On Friday I took a trip to the doctor in hopes for some help with what was a pretty nasty virus making its way through our home.  I left three of the kids home, and took my youngest along with me.  It was unlike any other doctors visit to start.  The nurse took my temperature, which revealed a fever.

When the Doctor came in, upon hearing of my symptoms, explained that we should probably test for influenza A, which the Swine Flu (now called the H1N1 Flu)  is a strain of, especially in view of the fact that one of my husband’s co-workers was confirmed to have the swine flu.   I was in no way prepared for what happened next.

As soon as my test came back with a bright positive, the doctor’s office went into emergency mode.  They ushered everyone out, except the staff, Austin and I.  Appointments were canceled for the rest of the day.  Face masks were handed out to everyone.  Signs were hung with “Do not enter, swine flu inside’.  My husband was called immediately and told he must bring the rest of the family in to be tested.  In the meantime, Austin who at that point was asymptomatic tested positive also.

My husband and the rest of the children also tested positive.

The CDC was contacted.   The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was contacted.  We were all tested again, with tests to be sent to the CDC.  There was initial talk of admitting me into the hospital with severe dehydration.  It was feeling like a bad dream.

Thankfully it was decided to send me home for the time being.  As long as I promised that I would go to the hospital if I did not improve.

And the doctor sat down and had a talk with us.  She explained that we should contact those who we have had contact with.  The home school co-op, our church, friends, etc.  We should stay in our home for five days.  She would be writing  prescriptions for anti-viral drugs for the whole family, and some other medications that would deal with our symptoms, and she would be calling them into a pharmacy with a drive through window.

After 2 1/2 hours, we were finally able to leave, face masks and all.

The first pharmacy did not have enough antiviral medication for our whole family, so my husband had to drive 1/2 hour away to another pharmacy to get the rest of it.  Our total cost even after our insurance paid their portion was $320.  Extra money, we really didn’t have.  (Where is Obama when we need him.)

Later that evening we were called to go back to the hospital to be tested again for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  We filled out paperwork for all six of us and then were tested.

After doing a lot of research, I am pretty convinced that it is the swine flu.  The symptoms of the swine flu play out differently than those of  the influenza A seasonal version.  Our symptoms have been consistent with that of other confirmed swine flu cases.  Even our Doctor is convinced.

On Monday afternoon we received a call from our county health department.  They had only received my husband, Brent’s test, and at that point had no idea that the rest of our family was sick.  After asking several questions of me, and finding out that at the time of the test, Brent was asymptomatic, she informed me that his test would probably come back negative since most do when there is no symptoms present at the time of the test for the swine flu.  Had they waited to test him when symptoms were present, he would have had a greater chance of testing positive.   Or had they tested my test, since I was very sick with the virus at the time, we probably would have seen a positive result.  We were informed at that time that since the rest of our tests were probably discarded, we probably would never know for sure if what we have is the swine flu.  Testing us again at this time would be fruitless since we have already been on the antiviral drugs for almost 4 days.  The representative did agree that our symptoms were consistent with the swine flu.

So basically, the media and the CDC have been making a very big deal out of this virus.  But at the core, they are not really doing the right things to prevent the spreading of it.  They are not testing everyone who has specific swine flu symptoms and is also influenza A positive.  They are not detailing to the public the specific symptoms associated with confirmed swine flu cases.  Not only that, but they are also completely clueless as to how long a person is contagious.  We heard everything from 5 days, 7 +1 days and 20 hours after fever breaks.  Nobody really knew.  It was frustrating.

Basically, this is evidence of what happens when the government is in control of things like this.

The whole experience has been a nightmare.  But we are better now, I guess at this point, that is all that matters.

21 comments
  1. Wow Coleen, I'm sorry you guys have been sick. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Praying for health for you and your family. I hope you feel better soon!

  2. Hope your family gets better Colleen – I have a small flu right now also (nothing major) but I know how much this sucks…hoping the best for you and your family

  3. Coleen,

    “Basically, this is evidence of what happens when the government is in control of things like this.”

    I recently listed to a Bible study from one of our prominent Bible scholars who also happens to have a background in high technology and government work. His assertion is that governments–particularly the US Government–like social crises because it allows them to increase their budgets, mostly out of fear. In this case, we have a perceived heath crisis on our hands.

    Whether that is true or not, your statement is. The government needs to get its hands out of healthcare (and a lot of other things) and get back to what the Constitution says it's suppose to do.

  4. One more thing, if you were implying that we only had seasonal influenza A, then we had the most odd seasonal influenza. Not to mention, that earlier in the year we did have it, and to be honest, seasonal influenza A was worse in some regards. Also, the symptoms that we had were completely inconsistent for the seasonal flu, and were consistent with swine flu. Even the Colorado department of health was convinced of that much. In fact one thing that has upset me so much is that the media and the CDC has done a horrible job of making the symptoms of the swine flu known. Not to mention that we were directly exposed to a confirmed swine flu case, which is one reason our doctor took it so serious.

  5. Terrible ordeal with a happy ending, I trust. Influenza is a killer, whether of the “swine” variety or not, and we sometimes forget that. I'm glad you and yours are on the mend.

    This, however, strikes me as a bit too facile: “Basically, this is evidence of what happens when the government is in control of things like this.”

