore throat is getting worse. Of course, we had a backyard/nearby fire in the meantime which irritated things even more. Hubby is feeling better and hoping to do the half-marathon this weekend but me, I am feeling horrible. On March 16, my birthday, they ruled out strep but said there is fluid behind my ear and the sore throat is viral. Praying we all get well soon to enjoy a wonderful Spring and Summer!
Update 2- it is now week #5 of our illness starting, and March 21 and it looks like my older daughter is running low-grade fevers but just at night or late in the afternoon. The school thought they were over 105 but they are really only about 100-101 so nothing to worry about but nonetheless, it is exhausting to have a sick household for this long. I hope this weekend goes better and we can all be recovered to celebrate… April Fool’s Day! 🙂
Lessons Learned and Why I wrote this article: I am not writing this just for my health (ha- pun intended) but rather to tell you that you have to be your biggest advocate. Health care in this country is not kind even to those with good insurance. I can’t even imagine not having health care. What I learned from a friend or two, you have to call (ie. “bug”) your docs often and talk with the nurse line as things are progressing. If they can call-in something great but here is a secret: they will never Rx antibiotics over the phone now especially since the new scare is “some super disease is going to take over the world and all yea who have taken antibiotics will die instantly.”
I doubt that is true and all I really care about is getting better. And let me assure you I am not the one who runs to the docs the instant she is sick – granted, I will run my kiddos to the doc the instant they are. I am not the one who the docs need to be worried about abusing the system but as time as gone on I am losing my patience with the medical community. I am a mother of two, a wife of one, and have two full-time jobs outside the home – being sick for 12 days (instead of just 2-3) is not something I care for nor will tolerate, and if it means my immunity will be lower or my resistance lower to whatever massive disease is brewing, so be it. I will cross that medical bridge when it is time but for now…. I have a home and family to take care of and most importantly, to get well so I can take care of myself too so I can do all of the above. So, if that means I take an antibiotic to reduce the time it takes me to get well, so be it. I do not take antibiotics willy nilly and certainly have not been this sick for a stretch more than once every three years.
I am almost 40 and I figure if some horrible outbreak was supposed to happen, it may have happened by now anyway. I certainly do not believe everything the big bad government tells me nor am I susceptible to giving into fears. All I know is that I paid $5.00 co-pay for a drug that made me, ME again and I paid over $15.00 in co-pays and lord knows what for lab tests and x-rays that did nothing for me. But it gave me peace of mind and ruled out something more serious. When I go to the doctor, it is because I have tried everything else first and I want to get well not to get a lecture in what I already know – drink fluids, rest and here, use this frigging inhaler. I go to the doctor because I do not have access to drugs to treat myself and trust me, I know what is wrong with me on more occasions than a random doctor knows. I know my body, am quite in-tune with it and I tend to take decent care of myself albeit not excellent care.
All I am saying is that you have to advocate for your child and for you. If you know you need something, ask for it. As a friend said, build a rapport with your doc enough to say … “I get it – you do not want to give antibiotics but I need you to do this or I will find someone who will understand my health needs and my personal needs better than you – I want to allay your fears. I will not abuse drugs but after 9 days, I am coming to see you because I have accepted defeat and ultimately, need them so I can take care of things that others cannot- ie. My small children. Please understand me as a patient and I am wiling to keep you as my doctor – my most trusted adviser in health matters that I choose to discuss with you.”
If that doesn’t work, and the games do not work either (ie… yes blood is literally shooting up through my lungs), I know a Canadian pharmacy on line that I can recommend. Ha! In any case, you must advocate for yourself and your children in health care especially in a time when doctors are a dime a dozen, insurance and health industry are so corrupt, and when the cost is just too high to wait another a few days to go see the doctor again. Don’t take no for an answer and if you must, find a new doctor, or make sure your kids go to medical school and become the best damn doctor out there!
Happy Spring all and here’s praying that we are in our final week of the pandemic outbreak of viral/bacterial HELL!