Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A piece of public health history

So I guess I'll always remember that time that I was pregnant in the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. You know, that one that was really extra super dangerous for pregnant women. It really wasn't very good timing, as far as, you know, getting pregnant, but then, bah! There's never a good time. Maybe my grandchildren will all gather round me when I'm even more ELDERLY than I am now--they will have all NO DOUBT continued my passionate lurve for all things public health--and beg for stories of What It Was Like.

And you know what I can tell them? That it freaked me the heck out, that's what. It scared my already-falling-down pregnant pants off! Seriously, I spend a lot of my working hours thinking and writing about high risk groups and such, and all of a sudden, bam! I'm a high-risker! Quick, someone, do a focus group or something because I can tell you all about it.

And then, I'll say oh, and I remember how I fretted about the shortage of the H1N1 vaccine. The fretting! Checking my phone all the time, for The Call From The Doctor's Office saying, we have it. It's in. And how nobody seemed to get the vaccine, ever, and all the news and clinics everywhere were all hanging signs that said WE HAVE NO VACCINE and there was this general air of quiet panic. And people were getting sicker and sicker, though of course nobody I knew but STILL. And I was high risk and the things that were happening to the pregnant ladies, with the H1N1, they were terrible. Fret.

And then I'll say how one day in late October I got The Call, and how they were all speaking in hushed tones, like they didn't want the ANGRY MOB outside the clinic to hear that they had H1N1 vaccine inside. They were all, you need to come in. Tomorrow. Because we'll have it, tomorrow. And I'm all, can I come in today? Because I'm supposed to come in anyway for some blood work. Or I could come in tomorrow and do the blood thing too. I'd just like to do them both at once, if I could.

And they were all putting me on hold and hushing and whispering and what have you. Then they came back on and were all, okay. Come today. Just check in at the main desk and tell them you WANT TO SEE THE NURSE. And they will know what to do.

So I go in to the main desk and I ask to see the nurse. And the reception people were all, what for? (They never ask me that.) And I'm all, for the vaccine. And they're all--WHISPERING--which one? And I'm all, H1N1. And she all GLARES at me, like for saying it out loud.


And they're all, did the nurse tell you to come in? And I'm like, umm, yes. And they're all, are you SURE? And I'm all, apologetic, ummmmmm, yes?

It was all very cloak and dagger, very exciting. They were all lovely and kind, once it was established that I was not dropping in off the street asking for the vaccine and that I am, in fact, a real live OB patient. It turns out I was their guinea pig (ha, ha), not for the vaccine, which you know just arrives from the sky somewhere, but for their own PROCESS. You know, with the forms where you sign that you know that they think that the risk from mercury in the vaccine far outweighs the risk of actually getting the terrible flu and have you ever had an allergic reaction to eggs, and what have you.

And then I put it on Facebook that I got the vaccine, and everyone was all, WHERE? WHERE DID YOU GET IT? Even someone on the east coast said that. And it freaked me out even more.

And hopefully, that is the end of my story of what it was like to be pregnant during H1N1 2009.


Mac and Cheese said...

I hope so too. I'm freaking out over here and I'm not even pregnant.

Anonymous said...

WHERE? WHERE DID YOU GET IT? No, just kidding. I'm not high risk and I'm in Morocco and we're all fine over here.

I love this post--I love the idea of telling grandkids about the 'Flu of '09! Elliot might have had it but he might not have also. Who knows? He certainly ate enough when feeling better for it to have been swine flu--he was very piggy.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Almost every single person I know has come down with H1N1. Well, every person's child. Including my children. Oh, and I've had it, too. My husband currently has it.

And you know what? IT'S NO BIG DEAL. I've been sicker from colds than I was from H1N1. I know that is not the case for everyone in the country, but hey, this is MY anecdote. : )

Rima said...


(Glad you got one;)

Mrs. G. said...

You renegade!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

The bright spot of being an "elderly gravitas" is that you might have some immunity from all those many years you lived before you got pregnant!

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I like that you are protected now.

The nurses I work with look stricken when they find out I am allergic to eggs AND I have a chronic health condition.

It's very comforting. Really.

Dani in NC said...

Someone broke into a clinic here, presumably looking for the virus. Unfortunately for them, the clinic had given out their last dose that day so the thief left empty-handed.

Heidi said...

So interesting I think the extremes of the continuum, the people breaking in to places to get the vaccince and the people on the other end who fear the vaccine itself.

Sustainable Eats said...

OMG Nora I've missed reading your blog! I just peed my pants and I'm not even pregnant. Looking forward to coming out of the fruit fly haze that is my kitchen and having more time to read your blog again!

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