Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If life is like a box of chocolates, why do we always get the coconuts.

Sometimes our family feels like the Forest Gump of diabetes. Everything happens to us. Having a diabetic dilemma? We’ve most likely gone through it. Feeling a new emotion about diabetes? We’ve probably felt it. So it should come as no surprise that our family was visited by the much publicized and dreaded swine flu this summer. We were struck near the end of June, so we are far enough away from the outbreak that I can write about it now. Right after we finished up with treatment I made the mistake of telling a few people that we had it, and let’s just say I didn’t get the warm fuzzies I was hoping for. I know there is a lot of angst in the diabetic community over this flu, so I’m throwing my family under the bus and announcing…WE HAD THE SWINE FLU!

Some of you might have read that J went to scout camp in June with my son M. My husband tagged along for the first few days to settle J in and then returned home on a Wednesday. Friday we picked up the boys, Sunday J and my husband were showing symptoms. Ryan’s stomach was off and J was coughing and also had no interest in eating. By Monday morning they both were in full force. Coughing, sick to their stomachs and fevers of 102. Monday night J complained of a sore throat. It wasn’t until then that I thought it might be THE flu. I looked online for a list of symptoms and sure enough, J had them all! Most people have just one or two of the symptoms, but not my little diabetic.

I called the doctor the next morning. I read that you have 2-3 days from the onset of symptoms to begin the Tamiflu or you are on your own. My doctor and I have a pretty good understanding. He believes everything I tell him and I believe he always has the best interest of my children in mind. (He went to med school with our Endo, so we’re tight.) He said, “If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” The only problem was he was not authorized to prescribe Tamiflu. He needed permission from the head of infectious diseases, and that man was holding onto their supply with an iron fist. He hung up not hopeful we would get any, but promised to call me back. It wasn’t 15 minutes later that he called back with the news…Tamiflu for J! And the cherry on top…Tamiflu for B and L who hadn’t shown any symptoms yet. (Only because they were diabetic. M and my husband and I were left to fend for ourselves.) We picked up the prescriptions and J went in for his swab to see if it in fact was the same kind of flu as the H1N1. By this time he was puking. I cannot tell you how sad a sight it is to see your son in the doctor’s office wrenching over a garbage can. J’s test result came back positive as Influenza A, the same TYPE of flu as the swine flu. They did not go further to send our sample out to confirm it. As the swine flu was so prevalent in our community, if it was deemed Influenza A, then they were 95% sure that is was in fact the swine flu.

J got better just 3 days after he began his Tamiflu. The doctor also gave him anti nausea meds that you put under your tongue which really helped. L and B took their Tamiflu and never got the flu at all. M never got it either. My husband got better in 4 days without meds. I got it right when everyone else started feeling better, and I do not feel melodramatic when I say I almost died from the thing. For some reason I got it 10 times worse than J and my husband.

The first couple days it was just a cough and fever. Totally manageable. But on the forth night I began to go downhill. High fever, constant coughing and the worst part, nausea. I spent the weekend getting worse by the minute and by Monday I was in the most pathetic shape of my life. “Shoot me,” I begged my husband. “Smother me with a pillow…something!” I went to the doctor that morning. It was all a blur. I could barely walk and I was in that place where you feel so miserable it is hard to concentrate on the world around you, kind of’ like a cocoon of misery. Fortunately I have a different health plan than the boys, and this doctor threw the Tamiflu at me even though I had had symptoms for 6 days. (Along with anti-nausea meds, antibiotics for my ear infection and drops for the pain in my ear.) I think I was allergic to one of the meds because my nausea became worse that week. I called the doctor begging him to let me stop taking them, but he insisted I finish my 5 day course. Once I finished it took a couple days, but I began to feel a little better day by day.

The first day I dared venture out of the house to my parents; there was news of a 38 year old man in our county that had died from the flu. He just didn’t wake up one morning. He had asthma when he was a kid and the news touted that as an UNDERLYING condition. I think they just say that to make everyone feel better… everyone but families that do deal with underlying conditions. These families are just left to worry. I really feel like that could have been my name in the headline. I have no UNDERLYING conditions. I think the complications just need the right conditions and that could be anyone. A young teenager died last week in our county. She had surgery on her heart when she was 3 days old, and since has been declared at every doctor appointment to be in perfect health. But when she passed away, the newspapers again shouted, UNDERLYING CONDITIONS. Her family spoke up and said they didn’t think that was fair to say that, and I am thankful to them for doing so.

I always try to end on a positive note. So, on the bright side, we were told that J will probably be immune from the other strains of swine flu that will be coming this fall. Also, because M, B, and L were exposed to it, they may be immune as well. B and L will still be first in line for the vaccine, but there are no promises they will be able to get it. Maybe it was a blessing that we got it in the summer. Maybe we will be spared from the worst of it. I have to feel like we dodged a bullet and just got it over with already. J had 2 really bad days and the rest were no big deal to him. He got through it, and if your diabetic gets it, you will too. It is like any illness; just take it a day at a time.
We will survive!!!!!!


  1. All the talk of swine flu on the news has me so scared, but it is good to hear that you guys went through it and came out just fine.

    Not that I'm glad you got the flu (because that's sort of what it sounds like I'm saying), I'm just glad to know that someone with UNDERLYING CONDITIONS (as you so aptly put it), had the flu and got better.

    I really need to stop typing that I'm glad you had the flu.

    Sorry I'm such a dork.

  2. So glad you got through it okay...I think that we've had it our house, too. Jada will still be getting the vaccine, but earlier in the summer she and Mary Beth had flu symptoms about the same time that H1N1 was getting prevalent around here. It's always scarier thinking about what "could" happen than when you're actually going through it. I'm amazed at how our mommy instincts kick in and you just do what has to be done.
    Glad you all got through it!

  3. What I want to know is how you managed with four boys ? the two that I had drove me nuts plus his having type 1 diabetes and me too . god I thought I would never survive . LOL !!!

  4. Yikes, thank goodness you all made it through!

  5. A million thanks for sharing this Meri! I am sure I am not the only parent of a diabetic child worrying about the swine flu. It is very helpful to know that you all survived it! Everytime I read about a swine flu death and a patient with UNDERLYING CONDITIONS I wonder if that person had type1...
    Not glad you all got it, but glad you made it through it !

  6. Thanks for sharing this story with us!! I am so glad everyone is on the up and up!

  7. HOLY JEEPERS!!!!!!!1

    The first round of H1N1 ticked me off...but now it's downright scary...

    So happy to hear that everyone faired okay -- especially the mama!!!!

    Doesn't being the MOTHER of THREE diabetic children qualify as an UNDERLYING medical condition????

    Media. Blech.


Moderation now enabled, so comments will not immediately be seen.