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.

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samantha jo campen
13 years ago

I couldn’t agree more re the flu. I had to go to Urgent Care tonight for a head injury (HA! laugh away!) and it was packed. A lot of sports injuries but some people were wearing masks in the waiting room. A high school girl was whispering to her mom and making fun of the people in masks like they were over reacting. I wanted to punch her in the throat and shake her and scream “You think this is a fucking JOKE??” because dude, even if it is just the regular flu, like you said, the flu SUCKS. And I have a little one at home that I of COURSE worry about. So yeah, if me washing my hands a hell of a lot more and avoiding a few more public places makes me an over-reacter then fine. I’d rather be prepared and wrong than not at all.

honeybecke
honeybecke
13 years ago

I’m with you. I’m not freaking out about it, just thinking it through, as you said. We’ve got the masks. Now I just need to store up on pedialite and diapers. Maybe water. Hmmm and some canned goods. See, these are all things we’ll use eventually anyhow,right? I don’t feel silly either. Maybe I feel a smidge smart, even.

Heather C
Heather C
13 years ago

Did you know that The Stand is a graphic novel now? I just finished reading part one (Captain Trips) right before the news of Swine Flu broke. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just a book, dammit.

I am watching the news reports about Swine Flu, and even though there have been no cases at all where I am (Quebec), I can’t help but at least think about it. Because it is scary, how something that seems so banal could be deadly. It’s the flu. We forget how serious the flu can be.

I am really curious about why this strain is so serious and deadly in Mexico, but not in the other countries.

oregoncoastgirl
oregoncoastgirl
13 years ago

there’s nothing wrong with preparedness, I mean, you & jb can probably survive a zombie invasion! (joke) being prepared is great; being afraid is where it gets grey for me.

mnsm31
13 years ago

Swine flu~ um, people are WE ALL forgetting that like mexico, does not even come close to the kind of healthcare we have here in the good Ol’ U.S. of A?
of course alot of people are gonna die from it there. the media does play a big role in the freaking out of people.

Pigs are very closely related to humans~or so I’ve heard, thats why we can use there livers, and hearts in transplants and stuff, so I BELIEVE we will be able to survive.

SJ
SJ
13 years ago

If I said that I wasn’t concerned and thinking about the Swine Flu and how it could potentially affect me and my family (near and far) I’d be lying. It really hit me today when I realized that we were taking a trip BY PLANE to CA in just a few short weeks. I got all freaked out and immediately started making a mental list of things to stock up on. I also washed my hands more today than I ever have….I even talked to my kiddos about sanitary habits. You just never know – and that is what scares me.

I think it’s good to be open-minded about this, even if the media is blowing it way off the charts and nothing happens.

Kate
13 years ago

The recent media frenzy over this flu of course has me thinking, but in broader terms. I mean, we’re probably as likely, if not more so, to be crippled by a major earthquake or one of these damn mountains erupting as we are by the flu. In any case it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, I always say.

The two areas I need to address are having water and cash on hand. I’m pretty sure I could live for weeks on the food we have and we’ve got the guns to protect it. :)

Jillian
13 years ago

I’m avoiding all talk about Swine flu so I’ll just move on from that.

THANK YOU for showing me godaddyguy! I added him to my twitter and now if I have an issue, there he’ll be!

Ashlea
13 years ago

I’m lucky. Australia doesnt have it yet. (Phew!) but I work in travel. So every day the reservations girls will hear of people who want to cancel their holidays. I lady from AU wanted to cancel her holiday to Lord Howe Island. Dude…. SAME COUNTRY!

But then with all the media attention, and the fact that it is now officially a 5, I guess we should all have reasons to worry just a little bit.

So in all that… I am decidedly in both camps. The scoffs and the worriers. :)

Ariel
Ariel
13 years ago

Linda, I love every post you ever post (not an exaggeration), but I rarely comment. I want to say, though, you are spot on with this one. I think what happens is that, just as part of the human condition, we like to stick our heads in the sand when we hear about things that scare us, and making fun of those things may be a large part of that. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being careful and paying attention…it’s the practical thing to do. You and your family will be fine (as others have pointed out, you’re prepared for ZOMBIES), but it certainly doesn’t hurt to keep these things in mind. Wishing you guys the best re: health and well-being. :)

Mama Ritchie
13 years ago

OMG – not only did you crack me and Jason up with this entry (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) you made me think about the things I’d want on hand if we did get the flu. We’re going to Costco this weekend and I’m gonna add some items from the pdf to my list. Thanks, Linda! Hilarious AND helpful!

Chiara
13 years ago

Hey girl! Hi! Remember me?

I’m working in public health in New Zealand , where we have both suspected and confirmed cases of swine flu, and it’s been really interesting to see all the infrastructure needed to contain and treat a pandemic, even in an isolated island nation. Like, I randomly had to deliver Tamiflu to three houses yesterday, wearing a surgical mask and my knee-high boots I just happened to wear to work.

