Day 17 NaBloPoMo: A quickie on germs

Spotrick suggested germs as the first thing when I asked, so that’s it! He has germs currently and predictably as he has just started his holidays.

 

Predictably, because he often gets some infection during his holidays from work- he had a virus of some sort during the year when he had 2 weeks off and has done this regularly for years. I usually try to get him to take a few Panadol for any pain and fever and drink lots of tea, as he can be a bit of a drama queen when ill! [Who does that remind you of in your life, hmm??] However, this time, he came down quite suddenly with something that made his chest very noisy- he sounded just like our expiring kitty (Moustiers) during the night and wheezed audibly in the morning! As I’m usually the one who wheezes with germs as I’m the pet household asthmatic, I sat up and took notice when he co-opted my sound effect!

 

He sounded so dreadful that I envisaged him getting pneumonia if he didn’t start to recover straight away, so I rang his GP and got an appointment for midday. Thank goodness the doc didn’t dither about- Spotrick came home with a nice box of antibiotics. It’s just over 24 hours since he started taking them now and he does sound a lot better. His temperature is going up and down, but drinks of water, Panadol and the fan seem to fix him- nothing drastic going on thankfully!

 

I reckon I had this germ about 5 or 6 weeks ago- but I don’t think I got a bacteria on top of the original virus as the bronchitis didn’t really hit me. Spotrick is describing the same feeling I had, of lungs and throat “coated with cling-wrap” and a feeling of not being able to breathe deeply enough. I hate the sensation that there is a layer of something between the air I need and the bits of my lungs that need to suck it in- it’s a very asthma-ish sensation, yet I can tell the difference. I imagine it is quite alarming for someone who has never suffered asthma- it really feels as though you are suffocating. When I had it before, I did my usual home treatment of increasing my preventer medication (it’s a combination inhaled steroid and bronchodilator) and drinking lots of water, resting as much as possible and propping myself up on pillows at night. I expected to have trouble breathing (and thus not sleeping) for 2 nights and then I would either start to recover or be crook enough to head to the doctor’s for further treatment. Luckily, untrue to form, I started to recover within 2 nights and was pretty good after 4 days, not needing any more help. I’m glad Spotrick didn’t have it when I did because I wouldn’t have been able to help him at all, I was so stuffed with it myself.

 

I wonder if other asthmatics are as vigilant as I am about catching colds and flu? I had such awful, near-death experiences throughout my childhood that as I grew older, I was determined to stay free of infections as much as I damned-well could! If I got a sore throat or a runny nose, I’d start my own remedies, such as extra vitamin C, lots of water to drink and not exerting myself too much physically- I didn’t want to provoke the ghastly asthma. My preventive efforts and habits have continued through the years and these days I hardly ever have troublesome chest infections, whereas I was pretty much constantly ill for the first 20 to 25 years of my life. There was hardly a period of one month when I wasn’t on some sort of antibiotic- I could never taste things properly because of that poisonous odour/flavour from the mould-cultivated antibiotics!

 

When flu vaccinations first started I couldn’t have them as the first one I tried gave me an anaphylactic reaction- luckily at the doctor’s surgery where he could give me some adrenaline and oxygen. I knew I had an allergy to eggs- I hadn’t eaten them since I was fourteen- but didn’t know the vaccine contained egg protein. The arm blew up like a football and itched and bruised for weeks- ghastly. For a few years I had several cold and flu-like episodes per annum and then I asked to try the vaccine again, as they said they had improved them so that the egg protein was minimised. For a few years I got quite a red, angry arm after the injections, but these days no reaction at all- woohoo! Nevertheless, the doc always makes me stay 15 minutes in the waiting area after the shot, just in case I keel over. I didn’t even have any ill effects from the Swine flu vaccine, unlike a few friends who said it made them feverish and sniffy. Who knows if that was the vaccine or some minor germ they had caught?

 

Just an aside about annual flu vaccinations and people who work in hospitals. I worked for years in a large local hospital- in research, but having contact with the patients. My office was shared with other researchers and admin staff. As the years went by, nurses started doing the research and I noticed that the free flu vaccine cart started to come around during late summer and early autumn- for the nurses. What horrified me was that NONE of the nurses I worked with would have the flu vaccine, even though most still had patient contact. Every single one said they were “naturally healthy” and didn’t need it- that the flu wouldn’t hurt them and they could fight it off. Naturally I asked them why they wanted to risk GIVING the flu to people who were already vulnerable by being ill and in hospital- captive under the charge of nurses and doctors who might give them the flu if unvaccinated. These allegedly knowledgable, responsible human beings told me they “would know” if they were infectious and would not have contact with patients (they didn’t mention other staff). How have these idiots managed not to notice that most viral infections are passed on BEFORE symptoms become evident? I was (and remain) truly appalled that medical staff could be so blatantly uncaring- I felt lie reporting them to someone- but they pointed out that vaccination is not compulsory, so if they don’t want it, they are not required to. Some even said that they “hated needles” so much they wouldn’t be vaccinated against anything- they’ll be in trouble if they try to travel to Asia and other places! In my opinion, these people need a compulsory in-service course on public health and disease prevention, plus their bosses need to get down and dirty and confront them with their shonkiness as they’re downright dangerous!!

 

There’s my rant!

Here’s an account of what happened once flu vaccine was made mandatory in St Louis, USA, last season:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20064039

We should do that in Australia- we worry enough already about people acquiring new illnesses while in hospital.

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