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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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My Experience With Swine Flu (Novel H1N1)

 

After speaking with medical professionals we know, it is now becoming clear that I may have had swine flu (Novel H1N1) over the last several weeks.  My symptoms, duration, and severity have made this “highly likely.” 


So I thought it might be helpful for you all to know what the experience is like.  Not to scare you (seriously, it was not scary EVER), but just so you know and can take precautions if you or your family end up having it.


During the worst of my illness, I stayed home.  Had I understood what I was carrying, I would have stayed home more, but I didn’t know – unfortunately, there is no sign waved in your face that says “you have swine flu!”  


It began with heavy fatigue 4 or 5 weeks ago.  It was in the thick of the hot weather here (over 100F), and we were madly packing and getting ready to move.  While the fatigue was strange, I thought for the most part I was reacting to the heat and stress of moving.  The fatigue got steadily worse, and then subsided for a couple of days.  I also had some nausea toward the tail end of that fatigue.  


Soon after the fatigue and nausea subsided, I had a sore throat for a couple of days and then had symptoms much like a bad cold that would not stop.  That lasted two weeks, coming strong like a wave, and then lingering for some time in my lungs.  I did have a fever, but it never got high enough to worry.  Again there was some fatigue.   


I had a productive cough – with quite a bit of fluid in my lungs – something I haven’t had since I really worked to contain my asthma four years ago.  Had I not been managing my asthma with medications now, I believe I would have been much, much worse during this phase.  As it was, I felt at the time it was not quite severe enough to go to the doctor. 


As the coughing began to subside, the nausea returned on occasion and the symptoms moved to my intestines.  It remained this way for a little under a week.  I now am near the end of this phase, while the cough has all but gone away.  During this time, I’ve eaten a lot of yogurt and cottage cheese to put good bacteria back into my body, drunk lots of water, eaten only basic things like grains fruit and vegetables, plus I’ve slept an awful lot.  


I’m now nearing my normal self again.


All in all, it took a while to recover, but it was not in any way deadly for me.  It was not terribly different than any other flu.  Had I known, I would have stayed home so as not to infect others who may have chronic diseases that would put them more at risk.  I feel bad about that.  However, I did stay away from my grandfather and have not seen him for many weeks, I avoided public gatherings as much as possible, I was very careful to wash my hands after blowing my nose and coughing in public, and I took several other such precautions that I would have taken with any flu.


I am looking forward to having my energy back.  We’ve almost finished unpacking from the move , but I haven’t been able to take that to the finish line due to fatigue.  I have lost about five pounds – I needed to loose the weight, but I would MUCH rather have lost it by exercising !  So I hope to continue working toward 10,000 steps soon, and to continue to build our online community here.


If You Think You Might Have Swine Flu, What Should You Do?


Everyone’s symptoms will be somewhat different based on their own body’s reaction to illness.  And again, there is no red flag that says “this is swine flu!”


If you do get sick, don’t panic.  If you have a history of lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders, suppressed immune system – or if you are pregnant – make sure you see a doctor.  Otherwise, stay home and rest, drink water, stay up on your nutrition, and pay attention to your body’s needs.  Take special care of children and young adults if they get sick, and do not give them aspirin – it can lead to further complications.  (Note:  this is not official medical advice of course – please consult a doctor or nurse for any official advice, or if you have any doubts about your condition.


The CDC recommends that people with influenza-like illness remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100 F or 37.8C), or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.  For more information, visit  “Novel H1N1 (Swine Flu) And You.”


Also, from what I’ve learned from each of their sites, the CDC, NIH, WHO, and other health organizations are somewhat discouraging people without severe symptoms to come in to be tested for H1N1.  Because there are so many cases now, labs want to preserve that capacity for those who are more severely ill.  The only reason to know for sure is if you need treatment, and most people do recover fine without treatment.  Of course, when in doubt, give your doctor a shout!  Pick up the phone and call your doctor – it doesn’t hurt.


To learn more about seasonal influenza visit:


To learn more about H1N1 swine flu visit:


Returning To A Regular Schedule 


Thank you all again for your patience.  Assuming I continue on my current healthy trajectory, I am back to a normal posting schedule (5-6 days/week) as of today.  


