I made it through the week and a half or so it takes for the H1N1 influenza vaccine to take hold, but the flu has still taken quite a toll on me.
Normally I refer to this time of the year as my Hunting Season Lull, but with at least a half dozen patients with influenza-like illness in my schedule every day I'm not sure I've ever been quite so busy. Fortunately most of these folks just need to go home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. If nothing else this year has reminded people how bad it feels to have true influenza apart from what we casually refer to as the flu. Unfortunately I've admitted two patients to the hospital with influenza as well. One was a four month old baby who was more precautionary and the other a middle age woman who stayed four nights with a nasty COPD exacerbation triggered by H1N1. Hopefully she will see this as a teachable moment and finally quit smoking.
We have been lucky at work with only one nurse out for a week with the flu. She received her vaccine only a few days before coming down with symptoms herself. If she had been able to receive her vaccine a week earlier as I did, she likely never would have become ill. The rest of our staff is hanging in there, and all but one, my stubborn nurse, received vaccine.
Our county still appears to be short supply of vaccine at least compared to one neighboring county. We received enough for our staff and pregnant patients. To date, these twenty or so doses, for which we had to beg and plead, are all we have received for our some 3,000 patients.
Where H1N1 has taken its greatest toll on me, however, has been on the home front. My wife and three kids all have come down with it and are now in various stages of recovery. While the struggle to balance one's personal and professional life is always present, trying to meet the needs of people with influenza at both home and work has been both mentally and physically draining.
It's been so tiring in fact that you would think I had the flu.