Health Care, Rheumatoid Arthritis

H1N1 and you…well, me

One of the side concerns of living with Rheumatoid Arthritis is the immune-suppressing nature of the medications used to treat it. Last Christmas I caught a cold that was as hard to shake as the bronchitis I remember from 1991. Thankfully, it never progressed beyond the rotten cold and cough phase. But it seems to be the case that every cold virus that approaches me will become a cough as well, and a cough exhausts and makes recovering that much harder.

A couple of years ago, I caught the flu. I ran a fever, and I had body aches and chills and as Dr. Sherry pointed out, you could tell it was flu because I knew when the train hit me.

What I have now is a cold. Definitely. I woke up Saturday morning with a slightly sore throat, and I felt a little worse all day, and by Sunday morning I had a cough and a voice like Suzanne Pleshette's, and by Monday morning a voice like Teller's and a cough and a very runny nose. When I called the office,The Best Administrator in the World could not understand most of what I was saying. Even today, on my third day of rest, it would be accurate to describe my voice as "faint."

This is the same cold virus that LP had last week. She felt miserable for one day.

So, as I spent another morning napping, and on either end of that nap watching MSNBC, I could not help thinking about H1N1. There's a lot of excitement out there about swine flu. You've probably noticed. People are freaking out about the virus itself and even moreso about the vaccine. I won't repeat the conspiracy theories because I don't want to give them airtime.

Our family doctor does not consider the H1N1 virus to be necessary for our family members in good health. She leaves the call on that for me up to the rheumatologist. Last year at his office I had my first flu shot ever, with no reaction and, I might add, no flu last winter.

If a cold is this hard to shake, I hate to think of having the flu now, any kind of flu. Given that I'm at greater risk for pneumonia than the average bird, I hate to hear that what's killing some people with H1N1 is the pneumonia they've developed alongside.

What are you doing about the vaccine? Should I be laying in Gatorade?

I must be feeling better if I'm trying to start a conversation.

21 thoughts on “H1N1 and you…well, me”

  1. My beloved has an ostomy (actually she has RA as well, but doesn’t take meds for it anymore), which is an immune-compromising condition…so I’ve been getting flu shots since I’ve known her, just so she won’t catch a flu from me if I can help it. She also gets a shot. I got my standard flu shot last weekend; I always experience a couple days of aches, headaches and a general “catching a cold” feeling when I get immunized, but it’s nothing compared to actual flu of any kind. I plan on getting the H1N1 shot when it becomes available.

  2. I’m pretty disease resistant – if anything, my immune system is a bit too assertive – but I do make sure to get a flu shot every year, because I teach and that exposes me to all sorts of viruses (especially after holidays, when everyone visits the relatives and swaps strains, then brings them home). I don’t usually get the flu, but when I do, it’s because it’s a strong, unfamiliar strain, and then I’m miserable for a week. (Two years ago one swept campus and everyone – students, faculty – was like the walking dead for several weeks – it took that long to recover after the initial fever+aches. And that was _with_ the flu shot!)

  3. I began getting the flu vaccine after I was diagnosed with asthma 5 years ago. When I asked my family practitioner about H1N1 virus this year, especially in light of an asthma diagnosis, he indicated that I would not necessarily merit a place in the H1N1 vaccine queue because of that. On the other hand, he said, you should get the vaccine because you are a care-giver to others.
    So that is what I am doing.
    Wishing you renewed health and strength and voice, dear Songbird+

  4. Glad you are better!
    I’d get the vaccine if I were you. And I’d get it if it were offeret to me. My 2 cents.

  5. I pray for your quick recovery, but I have to admit that I have selfish reasons for doing so — I have become accustomed to hearing the songbird sing!
    I have an elderly church, I thought I had better get a flu shot more for their sakes than my own. Peace!

  6. I have a cold too. I haven’t gotten a vaccine yet, but think, given all the elderly in my congregation, that it might be a good idea.

  7. I won’t take the H1N1 shot – regular flu shot, yes. I think that in their panic, the makers have gone too fast, so I will wait a year and see what happens to those who take it. Surely lay in gatorade – it would also be worth while to go to the health food store and lay in ginger ale. The stuff in the grocery has had the ginger removed. Also, harmless but helpful, is mamma’s cough cure – an even mixture of honey and lemon juice. Get some zinc too…..
    My children have been known to introduce me as ‘my mamma, the witch doctor’, but these things worked on them. God bless you and heal your immune system.

  8. I’m uncertain. I got the regular flu shot as I always do since I work with kids. If it were just for me I’d probably skip the H1N1 shot but my 7 month son was a preemie and I’m not sure what to do about that…
    I guess I’m going to talk to the doctor and see where I end up for him and for me.