I appreciate your readership.  Stay Healthy!  


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29 comments to My Experience With Swine Flu (Novel H1N1)

  • I’m glad to hear that your feeling better!

  • I am glad you pulled through well and are feeling on the up side.

    Like in the US very few of the thousands of Swine flu infected during the Aussie flu season ended up needing to be in hospital. Almost all of those had serious underlying conditions that made them more susceptible.

    As you said listen to your body. Go to the doctor if specific symptoms are getting out of hand and causing significant distress.

    Swine flu hasn’t caused any more deaths than would normally be incurred in your average flu season. It was just the unknown combination of pathogens and the initial demographics of infection that were concerning.

    Kind Regards
    Belinda

  • [...] a person who was affected by the H1N1 Swine Flu virus and has survived unscathed for the ordeal is available here for all to read. It is now after the illness has subsided that the writer is able to say with some degree of [...]

  • Nicole

    I suspect that I had a run-in with H1N1 myself a few months ago. The reason why I think it was H1N1 is not because I was tested, but because I contracted the flu AFTER seasonal influenza had run its course. I went to the doctor to confirm that I had the flu (I had to do this as I’m doing a practicum at a hospital so I couln’t risk spreading anything by coming to work with unexplained symptoms). However, they didn’t test me for H1N1 because, as you mention, the labs are swamped and are actually instructing doctors NOT to send in any tests unless the patients are hospitalized.

    As far as flu’s go, my possible H1N1 was…kinda wussy. It started out as a subtle but long-lasting sore throat coupled with a vague but persistent ache in my quadraceps. After a couple days I developed a mild fever, which lasted a few more days, a runny nose that wouldn’t stop, and a bit of a cough. Perhaps the worst symptom, though, was a clanger of a headache that persisted for about four days and seemed fairly impervious to my Advil. The whole thing DID last longer than flus typically last for me, by perhaps two or three days. However, it wasn’t even remotely scary.

  • Glad you are feeling better. Good summary of the H1N1 virus. We’ve been talking to our health nurse about this at work a lot.

  • If I could add that I have had excellent luck taking elderberry extract to shorten the course of bouts of flu I’ve had in the past. I usually get the flu at least once a year, and on average I am out of commission for 2 days and not feeling like myself for another three. The last two times I started taking elderberry the worst of it lasted around a day to a day and a half, and I was only groggy for a day or so after.

    *I’m no doctor and my trials are in no way scientific.

  • This is going to sound wacky – but I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on this, and I really, really believe making sure your Vitamin D 25 Hydroxy (requires a lab draw to test) is at a healthy level will go a long way to preventing illness this coming flu season. It’s important to supplement with Vitamin D3, and to be monitored when doing so. MOST Americans are deficient in Vitamin D and it’s astounding the results I see with my patients who supplement appropriately.

    I’m so glad you’re on the mend, Melinda! Stay hydrated!

  • Glad you are doing better. It’s best to just get tested if you think you have it, so you can take necessary precautions to prevent the spread to other people. But regardless if you have swine flu or the cold, more people should take an active attempt to wash their hands more and prevent the spread of germs- or keeping hand sanitizer with you all the time.

  • Hi,

    Can I suggest that instead of *going* to see a doctor if you need to, organise for a call out to your home.

    Reason being that doctors surgeries are about the worst place in the world (I think) for catching more disease.

    There’s all those books and magazines that everyone coughs up over and shares, counter tops at the payment center that people cough on and lean on, the payment machines that (I’d bet!) are rarely, if ever, swiped with antibacterials. And the sofas and chairs I’d also bet are rarely given a swab down with anything resembling proper cleaners.

    I’d be interested to see a microbial content check for a typical waiting room at a surgery, but I can guess it wouldn’t be good.

    Finally, if you DON’T have swine flu, a doctors surgery is probably the best place to catch it!

    By comparison, if you have a doctor come and see you, it’s just one person, and most doctors have good cleanliness etiquette (covering their mouths with their elbow when they cough, using hand sanitizers etc.).

