John + H1N1 After More Than A Month—Further Notes

I’ll tell you this: it’s only been the past week or so I’ve felt at all like a human being. A couple of days ago I went back to my doctor to get my regular medications refilled (I’m one of the earlier patients to take omeprazole or Prilosec, so that, a heart medication and one other daily pill constitute my pharmaceutical intake for now, although I’ve been warned that will shortly change); I’d last seen him while still in the process of dealing with the bug, so I asked him point blank whether I’d had H1N1 or something else.

“Oh, yes,” he said. There was no doubt in his mind, especially after I wound up with pneumonia as an aftereffect. (Yeah. I know. Some after-party.) That alarmed me, but didn’t surprise me in the slightest. Almost a month out of my life because of this thing.

So I’ve learned some lessons and want to continue trying to pass them along through this little blog, here in the form of talking points:

1. I can see how people have died from it. Several times I should have gone to the hospital myself, though I didn’t, in my case from a preternatural fear of hospitals; but that’s my issue—all the same, I’d ceased to be ambulatory, it was up to me to say yes and I said no, emphatically. Any miscalculation would’ve been my fault, so I own that decision. As events worked out, I was blessedly able to muddle through. Here in the GTA and elsewhere, people are dying from it, particularly the young and those with other conditions, so be sure that if you get it and beat it, always remember that you did, it happened. Light a candle. Light two.

2.   The symptoms, as we all know, are: fever, cough, runny nose, lethargy, sweats, and most tellingly of all from my perspective, the “boomerang effect”—just when you think you’re beginning to rally, back down again you go. When you start feeling these, you have two choices: A. Get your ass to the hospital, and let them make decisions based on the way you present; and B. Stay home and take your chances. I’d choose A. above if I were you.

3. You might say Meh about some aspects of the “new normal,” i.e. washing your hands, be careful the surfaces you touch, etc., and I refuse to become paranoid on the subject even now, but I’d much rather take an extra spritz of something cool and refreshing rather than, oh, let’s see here, how about dropping over dead—which, as I’ve said, all but happened in the very chair on which I’m sitting my grateful ass down to write this post.

4. Get the vaccine. Just get it. If not, be prepared to endure what I did. Who gives a shit about long lines? People here are literally waiting all day for their shots without much in the way of complaint, and if I hadn’t already gotten the goddamn bug I’d be out there with them. Don’t take a chance. Don’t suffer. If you have kids, don’t let them suffer.

5. When I first started showing symptoms, I made a joke about it. “Oh,” I said. “This is a great way to clear a path to the bathroom if you’re in a crowded bar: ‘LOOK OUT, SWINE FLU COMIN’ THROUGH—'” Except suddenly I had it for real, for a shoot, and I didn’t laugh as much anymore because my lungs were filling with fluid and it hurt like all hell to breathe.

If you have symptoms, it’s no joke. Sisters, brothers, take seriously what your bodies say. Just get your ass to the doctor. Do not do what I did. I didn’t believe I’d catch it—”Oh, it’s like winning the lottery, I play but I never win, so how could I be so unlucky as to catch this?” Guess what—luck has nothing to do with it. Science, however, does.


About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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