Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Pig Sick- Observations on Swine Flu

Posted on: August 24, 2009

I have the immune system of a blancmange.

I once asked my Doctor if there was anything I could do about this and his answer was that you get what you’re born with.

I still persevere with a healthy diet- I will usually choose fruit over chocolate- but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. If there is anything going I can be certain to catch it, and it will take ages to shake off.

Hence, with the outbreak of swine flu I knew it was only a matter of time.

I had spent most of Summer with a cold which would disappear for a few days then return like some mangy homing pigeon. I had even joked with a colleague: All I need is aching joints and I could take a week off with swine flu.

Two weeks ago I started to get the cold symptoms again. Thinking it was just the cold coming back I drove into work. As I pulled in I started to get chest pains. I began to wonder if it was a heart attack, but as the pains eased I got out of the car and found that I was distincly wobbly.

Going into work I chatted to some of my colleagues, but the whole scene felt hazy and unreal. Then came the diarrhoea, so at that point I decided to phone the swine flu helpline.

After answering the questions I was told in no uncertain terms to go home, go to bed, and get a friend to pick up Tamiflu using the code number I was given.

The use of non-medical staff to diagnose swine flu has led to some criticism, although it is understandable that people flocking to surgeries would not be a good idea. It is also impossible to say with certainty if something is swine flu without tests having been made. As mine has gone over a week I needed a doctor’s note, and the note says ‘flu like illness.’

It certainly is ‘flu-like’ in that the worst symptoms are tiredness and lack of energy. I’m only just managing to spend more than an hour out of bed and still haven’t eaten a full meal after two weeks.

As I work with vulnerable people I am having to stay away, and as our household consists of myself, a child, and a wife with chronic asthma, I’ve spent most of my time in my room. Thank goodness for my laptop, and for friends who have gone for my medication, done little bits of shopping and sent over loads of films to stop me going ga-ga. I did make the mistake of starting to watch one called ‘Doomsday’ which was about the population of Scotland being wiped out by a virus…

My wife Alison has done a fantastic job of ‘barrier nursing.’ If she picked this up it could have very serious implications. I just hope that I can eventually get out of the habit of carrying antiseptic wipes everywhere.

Having access to the internet I have also managed to find things out about swine flu.

It is generally lasting only a week. As I said, my immune system came from the bargain basement, and I can be guaranteed to hold onto things.

It is affecting people to different degrees. I’ve only had real flu perhaps twice in my lifetime, and I have to say that I have had worse than this. Swine flu is just flu- there’s nothing different about it, and it will kill people at the same rate as any other flu. As with everything else in today’s world (pause for fit of sneezing to subside and wait for snout to emerge…) it is hyped up by media hysteria.

So… I’m just waiting now for it to go, so I can get back to normal life and work and stop feeling bored out of my skull. If you are reading this do drop me a line- not a ‘there there’ (it is only flu) but tell me a joke or something interesting from the world out there.

Oh yes, almost forgot. There is one side to swine flu that I feel it is my public duty to warn you about: you may suddenly find that you receive an unusual amount of pig-related merchandise  (cuddly pigs, chocolate pigs, etc.) and e-mail attachments such as this one sent to me by my brother:


Oh well, suppose I’d better just keep using the oink-ment…

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