    If any of my children is sick and needs to see a doctor, these days I get a call out. It’s free in NZ anyway – well, we’ve never been billed. And while you have to wait, at least you’re waiting in your own home. The longest we’ve had to wait is a couple of hours.

    I think in this respect, the old way of having doctors do their rounds is so much more sensible. Whoever thought of getting a whole stack of people with different illnesses and putting them in a waiting room together was definitely pretty dumb!

    Just my (long) 2c. And no, I’m not a doctor of medicine. But this makes sense to me.

    Thanks for the post on swine flu! I hope you’re feeling better Melinda!

  • Thanks for sharing the symptoms with us (but not the virus). Glad you are on the home stretch to feeling better. Once you’re well, you can have a little house-warming for your new place!

  • As for me I am waiting for the vaccination. Hope I don’t get sick before getting a shot!

  • Great post! My family all had it last month but didn’t realize it for awhile. We thought it was strep throat (well it was that too) and the doc gave antibiotics before we realized no one was getting better. Not as bad as I’d thought it would be I guess, but not fun! Hope you are well soon, don’t overdo it at first!

  • Wow, Daharja! That sounds like heaven. In the US, you can’t get a doctor to come to your house unless you’re married to her, and then insurance probably wouldn’t cover it…

  • We suspect my husband had it about two months ago. He was also sick for a couple of weeks and the worst part was coughing so much that he couldn’t sleep laying down. It wasn’t severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. We had good success using an antiviral tincture that contained astragalus as well as a lung supporting herbal tea combination that we purchase from a local herb seller.

  • Thank you for all your good wishes! Almost back to normal, though my energy is still lagging. : ( I cannot wait to get back up to speed with walking. The 1 mile (each way) walks to work have been all I can manage, and even then, barely so.

    Dragonwyck Sanctuary, thank you!

    Belinda, thanks for the additional info – great points.

    Nicole, Michelle, and Lisa – good to hear more experiences. It really does seem like a typical flu only slightly more severe in symptoms and duration. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Kory, you do keep swearing by this – I will have to check it out the next time I get sick!

    Dina, because we are in the grey northwest, I take D regularly. I agree, for those of us up here it makes a big difference in overall health. My doctor prescribed it for me.

    Courtney, I agree – hand washing is extremely important.

    Daharja, I agree with Emily – wow I would love to have that here! I’m quite jealous now.

    Chile, Ah – great idea! (How does one have a virtual housewarming party…?)

    Rob, I hear the vaccinations are going to be ready in the fall.

  • Yikes! I’m glad it wasn’t too serious for you. I’m particularly worried about catching H1N1 this fall as I’m not sure I have my asthma controlled extremely well. I’ve been washing my hands more often and trying not to touch my face and all that jazz, but there are quite a few tips on the CDC web site that I think I’m going to have to do. (such as bringing a face mask with me in case I DO get sick and have to go to the doctor… having a thermometer… maybe even making my own hand sanitizer. That would be useful.)

  • Mike

    Both my partner and myself almost certainly had H1N1 earlier in Late summer at the height of the summer peak here in the UK. Then cases were in 100,000 a week or so

    My partners symptoms pretty much mirowed yours Melinda. The most telling characteristic was that it knocked you on your behind for a good week or so. However, if one stayed at home an got plenty of rest it wasn’t so bad, until that is, tryng to walk a few blocks to the store when it wiped you out.

    While my parter had it properly it seemed with me there were a couple of times when it had a go a me but I managed to fight it of. I would feel awful convinced I was coming down with it and would go to bed but after a good nights sleep would then wake up fine the next morning. One time I had a day where I felt weird in a way I’ve never had before including the stomach and intestinal parts. Obviously I seemed to have some anti-bodies for it in my system. The Irony to all this is that earlier this summer when I was working in Southern California at the height of the initial outbreak we toke some side trips south accross the border into northern Mexico. It was strange to see people in grocery store there wandering around with face masks yet on the US side of the border no one bothered. Obviously H1N1 is easily detered by homeland security! However, we had to encountered it here in the UK as the incubation period would have been way to long.

