First of all, I'm fine. No flu, yet. My husband, however, has apparently contracted the H1N1 strain of influenza. He told me around a week ago that he felt 'run down' which is fantastically out of character. Then came the sore throat, coughing, body aches, fever, ad infinitum.
While I was urging him to go to the ER as soon as the fever exceeded 101 degrees, his typically male response was to pretend he could 'rub dirt on it,' denying the severity of the symptoms. After a couple of hours he did give in and off we went to our local county hospital.
At the entrance to the Emergency Room were containers holding wipes, masks, and gloves. My husband donned a mask and we entered. Triage was performed quickly, and we were sent to an examination room with little wait.
A nurse entered with 2 pamphlets from the CDC and Public Health regarding H1N1, proclaiming his condition with certainty. I asked her incredulously, "Aren't you going to test for the virus?" She said that the swabbing was no longer done. "No need," she said. Costs and such. We were released with those pamphlets and assurances from the doctor on call as well that, yes, this was the Swine Flu.
I have been doing some research for the past 24 hours and am disturbed at this cavalier attitude toward diagnosis. My husband's symptoms are virtually the same as the seasonal flu.
I am concerned that without consistent testing, statistics are bound to be skewed.
Apparently only those considered 'high risk' are administered swabbing tests, but to confirm H1N1 without proof seems contrary to my understanding of the scientific method.
My concern is primarily due to the fear that his diagnosis has caused in our small community. We live in a town of 4,000 in California's Eastern Sierras, where once he called in to work, the news of my husband's illness/diagnosis had spread at lightning speed. I went to his workplace that day to do some shopping, and the employees were absolutely terrified, warning me not to tell a certain person because of her already existing fear. Hushed tones were thunderous. I felt guilty even coming into the place, concerned that I could be carrying the flu. Worried about that issue myself, I wore a surgical mask, which proved an enormous attention-getter, probably causing even more worry.
There is so much confusion about this virus that I can't help but wonder how the Healthcare Industry can make diagnostic assumptions so casually. The fear is palpable.
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