First, can I just say how useful Twitter was for me today? After crabbing about my broken blog and the difficulty I was having getting help from my hosting provider, GoDaddy.com, @MommyMelee suggested I try @GoDaddyGuy, who not only wrote me back right away but also CALLED ME. And then, unlike the tech support person I’d talked to beforehand, he totally, like, figured out the solution for fixing my problem, even though it wasn’t technically a GoDaddy issue since it involved a mysteriously deleted WordPress file (which I swear I did not do but I am also very nearly as tech-savvy as a potato, so who knows), and seriously, this dude saved me days of tearing out my hair and probably accidentally hosing all my millions of blog posts which despite their lack of historical value and shameful prevalence of the term “Dirty Sanchez” would totally break my heart, and anyway: GoDaddyGuy, whoever you are, you ROCK.

Second, I would like to talk about swine flu for a moment, not because I think you need to hear more about the subject from some random dumbass who is an expert in exactly nothing, unless you count the “Sinking Pirates” episode of Curious George because let me tell you I can quote that sumbitch forward and back, but here’s the thing: I don’t understand all the backlash against the topic lately. The predominate opinion seems to be that we should just all calm the fuck down and that the media should quit scaring us into hysteria with the heavy coverage.

Okay, fine. But hey, how about not telling me how to react? Because I don’t think I’m panicking, but I’m thinking about it. I could be pooh-poohing the whole thing and mocking people for talking about it, but I guess I’d rather spend some time considering how our family can prepare a little bit. If this is all overblown and nothing happens and we all look back on the Swine Flu Scare of Aught-Nine and laugh hearty tears of told-you-sos, man, I don’t really care if I’m the douchebag who actually wasted some brain energy wondering about worst-case scenarios.

I’m not even necessarily super-concerned about any of us getting sick—although, hi, guess who re-read The Stand like two months ago, and if you haven’t enjoyed that particular Stephen King tale, let me break it down for you: EVERYONE ON EARTH DIES OF THE FUCKING FLU—but have you considered the implications of schools and daycares shutting down in your area? Or services being hard to access, like maybe even groceries? And supplies getting low on things you might need if someone did get sick? We randomly decided to pick up some N-95 particulate respirator masks tonight and where there would normally be an entire shelf, there was one lone box.

As for the media (the liberal media, of course) hype, well color me crazy but when the WHO phase goes to five, I personally don’t mind having a little news coverage on the topic.

Lastly, I heard a disgusted New Yorker being interviewed on NPR earlier tonight. “It’s the flu,” she said. “I mean, god. It’s just the flu.” All right, assuming this doesn’t mutate into some sort of horrific superbug that wipes out the entire planet and the few remaining survivors are drawn to the forces of good and evil and an epic battle must commence, but have you HAD the flu? Dude, it fucking sucks. I mean, the plain old regular does-not-kill-you flu sucks big hairy balls, and I don’t want it, and I don’t want my kids to get it. So yeah, I still kind of care about the possibility of a rampaging virus, even if it isn’t deadly.

This is the strangest public topic I’ve seen lately, where to profess that you actually give a shit about it is met with condescension. I figure, let me do a little quiet fretting and hopefully a little useful planning, and hopefully later you can tell me what an idiot I was for doing so. Not a losing proposition, in my mind.

PS: Right after I hit publish, I saw on a news feed that Seattle officially has it. The article links to a useful Pandemic Flu Planning Guide.

Comments

67 Responses to “Accolades, flu-ry”

  1. Molly on April 30th, 2009 9:05 am

    I doubt this flu will illicit a widespread cytokine storm response – there would have been many more deaths by now if that were the case, and the c-storm idea has only been postulated as one possibility. As it is the only deaths reported have been in Mexico (as of right now) including the two year old boy who had just returned from a family trip to Mexico even though he died in the U.S. It could be possible that people of Mexican decent may have a shared genetic component that is making them less able to defend themselves against the bug. It could be possible that the H1N1 strain is already mutating and since it is a combination of porcine, human & avian flu a less virulent strain may be crossing the borders or some people already have some immunity protection against it. I agree with Sundry – preparedness is all you can do (plus washing your hands) but people also need to remember that healthcare in 1918 was not equal to what we have today, not by a long shot – even cytokine storm reactions can be successfully treated if caught in time.

