Posted by: medicblog999 | October 7, 2009

A first hand perspective of Swine Flu!


Well, I am on to day 4 now and am feeling much better. I still feel sniffly and bunged up, my chest hurt likes hell when I cough, but I just feel like I have a cold now, nothing more. My temp is down to the low 37`s and I am hoping to get back to work for the weekend.

Its been interesting going through it though. I have joked on about how I have a new empathy for my patients that I have seen already and that I will care for in the future, now that I have had it too, but it really will make a difference.

It wont change the fact that it will be very unlikely that I will be taking them out of their house and off to hospital (unless something is seriously wrong), but it will increase my understanding of why I will be standing in front of them, with my mask on and apron tied, in the first place.

Once I realised I was in swine flu territory (Day 2 – Pyrexial at 38.4, hot and colt sweats, headache, runny nose, aching arms, sore chest, sneezing all over the shop and generally feeling pretty crap), I decided to phone the national pandemic flu helpline. I wasnt sure if I was going to take the antivirals if offered, but I at least wanted the option.

I eventually got through to a young man who introduced himself and stated that he was going to ask me some questions first to see if I needed immediate medical help.

Operator: “If you answer yes to any of these questions, I will be asking you to put the phone down and dial 999 immediately, okay?”

M999: “Yeah, thats fine, but I am a paramedic and no matter what you tell me, there is no way I am going to dial 999!!”

Operator: “Oh, Ok then…..”

He then proceeded to ask me the usual immediate life threatening triage questions, all of which will be familiar to anyone in the job:

  • Are you unconscious?

Ehhh?????? Erm, no Im on the phone to you!

  • Are you having difficulty breathing to the extent that you cannot complete a sentence?

To be honest, I had just run upstairs to get the charger for the phone that I was on, and was actually quite breathless, but I knew what he meant and of course said no. However, many members of the general public may well say yes to this question which would then result in a quick hangup and dial 999 instruction.

Some of the other questions were easy enough to rule out :

  • Non Blanching rash?
  • Inability to touch chin to the chest?
  • Severe chest pain? – So subjective and easy to say yes to!
  • So drowsy that it is difficult to wake up (??? again, I am on the phone to you!)

And so it continued until we got past those questions and on to the swine flu assessment which I passed with flying colours (Horrayy!!!)

I was given my ‘secret code’ to get my tamiflu and was instructed as to where my nearest collection point was, which was now shut until the following morning – champion!

But that gave me time to think about whether I should take it or not.

When I woke up the next morning (Day 3), I decided to let my own defences continue on with what appeared to be a sterling job of doing battle with the dreaded pig virus that was attacking my immune system. Another day in bed thanks to Grandma and Grandad having Alexander again and my decision seemed to be the right one (for me!).

Its now day 4 and as I said, im feeling alot better (enough to get back on the keyboard to you lot anyway!)

Hopefully, as long as the strain doesnt mutate too much before the winter swine flu sets in, I should have some immunity to it now. Who knows, but lets hope so!



  1. I’m a bit confused on how to tell the Swine Flu from the Non Swine Flu, especially over the phone. Over the past few days I’ve had a headache, stuffy nose, slight fever, and non productive cough. I’ve generally felt like crap.

    So, do I have a cold, the regular ole flu, or the dreaded Swine Flu?

  2. Uh oh, is there another epidemic of sick EMS bloggers coming again?

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better M999.

    Sad to hear that you’re not, Tot

  3. Sick? Do you mean physically? Or otherwise? 🙂 I’m feeling better than I was, but not terrific. Not bad enough to stay home from work, certainly not bad enough to go to a doctor.

    Thanks for the good wishes, though.

    I’m sure I’ll be fine.

  4. Maybe I should put this comment on your blog, but since you’re here Tot, why not? JUst caught up on your blog after being away for a few days working on my new site. Good stuff. Really good stuff. Makes me wish I was a political blogger.

    Or not… but wish I talked about politics more often but could turn it off occasionally. Yea, that’s it.

    And I’ll bet you’ll see a buncha docs on your next shift.

  5. Glad your starting to feel better. Out of interest why didn’t you take the tamiflu? I have a unnatural interest in piggy flu at the mo – I’m five months pregnant – should I have the jab or not etc etc etc……… take care.

  6. Hey!

    Wahey for another piggy ‘flu sufferer! I too chose not to take the anti virals, and I’m feeling so much better for it. A week on I am almost symtom free (damn cough), unlike my poor friend who did decide to take her tamiflu, she’s spent most of the last week in the toilet!

    Great blog by the way (1st time i’ve commented) and I hope you feel 100% sharpish

    Em x

  7. I hope you and TOTWTYTR are feeling better.

    I also do not see the big deal with Relenza and Tamiflu. The benefit is minimal and it seems that almost all of the flu that they are testing is resistant to these drugs. Kind of like taking Tylenol for a broken bone. It may help, but will the difference even be noticeable? It seems that the discomfort of going to the pharmacy to get the drug is worse than any expected benefit.

    I love the questions.

    This is the future of EMS in the US with the National Registry exam.

    Are you unconscious? I can’t tell. What do you think?

    Inability to touch chin to the chest? As if that alone is diagnostic for meningitis.

    So drowsy that it is difficult to wake up? After these pointless questions? You already told the guy on the phone that you are more qualified to determine your need for 999 than he ever will be.

    But, What if . . . ? – the enemy of sensibility.

    Can we have bureaucrats declared a public health threat and lock them up?

  8. The Bah! Humbug! Christmas Edition?

  9. Swine flu is here to stay. All the actions in the world will not stop it. Even Tamiflu ONLY decreases the severity, not cure swine flu. Another great source of swine flu information is

  10. Swine flu is here to stay. All the actions in the world will not stop it. Even Tamiflu ONLY decreases the severity, not cure swine flu. Another great source of swine flu information is

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