    The strange thing to all this is that in late January just before I flew to LA I had the most awful cold/flu bug, which is unusual for me. Mt symptoms including persistant nasty fevers and sweats and a general wiped out feeling were almost identical to my partners H1N1 later this summer. But I remain convinced whatever I had in January, which was way before H1N1 emerged must have given me some immunity. I agree its nothing to get too worried about if you are a normal healthy person

  • Cindy

    I’m 52 years old. I’m not sure what I have. I’ve had entirely mild symptoms for almost 2 weeks now. No fever but it started with slight nausea and a a sore throat. What I call a “sick” headache came upon me for about 2 days along with continuous sore throat, achyness and exhaustion… no cough which has been good because I have a mild lung condition. But my lungs kind of ache. I’ll start feeling better and than go back to work. It seems that any stress on my body brings me down again but simply with exhaustion and sore throat again. My supervisor probably thinks I’m playing games. ???

  • Thank you for posting your story. My son (2 1/2) has had a fever for 2 days, and has a deep raspy breathing, and cough. Also vomitted up the little food he ate, and very fatigued. I think he may have the H1N1 and it is so stressful. I am taking him to a clinic today to get tested and go from there. It is comforting to hear your story.

  • Just wanted to let everyone know I deleted a comment here. I don’t mind being contradicted – debate is important. However, I didn’t believe the comment was constructively critical. You are welcome to leave a comment that offers new, well-researched criticism – but I won’t tolerate comments that simply seem to be looking for an argument for arguments’ sake.

  • i remember being scared of getting infected by H1N1 during the height of the pandemic. at least two of my classmates got infected by H1N1.

  • i remember being scared of getting infected by H1N1 during the height of the pandemic. at least two of my classmates got infected by H1N1.

  • 2 of my cousins in mexico got infected with the swine flu virus. thank God, they recovered well. it is a great news that the pandemic on swine flu is gone now.

  • I’m going to save this as inspiration and refer visitors from my blog. I’ve just put up some new ideas too, so I’ll put a link to this article (if OK) on my site?

  • Dorsey Shuga

    Thanks, you guys explained everthing I needed to know and very quicly 10 out of 10!

  • Natasha Gantvoort

    At least a hundred persons in our city have been infected with the H1N1 virus. I was very scared to get infected with this disease during a pandemic;~~

  • Laura Black

    so, it’s 2011…anyone with H1N1, now? it seems to have gone around my office. My receptionist cracked a rib coughing in her third (or fourth?) week. my medical office assistant was sick for 3 weeks. I was sure that I’d escape, unscathed, but, NO! I’m on my second week, and it feels like my lungs are full of…something. My husband was in bed with a fever, no appetite, and diarrhea for 3-4 days, and the cough lingered for almost two weeks. He ruptured a disc, coughing, which kept him in bed for another few days. I exposed a friend, but, started him on a course of Tamiflu within 24hours of the onset of his symptoms. within 3 or 4 days, he was just about good as new, except for the lingering cough, which comes and goes, but, at least it’s a dry cough, more like a tickle. I’m on my second week of antibiotics for a sinus infection, and continue to have paroxysms of deep, wet, coughing. I’m really ready to be done with this. I haven’t been ‘scared,’ per se, but, I can see how a thing like this could kill. When my 7year old awoke earlier this week complaining that his stomach hurt, his throat hurt and his head hurt when he coughed, I started him on Tamiflu, immediately. The following day, he is near 100% other than some minor nasal congestion. I wasn’t going to chance it with my 5 year old. He has asthma, so I started him on a prophylactic course of Tamiflu, as well. Now, everyone ELSE seems to be recovered, except me and my receptionist. now, if I could just get some sleep for this coughing…

  • Conust

    Our library from Lviv State Polytechnic University sometimes uses the materials from your blog. It helps to study English, get experience while writing the comments to your visitors. We suggest you to look through the opportunity to start you blog on Russian or Ukrainian languages ! Thanks!

  • This is a great article. Swine flu has had so much coverage in the media, that wasn’t always helpful. It’s much better to hear this from a personal account. It also takes away the fear people have when confronted with these hyped up things

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