Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I had a big Thanksgiving Day post all blocked out. I woke up this morning with good ideas about what to say, and planned to spend the morning hunting down sources and writing it all up.

But reality has a way of interfering with the best-laid schemes of mice and men, and mine have most assuredly ganged a-gley.

DoctorsAs you all know, the future Baron contracted swine flu recently, and came home almost two weeks ago to convalesce under the loving and watchful eyes of his parents. The flu itself is all but gone now, but it has almost certainly been replaced by bacterial pneumonia, which is one of the most common sequelae of H1N1, and derives from previously resident (and normally quiescent) pneumococcus bacteria that run amok in the body.

The fB is now on antiviral, antifungal, and antibiotic agents, as well as various medications which treat the most unpleasant symptoms, such as the relentless cough he has had for the past fortnight. He is a one-man exemplar of swine flu pharmacopoeia.

Things have been rather tense for the last few days because of his condition. On Sunday he seemed to be on the mend, with the fever gone and the cough receding. Then the (probable) pneumonia kicked in, and his fever returned. He lost any interest in food or drink, and has spent most of the last three days sleeping.

So no Thanksgiving festivities for us — can’t have visitors, can’t go out. However…

Early this afternoon the fB woke up and said, “I’m hungry.” He had almost no fever, so he got up and fixed himself a couple of platefuls of leftover Chinese takeout. Since then he has been sitting up, tap-tapping on his laptop and reading a book.

So we are thankful. We are actually having a very happy Thanksgiving!

It could have turned out quite differently. Last night Dymphna and I stayed up until four in the morning, anxiously watching our son and waking him from time to time to force medication into him. After that I was up every couple of hours to check on him. I would go in, feel his forehead, and then with deep sense of relief watch his chest rising and falling.

It was very much like having an ailing newborn baby, except that this particular infant was seriously in need of a shave.

So how are we thankful? Let me count the ways.

We are thankful for:
- - - - - - - - -
  • The fact that we will not have to spend all or part of our holiday in an emergency room or a hospital ward.
  • The fact that our son will not have to endure the ordeal of an emergency waiting room and triage while being exposed to all those additional pathogens that he has so far managed to avoid.
  • A chance to sit down together this evening as a family and eat a tasty and simple snack of toasted pita and hummus.
  • The doctors and nurses and medication that made all of the above possible.
  • Our friends and acquaintances who have emailed and skyped us with their best wishes and encouragement.

Also, to all our contributors, translators, tipsters, and readers: thank you! You make this blog possible.

I’ve got a few translations and what not that I will post this evening, if all goes well.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

If H1N1 hasn’t hit your family yet, be very thankful. It is the meanest flu I have ever encountered, and is especially dangerous for young people with asthma, such as the future Baron.

Old fogeys like Dymphna and me don’t have to worry so much: epidemiologists believe that our exposure to the Asian flu back in the early 1950s caused our immune systems to produce antibodies which are still functioning, and which are effective against H1N1.

So if you have youngsters, keep an eye out for two or more of these symptoms: sustained high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and a non-stop racking cough. It’s probably H1N1 rather than the seasonal flu. And, even though the swine flu itself is only somewhat worse than seasonal flu, be aware that the sequelae — the complications that follow the flu — can be deadly.

If the fever dies down, and then comes back, it may be a bacterial infection. Don’t delay at that point — head down to the doctor’s again and get the antibiotics.

You’ll be thankful you did.


laine said...

The future baron is the demographic that is most at risk for H1N1 and its worst complications.

He is lucky to have such devoted parents to care for him.

Thank heavens that he turned the corner without needing ICU admission. I bet that hummus tasted better than even the plumpest turkey of yesteryear.

God bless you all and keep you.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Thank you for keeping us informed. We need Barons now as well as in the future.

The flu is making its rounds in Denmark. Friend of mine probably got it - nothing as heavy as what the fB suffered. I think most of us will get through much easier.

X said...

Congratulations, it sounds like you were particularly hard hit by this, glad to hear that you've all survived the Terror Plague* and are now probably immune to any worse effects. I'm pretty sure the h1n1 went through my family early in the year, we all went down with something flu-like one after the other. I was bed-ridden for two days with it. I know I wouldn't have passed the flu field test (If you can crawl out to a £50 note in the middle of a field it's not real flu).

I'm sceptical of there ever being a real pandemic. The problem, as you've highlighted, is that this flu has very little mercy for people with even slightly compromised immune systems.

* I have a friend in the land of fruits and nuts who believes that swine flu was created by the government and that it's being mutated into killer black-lung destroying flu pneumonia virus plague something-or-other. A bout of pneumonic "plague" being misreported as "new more dangerous swine flu" by politicians scoring points in Ukraine and some reports of people getting secondary infections in the US seems to have set off the conspiracy-mongers.

Anonymous said...

God bless all of you guys on Schloss Bodissey!

Professor L said...

It's good to hear the fB is on the mend. I guess it puts plenty of things into perspective (a perspective that is easy to lose in the modern world), but there's light coming from the end of the tunnel, and it sure as hell isn't a train!

To a quick recovery for the fB, and good health for your family.