    All bureaucracies are inefficient and tend toward SNAFUs like the one you describe. Anyone who has actually served in the U.S. military, for example, can give you story after story to prove the point – – even though our armed forces are, in my humble opinion, the greatest and most effective in history.

    Corporations are not immune from such problems, either. Those of us who have wrangled with an HMO or other insurer over a relative's illness can provide anecdotes that would make your experience with the CDC pale in comparison. For every well-run company like Fed Ex (there's a CEO who learned from his military experience in the USMC!), you've got another that is cutting corners and providing a poor customer experience.

    So perhaps your ultimate sentence was a throw-away line designed to appeal to those who (rightly) worry about the size and scope of the government. But what is the follow-through? Who do you think should handle issues of epidemiology? Who should prepare for pandemics? Should we all do so on our own?

    That last question is not entirely rhetorical – – my answer is a resounding, “YES–both private citizens and the government should plan for the worst!” Lack of faith in the government to take care of my family in a crisis is one reason why we own firearms and stock a reasonable quantity of emergency supplies.

    After what you and yours have been through, you're more than entitled to complain – – but I'd like to hear more of your thoughts about what this means to you, and what you suggest we take away from it.

    Should we have

  6. From the Greg I know perhaps.

    OK, maybe I should have left the line out, but honestly, I could argue against national health care well, I am just not going to do it here.

    One of my points: Fine if the government wants to alarm the people of a potential disaster, but be ready for it. To not test all of the likely cases, and then to not make the public aware of the symptoms of this possible disaster is wrong. They failed. They didn't even know their facts. Each person I talked to (employed by the government) had different answers. The only thing that they agreed on was that our symptoms were consistent with that of the swine flu. But if they knew the swine flu symptoms, why were they not sharing them with the media??

    What this means to me?? I don't deal with that question, it is one I despise.

    What we can take away from it? Government, get your act together.

    Coleen

  7. Coleen, this strain is a new variant that emerged very recently so of course health officials and virus researchers know little about it: How it manifests, how long people remain contagious and efficiency of transmission. Science doesn't proceed like it does on shows like “CSI”. It's never that precise or fast. Currently, the CDC recommends treating Influenza A positive cases with
    severe disease. In areas where the H1N1 outbreaks are already known to exist, testing for H1N1 may not be necessary. Treatment and management would depend on the severity of symptoms and where the patient falls in a scale of risk, regardless of whether the flu is H1N1 or not.

    The US response to the outbreak will certainly be evaluated at the local and national levels but so far, I think it's done reasonably well given the uncertainties. There is already some discussion that what could really cause a severe problem in a more lethal pandemic is the number of uninsured and underinsured people in the country who would be less likely to see a doctor.

  8. Agreed. Let's not rush to judgment based on our preconceptions about how the government can do no right.

    They'll give us plenty of evidence of this in good time. 😉

  9. You didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.
    We were directly exposed to H1N1.
    We were treated like we had the plague.
    I could say more, but I still don't feel well, and I am not in the mood to do so.

    There were things that happened to us, and information that we received from the government that is not reported here.

    In view of that, I really didn't expect understanding. FYI, I am not stupid. I understand all of the points that you made, I knew them before.

  10. “FYI, I am not stupid. I understand all of the points that you made, I knew them before.”

    What an incredibly nasty and discharitable reply. I guess we should just chalk it up to ill health, but our new contributor need to grow some thicker skin if she plans to blog much. Especially if she plan to submit whiney, intellectually lazy posts like this one.

    “There were things that happened to us, and information that we received from the government that is not reported here. In view of that, I really didn't expect understanding.”

    Well, shoot. Whose fault is that? If you have information that is relevant to your story, share it. If you have a point, make it.

    Sorry your family got sick. Sorry the bureaucracy didn't work well. Not exactly a unique or surprising situation. You didn't expect understanding? Well, what did you expect? Sympathy and an pat on the head. Sorry, but I deal with people every day whose problems are far worse than yours.

    I didn't realize this site had become a forum for people to piss and moan without a point.

  11. I apologize for my comment. I am a little testy right now (Something about a migraine that hasn't gone away all week.)
    I probably read into your comments. And considering this last week has been a nightmare, I am probably overly defensive.

    Also, I know people have problems far worse than mine. This has just been a bad year for me! I see that when I have to take my own son to Children's hospital for his CP, and have to pass the children cardiac clinic, and the oncologists office. This was icing on the cake after my own sickness, diagnosis, biopsies, medications and so on. And yet, I know what I am going through is nothing, nothing compared to what others go through.

    But I was wrong in talking like that, and I hope you will accept my apology.

  12. Aw, come on, ‘Boo’ – is it really so hard to give someone who has been sick, and looking after others who are sick, a bit of a ‘pass’ in moments like this? Sounds like you also may have had a hard week. Colleen, it would be helpful if you could tell us exactly how these flu symptoms were different from the regular flu. When you have time. . .! Thanks.

  13. I want to apologize again for my comments to you yesterday. I was in a bad mood yesterday, and I took it out here. I was wrong, and I am sorry.

  14. That was nasty and uncharitable? You should see some of the comments made to me.

    She was sharing her experience period. There wasn't anything whiney or intellectually lazy about it.

  15. Everyone here should know that we're basically among friends, right? So let's not get caught up in the little slights and minor incidents of crankiness that we *all* have!

    I enjoyed the article and (most of) the discussion. Personally, that's all I ask of a blog contributor!

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