For those who don't know, we've been working with the Public Health Agency of Canada on H1N1 pandemic preparedness ads pretty much since "swine flu" (we don't call it that) first hit the headlines. I'm actually working on the next phase of the campaign right now, getting ready to record a radio PSA.
With all my involvement telling others how to prepare, I always wondered in the back of my mind how I would react to H1N1 in my household.
Well, last weekend my (almost 5-year-old) son developed a sore throat, then aches, then a cough. He just lay around all day, not moving or eating much. By Sunday night he had a high fever. At the same time, my health was also going downhill but not as dramatically.
Of course, we spent the night looking up info on H1N1 symptoms and watching him breathe. No respiratory distress other than congestion, but it was still a scary vigil. Kids have died of this thing. Local kids. Unless you're a parent, it's hard to understand what it's like worrying about a very sick child. You wish you could take it upon yourself.
When morning came, he was the same but stable. Advil had brought the fever down to moderate levels. I tried to be a good and brave citizen, and instead of rushing to emergency I stayed home and called my family doctor's office. Amazingly, my doc himself phoned back and went over the symptoms and timelines with me.
If there are any other worried parents out there, let this be my own personal PSA.
Know the symptoms
• Cough and fever
• Muscle aches
• Sore throat
• Decreased appetite
• Runny nose
If you get flu-like symptoms and are pregnant or have underlying health problems contact your healthcare provider.
If you get flu-like symptoms and are otherwise healthy, you should stay home to recover. If your symptoms worsen or you experience difficulty breathing or serious shortness of breath, it is important to seek medical attention.
The American flu site adds the following cautions:
What are the emergency warning signs?
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Severe or persistent vomiting
The CDC site also has an online self-diagnosis tool: link.
By the way, I'm really glad I called my doctor. "Not H1N1", he said. The onset of symptoms was too slow, and it wasn't severe enough. Apparently a bad — but less novel — respiratory infection has been going around. The Ladman is still lounging away at home today, but he's slowly recovering. We were told to keep monitoring, and if he doesn't get better in a couple of days—or worse, seems better then suddenly relapses— we need to go back for medical care.
I won't get into questions about the flu vaccine (which I guess he'll still need to get) here. I just wanted to remind everyone to get your information from trusted sources, stay vigilant, keep calm, don't run to the ER at the first sign of trouble... and try not to take your work home with you.