Tuesday, May 5, 2009

cinco de mayo - swine style


I have about had it up to here with the swine flu.


Not to sound callous or anything, but those two words are the quickest way imaginable lately to drive any medical professional up the Crazy River. The hype, the hysteria, the hypochondriacs with bacon on their breath. It's bad. It's really bad. And it's getting worse.


I'm a hypochondriac myself, sad to admit, but I've lost count of the people who have come in who are convinced they have the swine flu. One or two of them even have an applicable symptom. The rest of them have either been to Mexico lately, eaten in a Mexican restaurant or are able to find Mexico on a world map. One woman told me that she had been to Cancun on vacation (four months ago) and then had coughed a few times that morning. Well, hell. Call the ICU and save me a bed. After further questioning it came out that this gal was a two pack a day smoker and hadn't had a cough free day in twenty years. "Yeah," she said, "but it's the way I'm coughing."


Flu season sucks. Always. And, as many people have pointed out, thousands of people in the US alone die each year of the flu. Almost by definition the flu is respiratory, although people interchange it all the time with "the stomach flu". Well, technically the stomach flu is just a virus, a "bug", but the real flu can - and does - turn ugly fast. Last year was a brutal flu season, providing us with more "oh, my god" moments in the ER than I like to remember. Is this any worse? Not compared to some of the indelible images I have stuck in my head from last year. Not yet, anyway.


Then, to add insult to injury, is the never ending list of precautions and new standards we have to follow. The worst of these, in my opinion, is the goggles. We now have our very own pairs of special droplet resistant goggles that we have to wear in triage. So not only do I have to do all the triage crap I normally do, and deal with all the hypochondriacs that are pouring out of the woodwork, but now I have to do it in these horrible goggles that make me look like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Today, as first line providers, we all got shots to protect against secondary flu symptoms, and those damn shots have frozen up the deltoid muscles of every nurse from here to Puerta Vallarta. Even my Bugs Bunny bandaid doesn't help. Every time I reach up to adjust my Fly goggles my arm cramps up and refuses to move. Every patient who sits down in triage looks at the goggles and freaks. "Oh, my god, it's worse than you people are admitting to. Why else would you be wearing those?" Every time I look in the mirror I freak. "Oh, my god, when did I turn into Jeff Goldblum and how did my eyes get so BIG?" You just can't win.


One of our docs and I bravely marched to get our shots together. I offered to hold his hand if he was a fraidy cat. He suggested something else I could hold instead. I might possibly have called him a pig (among other things). I forget my exact words. This doc and I go round and round on a regular basis. Too bad for me that I adore him, but it's hard to believe he kisses his mother with that mouth.


Swine are definitely among us. Swine flu? I'm still not convinced.

21 comments:

ped crossing said...

Lucky me got sick in the midst of all the swine flu hype. And if I say anything, I get to go to my boss and tell her all my symptoms. And most of them match the swine flu. Then they can decide to close the school. Then we will be going to school until July!!!!

I have been sick for 5 days. I have been keeping my whining mostly to myself. And if I do have the swine flu, I have had it once or twice a year most of the last few years.

Could it just go away already?!?

lv4921391 said...

i don't know if it's the "real mc coy or not", the flu in 1918 i've read was mild, seemed to disappear and then returned with a vengeance.

i do know this has been handled in a "PC" manner...

Maggie May said...

I agree wholeheartedly, RC.
Why has the Government whipped up this rumour of death and doom like they have?
We have it in our city. A whole school has been closed down because of one child who has returned from Mexico and is MILDLY ill.

We always have flu here and it does kill off the weak & vulnerable every year. Why this one is any worse, with its mild symptoms, I don't know.
Of course...... if it does return with a vengeance, then I shall have egg on my face, but that mightn't be the biggest problem of my life, if it does......

Mya said...

Goggles? Oh poor you - ha ha! Sorry, it's just very funny. Not for you, I'm sure though.So glad you've gone public again. Oh yeah, and fuck him.

Mya x

sharon said...

Totally hysterical reaction all over the world. Down here in Oz we are so pathetic that it made the TV News with much fanfare and doom and gloom oh god we are all going to die that 3 Australians in the UK have tested positive! We have NO cases here. Obviously there is the possibility that it will be a second time round baddie but if so surely the more who get it now the better in that at least they should have some immunity for the resurgent virus? Plus it gives time for a vaccine to be developed, or is that just me being simple-minded?

