Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When Pigs Fly

"Thinking again?" the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little

"I've a right to think," said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried.

"Just about as much right," said the Duchess, "as pigs have to fly...."

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 9.

A pandemic of fear is sweeping the globe, and much of that fear seems to be the fear of the unknown factor. I'll point out at that I am not a doctor, nor associated with the Center for Disease control, just a lowly worker in the medical field.

One thing I understand acutely is a patient's fear. Every day I spend much of my time at work soothing patients' fears about radiation effects, counseling them on a little understood part of everyday life. (Yes! That's right, radiation is a part of everyday life. You can't escape it, it is everywhere). Swine Flu is frightening because we don't know. We don't know precisely how it's being spread (a pig-bird-human strain? whaaat?), who has the highest risk for it, how to save yourself and your family from getting it?

My initial reaction to all this hooplah is, what's the big deal anyway? It's the flu. Sure, if you are elderly, have a miniscule immune system, or are a baby then you are at a higher risk to catch any strain of the flu. It gets me fired up to hear of thousands of people rushing out to get the flu vaccine when I know that the flu vaccine is an educated guess on what the next big flu strain of the year is going to be. On the radio this morning the deejays were discussing how the flu shot has skyrocketed from being previously available for $6 is now up to $70 a shot. The basic supply and demand scenario, and greedy pharmaceutical companies profit from it. Arrgh! But I digress.

Symptoms of the Swine Flu:
You should seek medical attention if have a fever of 102 or if you feel very sick. Swine flu has flu-like symptoms of lethargy or muscle aches or pains, fever, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. Or if you have been to Mexico or in contact with someone from Mexico and you get sick, you might want to seek it sooner. Again and again public health officials emphasize that people should not be going to get medical attention just for the sniffles*. That would swamp medical facilities and make it more difficult for people who actually need medical care for all kinds of reasons, not just swine flu.

What this post all boils down to is this: Use your head. Do you work with pigs? Do you eat raw pork products? Do you like to play with mucus? (I have this revolting vision of people running through sneezes akin to children playing in a sprinkler. I think I may have had too much coffee this morning).

Best way to survive the flu threat?

Wash your hands frequently.

Become a hermit. Only use the internet to interact with people.**

Use anti-bacterial sanitizer if you can’t get to soap and water.

Wear a mask if you need a false sense of security. Most people don’t wear the masks correctly so you may be better off without it and just paying attention to your environment.

Wash your hands frequently.

Knowledge is power. Learn more about it for yourself:

· Center for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization

Yes, the Swine Flu looks like it is gathering speed to become the next big pandemic. Be like Alice, and think, don't be swept up into the panic of the masses. Use standard precautions, attempt to lower your stress level if possible. Happy minds can equal healthy bodies.***

*This little nugget of wisdom is always in effect. I work with ex-ER nurses who bitterly complain that most of the patients they have seen in the past are wasting precious time and resources by patients coming in when it's not an emergency. Go figure, right?

**What? I can advocate my misanthropic ways, can't I? Just because I have the social skills of a gnat doesn't meant that I don't know what I'm rambling on about!

***I'm stepping off my Soapbox now. Thankyouverymuch!

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