Oink, oink– A Personal Testimony to What it’s Like to Have Swine Flu

Day 1: As I listened intently for the gender implications implicit in the lyrics of Beat It and Our Lips Are Sealed in the midst my honors midterm (yes,  I am in fact taking a course on Gender, Sexuality and Popular Music in the 1980s), a fellow classmate sneezed, I breathed in and — voila! — tiny viral particles invaded my immune system and prepared for ultimate domination. Well, that is at least when, where and how I imagine it happened (it does make perfect sense since she also had sudden onset of symptoms and so on) Regardless, at some point Monday I was infected with the dreaded swine flu, please read on for details.

Day 2: According to my doctor, symptoms usually present the day after infection and come about suddenly. And so that’s how it went for me. Returning home from a productive morning writing an article about “The Science Behind HOUSE,” I had a sudden onset of a severe headache, cough, sniffles, body aches, fatigue, and fever. I assumed it was just tiredness from my “Paranormal Activity” escapades the previous evening, but as I slept the afternoon away, my fever soared higher and higher and I started getting the chills. I barely slept at all that night, between alternating night sweats and chills along with a fever that refused to respond to Motrin.

Day 3: During the day, my fever modulated to around 99 to 100, which is pretty good compared to the scorching 102 or above from last night. I decide to head home so that I don’t spread whatever I have, which of course at this point I am assuming is swine flu as I have already gotten the regular flu shot. This night was the worst. Despite doses of two Advil every 4 hours, my temperature refused to duck below 102, and in order to get any relief, I had to use ice packs to bring down the fever. Once again, slept very little due to chills and returning fever. By the way, did I mention I have asthma? Wheezing, hacking cough and chest pains always brighten the flu experience.

Day 4: Luckily scored a doctor’s appointment this morning, where I was at first told that I most likely had swine flu and would be prescribed Tamiflu as a precautionary measure due to my asthma. THEN, the doctor persuaded me NOT to have the nasal swab to test if it is in fact H1N1 because the office apparently doesn’t have a lot of swabs left and testing is a hassle. However, I insisted because I didn’t want to end up with it again later this season if it turns out that’s not what I have now.

So, we do the swab. Basically, they stick a big q-tip up your nose and it burns like you just snorted hot sauce. But then, despite my symptoms and the impending nasal swab results, the doctor  concludes that I probably don’t have swine flu because I am sitting upright and am “dressed properly.”

Regardless, the test comes back positive and I start my twice a day for five days prescription for Tamiflu, an antiviral medication. A quick summary of the symptoms for the day: fever spiked to 102 midday, had to use those ice packs again but then went down to normal and stayed within 99-100 the whole night! Also, I rediscovered the wonders of alternating Tylenol and Motrin, which helped enormously to keep the fever regulated. Slept like a baby.

Day 5: Tamiflu seems to have worked wonders as I have not had a fever all day. Cough is still present but wheezing has lessened and body aches reduced. Only down side is that the medication has the unfortunate side effect of nausea, but that is easily overcome by eating a little something or taking it with milk.

Swine Flu Indicators (based on my personal experience not a general list, please see CDC for specifics):

Sudden onset


Unproductive Cough (non-mucus producing)/Runny nose

Loss of Appetite

Body Aches (felt like I was run over by a bulldozer)



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