  2. Katherine on April 30th, 2009 9:46 am

    Hey, if it gets all the women at my office who don’t wash their hands after using the restroom to reconsider, I’m damned thankful for the piggy virus. And I LOVE the “sing the abc song” tactic to make sure you’ve lathered long enough. I may take up the practice in my office restroom just to shore up my “wierd new chick” reputation.

  3. Corinne on April 30th, 2009 10:26 am

    [Leaping on the bandwagon, lustily preaching to the choir] And, let’s take it easy on making fun of people for worrying about the flu. Perhaps some of those people have little ones that were born prematurely and have compromised lung function and/or immunity. For those people, it’s not “just the flu.” It’s a cause for genuine, serious concern. Stop making me feel like an asshole because I care if my baby can breathe.

  4. Rachel on April 30th, 2009 10:36 am

    I’m so with you. I live in Santa Clara county in California and we’ve had 2 schools closed because of swine flu. I work as a health clerk at an elementary school so guess who kids will come to if they’re feeling sick? ME. I DO NOT WANT THEIR SWINE FLU. Or their regular flu, for that matter.

  5. kakaty on April 30th, 2009 11:12 am

    one more comment…I just listened to BBC’s “World Have Your Say” over lunch and they were talking about this. The basic tone of the comments from around the world is that this is a “rich country problem” and that we (the West) are over-reacting to a small problem. Most site the fact that in poorer countries you see don’t this panic over TB, Malaria, Dengue Fever and other types of outbreaks that occur and can kill thousands over the course of days. Basically as a rich, healthy country we don’t know how to handle a threat so we over-react. It was an interesting discussion.

  6. hollylynne on April 30th, 2009 11:13 am

    It is so worth worrying about (and if you’re like me and work in an office where nobody ever stays home sick, you’re probably really fecking worried). It is just simple statistics, these things spread exponentially.

  7. squandra on April 30th, 2009 12:46 pm

    I’m in local media, and we hear a lot of people (even a few in these comments) asking, “What’s the big deal? The common flu is much deadlier and no one panics about that!”

    I actually feel like — in my own shop’s coverage, at least — we are beating our audience over the head with the answer to that question. But for what it’s worth … Why Health Officials Are Worried About This One:

    New strains of the common flu appear every year. But because they contain human DNA only, the human body has some natural immunity against them. Swine flu, however, contains avian, swine and human DNA. Because of this, the human body has NO natural immunity to this virus.

    Without that immunity to stop it, a virus spreads “wildly.” So, while swine flu is not more deadly than the common flu, it is SIGNIFICANTLY more communicable.

    That’s the first problem. As Sundry pointed out, you can imagine the infrastructure breakdown that would happen if EVERYONE got the flu. Not to mention, when everyone is sick, that includes a lot of elderly, a lot of children — a lot of people who are too weak to survive even a mild flu.

    That’s why they’re working on a vaccine. But — and this is the second problem — a virus is capable of mutating very quickly. While we wait months for that vaccine, swine flu COULD become much more dangerous. Then we have not only infrastructure breakdown and weak people dying, but healthy people dying, too — from a virus that, again, spreads unfettered by any natural human immunity.

    (It’s also true that the Mexican health care system is lacking compared to it’s counterpart in the States. But, if you think about it, most people in the U.S. don’t need medical treatment to NOT DIE from a mild virus like swine flu, they just need it to feel better more quickly. Yet, people in Mexico — otherwise healthy adults — ARE dying. So there is something of a medical mystery there.

    Not to mention, there are plenty of people in this world living in countries that have health care systems comparable to Mexico’s, and some of those folks are now also at risk.)

  8. Jenny on April 30th, 2009 2:14 pm

    And anyway, I always base my shopping lists on Stephen King books. New cell phone, handcuff keys, pepper spray for the possessed Saint Bernard. Extra tampons. Stuff like that.

    (I agree it’s good to plan for the flu. I just thought your reading was particularly bad timing, and therefore funny.)

  9. Josh on April 30th, 2009 3:58 pm

    Haha Sundry, you’re such an adorable motherly worry fag. Why don’t you spend less time worrying about non-dangerous bull shit like animal flus, and spend a little more time preparing an underground bunker for the real life zombie plague which really will kill everyone on the planet. (except a lucky and deserving few)

    Also, it took me about thirty seconds to figure out that when you mentioned “the WHO” you weren’t talking about a band. Shows how much I care about getting sick. (but then again I touch real life people shit almost every day with no gloves, so I’m a little jaded to the dangers of microscopic disease)

  10. Maria on April 30th, 2009 5:16 pm

    So now my proudest Internet achievement as to date is “Sundry mentioned me in passing on her blog.”