The Gossamer Woman said...

This Mexican flu is so incredibly hyped up, when in fact it's no different from any of the other flus that strike us every year. The news media needs to come out with cold hard facts and not fiction. The governments need to do a better job at informing people also. I've never seen such a storm in a glass of water. You'd think people would have a bit of common sense. I can't believe that even the medical profession is falling for it.

Frances said...

Haha! love that. Did you have to wear goggles for your vaccination? Maybe it was your big, big eyes that got your doctor going. LOL. I often wonder what would happen if we said 'OK' to these guys when they come up with their suggestions.
Here it is the press that are hyping up the flu. Everytime a government official - or any qualified spokesman for Health says 'nothing to worry about', it makes the media more crazy with 'worry' - so they just have to print more yards of rubbish for people to read - so that we can have 'the truth' the politicians are hiding from us - again. aargh.

Thumbelina said...

Nothing like an "imminent pandemic" to get the peoples and managers all hyped up.

Goggles. Tsk. What ever next? *sigh*

Flu sucks? Yeah - and management sucks. :) Hang in there with the pigs. ;0)

Maggie said...

A good dose your medicine is what strengthens my stomach muscles. Love you bunches...

Rudee said...

Well if the curse of working triage doesn't keep you out of there, the goggles are sure to do it.

Katy said...

I had the misfourtune of having a cold last week. The death stars that I got from people as I covered my mouth to cough in a public place. Sorry people! No, I did not go to the doctor. I just paid a visit to my local drug store where I picked up some Tylonal Cold and a box of tissues. Guess what? 5 day latter.. I'm cured!

Iota said...

To understand this comment, you need to pre-know that in England, we call shots, jabs (in Scotland, it's jags, but that's irrelevant).

This made me laugh out loud twice. First it was the goggles. Second was when, as I read it, a little box popped up to tell me I had an email just come in from "Jibjabs" an online photo animation site. The timing was just so perfect.

Pamela said...

My husband had a horrible flue (which he shared with our good friend K & M) All three were just sicker'n dogs. It must have been the dog flue. But don't tell anyone, because I don't want to see any mass executions of pooches.

(Actually, we kind of wondered if it was indeed the swine flu, and it's been here and no one was the wiser.)

Do you think all the hooopla is more of the wag the dog flu, to get our attention off of something else. Like the nukes at risk in P@k1st@n?

Akelamalu said...

The fact that the authorities are saying there's no need to panic, whilst posting us leaflets and ad campaigns makes people automatically panic!!

Devon said...

My kids were hoping someone from their school would get it so the school would close. A classmate just got back from Mexico and they are putting all their hopes on her.

When I was a kid, the 12 year old boy next door died of the flu. I'm always the first to take my kids in for the flu shot!

Mimi said...

Go to this link,which I found on dulwichmum's blog, and you've got the perfect thing for dealing with swine-flu!
http://blog.splendorknitting.com/2009/05/because-every-pandemic-needs-some.html
Now you'll probably have to take a sick-day to knit it, but wouldn't it be so worth it? mimi

Rositta said...

I think things are getting out of hand a little. China took 25 Canadian students off a plane and keeping them in quaranteed for 7 days in an empty hotel and some Mexican students have been refused entry. That's the country that lied about SARS and spread it to Canada where over 40 health care workers died...ciao

Southern Drawl said...

Oh my goodness, I have missed your candor! Tell us how you really feel RC...You had me in stitches. Sorry to laugh but the whole goggle thing is so funny. I can so identify with the patient triage description. However, at least in L&D our pt. pop. is somewhat selective... I can only imagine trying to weed through the masses in the ER. Welcome back, again, you were missed!

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Great post. I loved the bit about the goggles. Poor you. I can see why it doubly freaked out the patients. I'm in the middle of season 3 of 24 where a deadly pneumonia virus is let loose from Mexico. The kid in Emergency, supposedly infected, is being treated by nurses wafting around in NBC type suits & spaceman helmets. It reminded me of that!

Jen said...

I am imagining the goggles, and sorry to say, am getting a pretty damn good chuckle out of it. This makes me so glad I'm not in news anymore.

aims said...

*laughing over here*