Piggie, piggie, piggie,
can't you see?
Sometimes your press
can hypnotize me.
My first week back to work in the humble emergency department of the hospital that pays my bills has been dominated by swine flu. H1N1, the "official" name given by those concerned about giving porky a bad rap, has been declared by those who make such declarations as a bonified pandemic. That basically means the following: we can't stop it.
Before you shuffle the wife and kids into the hole under your shed please note the following: so far the swine flu has been fairly benign. Many, many have been infected; the vast majority have recovered quite nicely. Out of nearly 18,000 documented cases (most likely the tip of the iceberg as most folks infected are just waiting this out at home) there have been 45 deaths. No death is to be discounted or diminished in importance to those left behind, but in comparison, world-wide the yearly run-of-the-mill flu kills about 500,000 men, women and children. In perspective, we are doing pretty well.
That hasn't stopped the media's attention, particularly after the pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization. I have been watching the same nuns sitting in a Mexican parish church wearing surgical masks for about three months now on just about every news station. I can only hope they have slept and taken nourishment. All the media attention has stoked the flames of panic for many who have been visiting emergency departments here in my hometown and all over the fruited plain. If you are one of those who have been losing sleep, let me help: Relax. There. All better.
The swine flu has been mainly an upper-respiratory problem: sore throat, cough, fever. For the vast majority of us, this hasn't been or won't be a problem. Plenty of fluids, stay home, tylenol or motrin for the fever, and a few days of rest and all will be well. Just like the yearly flu, though, our elderly, very young, and those with chronic illness and immunity problems are most at risk. Let's make sure we keep an eye on one another.
For those who didn't see my previous post on the swine flu, I will re-post some basic tips on how to keep yourself and your family healthy:
1. Keep your hands clean. Nothing says healthy like soap and water.
2. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Cough and sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands. And, once again, wash your hands. If you are one of "those people" who insists on sneezing in a hanky, one word: DON'T. First, it's gross. Second, your wife has to touch them when she does the laundry. Not fair. Third, its like keeping viruses as pets in your pocket. Not good. Get rid of them and use tissues like the rest of us.
3. Stay home if you are sick. We don't want your germs. No offense.
4. Get some of that sanitizing gel for your hands and keep some at work and at home. It really works. Don't touch your eyes, nose, and mouth if you can avoid it. Viruses look at these as welcome mats.
5. Don't panic. Most of those with H1N1 in the U.S. are suffering from very mild cases. If you feel sick but normally wouldn't go to the doctor or ER for the symptoms you are having then you really don't need to now, either. Wait it out. You'll know when enough is enough.
6. Did I mention you should wash your hands?
St. Raphael the Archangel, pray for us!