    I wish I was joking.

    Seriously dude? That guy called me too. And completely fixed some wack-ass shit going on with my domain forwarding. I’m decently tech-savvy and I have no idea what he did to make it work.

    I used to haaaaaaaaate GoDaddy. But GoDaddyGuy on Twitter actually completely changed my opinion of them. Go team customer service.

    SO SAY WE ALL.

  11. MichelleRenee on April 30th, 2009 6:44 pm

    I love The Stand.

    Stephen King is so good at freaking me out.

    How could you not connect the Superflu with Swine-flu?

    But since reading his books, I have NEVER looked at crows and clowns in the same way.

  12. Rachel on April 30th, 2009 7:53 pm

    I think a lot of people underestimate the suck factor of the flu because they’ve never actually had it. They get a bad cold that lays them out for a while and assume it’s the flu. I had the flu when I was 16 and very healthy, it attacked my throat and inner ear so that I was mute for two weeks and deaf for two months – my hearing never did quite recover. This was of course on top of the two weeks of high fever, halucinations, palpitations and being unable to walk unassisted. One of my college professors got the flu and nearly died a year later because of how badly it has scarred his heart.

    Which is not to say that anyone should should be panicking and dousing themselves in hand sanitizer (which only kills off the weak germs anyway), just that the flu is a lot worse to have than many people think.

    I take it as a good reminder to check my medicine cabinets for supplies (goodbye Tylenol which expired in 2001) and restock my pantry with canned food that we will actually eat, as opposed to the sketchy tinned things with the labels off and the odd single serving saffron rice packets.

  13. Meagan on April 30th, 2009 8:14 pm

    I’m with you. My mother-in-law works in biodefense in DC and advised us to get 4-5 weeks worth of food for our household, in addition to avoiding unnecessary public trips. So far we’ve spent about $200 on food (human and dog/cat) that we can use up later if this thing fizzles out. Not freaking out, just a little more prepared than we were before. The media thing is a little weird. My whole family is on the TX border and they’re not worrying because no one’s closed the border yet. It seems like we’re getting conflicting messages, like “level 5 pandemic!!!” but also “geez relax.”

  14. GB on April 30th, 2009 10:44 pm

    I’m not sure if this is just happening on my end or if this is legit buttttttt your older entries page is now bare! I’m seeing just a link to your archives (pre 04/06).

  15. Lori on May 1st, 2009 7:46 am

    I’m currently at home on day 3 of a regular flu/possible sinus infection. I feel guilty for staying home again, even though I know it’s the smart thing to do “swine” flu or not, and I know that I was so dizzy when I tried to go to work I had to lie down in my entryway for 5 minutes.

    I think it’s wise to be prepared, no matter what. You’re never going to look back (if/when this blows over) and think “wow being concerned for my family’s health and safety was a waste of time”. Concern and planning does not equal panic. It’s just common sense.

  16. Annie on May 2nd, 2009 10:42 pm

    I have a baby who’s not quite three weeks old; I’m scared shitless. It’s as though the media has completely changed its tune, and that makes me more than a little suspicious. my husband made me read The Stand when we first got together. I only wish I couldn’t see all the comparisons between the book and what’s going on with H1N1.

  17. Jem on May 3rd, 2009 5:46 am

    I was surprised – NZ has something like 3 confirmed cases (I saw CNN reporting 13, liars, although many of the suspected cases were on the same school trip so they probably do have it) and they all go to school just down the road from me, yay. I work at one of the most famous tourist attractions in Auckland and I’ve been surprised at the lack of masks I’ve seen – I figured many overseas visitors would be wearing them, but I only ever see about 1 in a day.

    But honestly, I’ve thought about it too – I always get complications from the flu (and colds) as it is, I’ve never had one where I haven’t gotten bronchitis as well because of my (pretty bad) asthma, and because of this I get the flu BADLY, and so I suppose I’d be more at risk if I did get the swine flu. But mostly I’ve just been concentrating on not touching my mouth unless I’ve washed my hands, I mean I’m not REALLY going to go to work in a mask or anything.

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