We all have curly tails now..

Ah well.. it was bound to happen and yet for me at the least convenient time. I got the ‘swine flu’ or the H1N1 virus which is a type of swine influenza mixed with some avian and human ancestry. I knew this was coming, and at first I kinda worried that this would be another ‘Spanish flu’ that killed 20-100 million worldwide 1918-19. But there is little point in worrying and I did think that the years of preparation for avian flu would have made the WHO and the major governments as best placed as possible to interdict it. Some people sadly died, but despite the alarmist headlines it started to look as though it might be quite mild in reality, unless you had underlying health issues. I watched a few programmes on BBC Four, started to understand the subject, realised the ‘second wave’ would be the testing outbreak and decided to not fret.

Well my son Matt and his friends Ben and Alaa and Louis and others all went to Leedfest this year, and from the accounts coming in it sounds like the ‘second wave’ has gone right through the festivalgoers. They’ve all got it. I saw Matt on Monday and Tuesday but still felt fine when I boarded the train to London to catch the Eurostar to Brussels for some very important meetings. I started to feel ‘off’ on that first train and I wish I’d had the gumption to turn back, but these are very important meetings that dictate if I have an income for years to come so I pressed on. On the Eurostar I started to have very ‘viral’ symptoms.. headache, hot breath, some limb ache.

By that night I was laid pretty low, fever, headache, aching limbs. My colleague Frank was going to the meeting on Thursday so after having spent a bad night I couldn’t make the meeting, hoping to regroup for ‘my’ meeting Friday. I started to make plans, asking good colleagues from Banverket to chair if I was missing and using the lulls when I felt normal to ensure that all documentation was printed by our hosts at UNIFE. Another terrible delirious night. But I woke feeling a little better and decided to have a light breakfast (I had avoided food since Matt had consistently been unable to hold down food) and make the very short walk to the UNIFE offices. What a mistake.

I spent the meeting shaking, shivering, barely able to concentrate, and eventually went to the loo and upchucked everything that I had eaten. It was game over and rather than catching the train home which was my plan, I could do nothing but take a taxi to the hotel and book myself back in for what turned out to be the worst night of all. Eventually the fever broke at about 3am and today, Saturday, I am not well at all, but better than I was.

So.. how is the dreaded ‘swine flu’ of 2009 (and I bet 2010)? Well it’s not mild, it’s a full on bastard of an influenza that knocks you up pretty bad. It cripples your weak spots, which for me is usually headaches, for Matt it’s his upset stomach, and I’d want to keep a very close eye on it if you had an underlying respiratory illness, like any flu. It may not be the killer it was headlined as, and even now we don’t know that for sure, but you don’t want it and when they have that vaccine I’d take it if it was offered (subject to your belief system regarding vaccines). In the UK you can also get access to anti-virals which I couldn’t take since I was umpteen hundred miles away from them, but consider them too. Add it into the mix in the winter months with seasonal flu and it’s gonna cause a lot of disruption, and everything the medical people can do to limit it will be well worthwhile. UK health advice is here. US health advice here. EU overview of all Member States here.

As for me.. I’m stuck in a hotel room in Brussels too ill to leave the room, not sure if I will be up to travelling tomorrow, and wishing I was home. My colleagues coped, I should have stayed at home, and my final advice is: “If you feel flu coming on.. go back to bed.. take paracetomol.. and hope it’s not too bad.”

But we do all have cute curly tails now..

Tom

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