  9. Tucking you in with cozy virtual blankets and more tea…
    My niece recently sent me a very interesting piece on the use of Vitamin D as a protectant against H1N1. Here’s the link! (SB, this is the article I mentioned to you at Annual Meeting on Saturday.)

  10. I think that depends on how risky the vaccine seems, to you, and how much it seems likely to prevent infection. I’ve not been reading about it
    Laying in Gatorade and making sure you have a freezer full of easily-reheatable soup is not going to be a bad plan in any case, though.

  11. My question is not whether I will get it (I will, I have seen over 200 cases so far and I can not afford to miss work), BUT whether I will give it.
    How am I supposed to spread my staff around enough to 1. Take care of all the fall and winter diseases that have started 2. Give seasonal flu vaccine 3. Give H1N1 vaccine.
    There is only so much we can accomplish and I think that sick folks are going to have to take priority.

  12. Two cents worth from the Incredibles:
    We’re all doing the regular flu shot, but the non-teen will be the only one to get H1N1 b/c of his asthma. There was an epidemiologist from the nearby med school recommending that if there are no underlying conditions, this first year is a mild strain & it would be better to let your body build a natural immunity… he predicted that the strain will get stronger over time. Of course that assumes you have the time to take off of life if you get it, and that you are healthy enough to fight it. Three of us will take our chances… one will get the shot. Clear as mud, right?

  13. Here’s my take on H1N1.
    The news bereft news people are screaming “pandemic.” Technically it is. But from what I’ve discerned speaking with several doctors and reading some medical stuff: the majority of people who catch it have a far milder experience than the numbers of people who catch the regular flu. And the total number of people who catch is exponentially smaller that the total number of people who get and die from the regular flu. As in: a lot of hooey about nothin’ yet.
    And H1N1 has not been around long enough to develop any kind of meaningful vaccine. What is out there now is considered by many medicos to be experimental.
    This, however, does not help you, Songbird, because of your immunity issues. For you, I have no answer. Perhaps being a guinea pig for the new vaccine would be a good thing. Perhaps not. I’d say that next year you’ll get a better class of shot.

  14. my $.02 is for you to consult with your rheumatologist and see what he or she reccommends. I’m leaning towards you getting it given your post above. You will come in contact with a lot of people this winter.

  15. Poor Songbird. Sending some virtual chicken soup.
    Got my seasonal flu shot yesterday, and will probably get the H1N1 when it comes out. I had the flu one time and was hoping I’d just pass on I felt so bad. With your immune compromise, my medical hat wearing person says, get the vaccine. Love to you.

  16. As you are immune-suppressed, get the vaccine!
    I think I may have had swine flu – it was a pig! No, seriously, it was nasty while it lasted, but didn’t last long. I don’t qualify for flu jabs yet (they are usually confined to the over-65s or those with good reason to have them, such as yourself – or, of course, you can pay for them).

  17. As someone with MS, I have been getting the seasonal flu shot for years and not gotten the flu. I believe that has help me stave off major flare ups of the MS. There is recent research that links autoimmune diseases like ours to the esptein barr virus that I believe has common protein strains with such illnesses as mono, shingles, and the flu…When your autoimmune system is triggered to attack a virus that has similar characteristics with what is now part of your makeup (rheumatoid arthritis), your immune system that gears up to fight off the flu begins to attack your own system. After attending an H1N1 summit, I am convinced that all children and pregnant women especially should get the vaccine. I am also happy to know that the Governor of our state has promised to provide vaccinations or every resident. The summit I attend was to establish protocols for setting up vaccination clinics so it would not over tax the physicians.
    I am a little nervous with the fact that the vaccine was just developed, but I am more nervous about losing my mobility or continence ……..

  18. I would just go by whatever your rheumatologist suggests. My friend with Sjogren’s syndrome is considering skipping the H1N1 shot when it’s offered to us at work, because it contains live virus, but she hasn’t asked her rheumatologist’s opinion yet. I just remember how sick and how miserable the Scientist was when he had the flu over Christmas a couple of years ago, and I’ll tke the shot to avoid that (for either of us).

  19. I won’t be getting either flu vaccine since I work from home so my exposure is fairly limited. Let people more at risk get the vaccines. Also, I really hate needles.
    Weaverwoman mentioned supermarket ginger ale doesn’t contain much/any ginger (and I believe her, despite Canada Dry’s new ad campaign).
    Here’s my daily ginger treat: 2 quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger in a mug of green tea. I put the ginger in the mug of water, microwave it, then add the tea bag. You can re-used the ginger several times in one day. When I’m congested, I add more ginger or make straight ginger tea by boiling the heck out of some ginger, then adding honey to the tea. I try to always have a hand of ginger on, well… hand.
    I’m having a cup of ginger-green tea right now. Third cup of the day (the ginger gets more intense with each use).

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