How it feels to be told you might have swine flu

Jan. 3, 2012
To me, disaster management was something in someone else’s backyard. It was a very distant thing I supported, but one that I never thought I’d

To me, disaster management was something in someone else’s backyard. It was a very distant thing I supported, but one that I never thought I’d actually need. Then came swine flu. I was feeding my baby banana yogurt with the evening news humming in the background when the news hit. The camera focused in on Mayor Bloomberg speaking at what looked to be an impromptu press conference and I tuned in. He announced — first in English, and then in Spanish — that three public schools in Queens were to be closed for one week due to the outbreak. A school closing may be a newsworthy and interesting item to anyone, but should you live in that borough — and I do — it’s quite scary. And while you might think since my son is not even a toddler and not yet school-aged I wouldn’t feel frightened, you weren’t with me at the pediatrician’s office after he spiked a 102-degree-fever. After that came my fever. And despite all the over-the-counter medications I took, it lasted for more than one week. When I finally went to the doctor, she tested me for swine flu. What scared me most wasn’t that I might have it, but that if I did, it meant that my son did, too. For me, the story ends happily as we didn’t have novel influenza A (H1N1), but for the nearly 1,000 CDC-estimated confirmed and probable cases in the state or the nine in the city who died from it, things didn’t. What it means to have healthcare professionals on the same page with real-time-information when epidemics hit feels quite different than what you might think when you or your child is the sick one.

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