The headlines read: Swine Flu has hit America. Now it has hit me, too!
Honestly, when I first heard about this new flu strain I thought it was no big deal. It would never affect me. Boy, was I wrong!
Apparently, swine flu (H1N1) attacks the lungs first. That is why people with asthma and other respiratory diseases need to take extra precautions. And yes, I am one of those people. Problem was, when I started coughing all the time, I thought it was just my asthma acting up.
After four days of breathing treatments and no improvement, my peak flow levels, which measure my lung capacity, began to drop drastically. To make a long story short, I was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital with complications from H1N1. All of a sudden, swine flu news became a BIG deal to me.
At the hospital, I learned that hand sanitizer is my best friend. The people who came into my room had to wear masks, gloves, and gowns. Then, when they left and took those off, they had to use hand sanitizer and soap. Swine flu can be spread by touching something that has been touched by someone sick with the virus. That’s why when you are sick, it is very important to wash your hands often, even if you cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve.
Every time you blow your nose, you need to use sanitizer or wash your hands.
I know hand sanitizer and washing really works. No one in my family was sick, nor were any of my friends. Could I have gotten it just from touching a door handle or not washing my hands enough? I will never know. But, I have learned a lot about preventing the spread of the virus.
Here are some handy tips that I learned while in the hospital:
1. Always wash your hands before you eat, after using the restroom, or after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.
2. Most people use hand towels in the bathroom. Replace those with paper towels so the germs can’t accumulate on the towels.
3. Use disinfectant wipes to wipe down anything that many people touch or use in your house, for example, door knobs, telephones, sink handles, and light switches.
4. If you are coughing or sneezing, avoid being around other people and stay home from school when you are sick. That way, you can keep the virus from spreading.
5. If you have asthma, monitor your peak flow every day. This will help make you more aware of your breathing levels.
6. Don’t wait until you can’t breathe before you contact a doctor.
7. Did I mention WASH YOUR HANDS?
These tips will help prevent H1N1 and other viruses and help you stay healthy.You can find out a lot more at the CDC's Web site.
Trust me. Swine flu is a big deal. Being in the hospital is no fun. Since I have asthma, I had to be on breathing treatments every two hours around the clock. That means I had to wake up every two hours just to breathe right. The nurses and doctors were great, but I felt like a pin cushion or lab rat.
Even after I came home, I was so tired that I couldn’t even walk outside for five minutes. The good thing was that I had word searches and books (thanks, Scholastic friends!) to keep me occupied during the day.
But laying around and watching television through a breathing machine mask gets old. You would never believe how much you can miss going to school. Believe me, it is possible.
Maybe, by telling my story, I could help someone avoid the swine flu blues.
By the way, you can share your swine flu experience by clicking on the blue comment below and sending us a brief note.