If the public health people do their job well–my coworkers are meeting every plane that arrives at the airport, for example– then no one ever hears about it and life goes on as usual. If any number of really simple things don’t go right–someone decides not to comply with voluntary isolation, a phone call doesn’t get followed up, the epidemiology tracking system goes to hell because of a SQL error–then it can get pretty complicated pretty quickly, it turns out.

Jennifer
13 years ago

Hey,

De lurking here to say LOL to the ‘The Stand’ part.

Also, right on board with the preparation part. We’re not at the mask wearing stage in our house yet, and we’re still laughing our asses off at Jon Stewarts mocking of the swine flu, but we’re also trying to find a place where we can get the pneumonia vaccine without having to make a dr appt. After all, people aren’t dying of the flu, they’re dying of secondary infections, like say pneumonia. :) Just sayin…

OmegaMom
13 years ago

Hear, hear. If they *don’t* warn us, and it turns out to be 1918 all over again, we’re in deep shit. If they *do* warn us, and it fizzles, I AM OKAY WITH THAT. I’d much rather the medical Powers-That-Be be Boy Scouts (be prepared) than stick their fingers in their ears and go “La, la, la, I can’t hear you!”

Hillary
13 years ago

You’re right to be prepared and thinking about it, but, as a health reporter covering this in a place where we haven’t had a confirmed case, I can tell you the media is blowing it out of proportion a bit. The regular flu kills 36,000 people every year, but you rarely hear about it — maybe a story or two about vaccines and the start of flu season. My editors are looking for internet clicks just as much as anyone else though, and so our headlines are things like: US officials says swine flu will cause death — even before there was a US death.

Bottom line: Be as prepared as you want/need to be. Practice good hygiene and you should be OK.

Kizz
13 years ago

The thing is, you’re thinking about it quietly and making some preparations and you have 2 people in your house who are at high risk if the flu comes close to you. My boss, though, is not in a high risk group, does not have anyone in his house who is and he’s all “USE YOUR PURELL!!!!” “WHO SNEEZED?!?!?!” “STAND BACK!!!!!” Which on the one hand is pretty much how he is every cold and flu season but on the other hand is ratcheting up the panic-meter while still expecting me to go out and about in the world and do my job. I can either panic or I can keep on going, can’t do both. So people like him need to dial it down Down DOWN!

Sunny
Sunny
13 years ago

Scheduled to leave for a 10 day vacation in Cabo on Sunday. I think I’ve ready every article and news release from the CDC and WHO. Struggling with the decision of sitting on the beach in the sun as planned or finding another vacation destination. Right now, sitting on any plane, regardless of destination, worries me. #$&!a@!

jonniker
13 years ago

I agree with you. Dude, the flu SUCKS. And further, we have kids, which, for me, makes me crazy enough to begin with — add a potential flu pandemic and I’m amped up to eleven. Yes, yes, the likelihood is small, but if the media doesn’t go crazy and we don’t hear about it, how fast would it spread then? I don’t care how overblown it seems, I think that if the WHO is at DEFCON 2, then the media should cover that shit, yo, so we don’t end up with a disaster.

I’m not buying masks and going under quarantine or anything, but I’m THINKING about it.

(Also, Kizz, I’m sheepishly with your boss, but that’s during regular cold and flu season, too. I HATE workplaces in Times of Sick, and the amount of people who don’t wash their hands is infuriating. I’m the Purell whore.)

Sandy
13 years ago

Totally agreed re: the flu. Coincidentally, I posted on the same topic yesterday on my blog, even w/ a blurb about Twitter.

Synchronicity! :-)

kakaty
13 years ago

I was one who used to scoff at the mask-wearing public because Come On! you think that little mask and a squirt of Purell is going to protect you from the big bad superbug?? But I have a different perspective now that my friend’s kid is on chemo and is basiclly on lockdown inside his house now. You never know the backstory – the mask wearer may have a compromised immune system.

For me and my family – I couldn’t care less…all the cases in the US have been mild and I’m not at all concerned. But I get you on the fact that reading The Stand recently wigs you out…every since reading King’s The Mist I get freaked out in the fog.

Kelly
Kelly
13 years ago

Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention to the flu news, although it does suck to have the flu. Now though I have an 8 week old daughter and have to admit I’m freaking a little. I think we’ll be avoiding crowded places for a little while.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

I’ve been lucky enough to never actually have the flu. We have a couple possible cases here in MA, I haven’t gotten worried but it has made me think. I am not about to walk around with a face mask on and when I think about it I never think about “what if my husband or I got it” I only think about my son, especially after that 2 year old died.

Tia
Tia
13 years ago

Yeah we got hit with the “regular flu” this weekend. Their were times when the 18 month old was just so sick that he just layed there, which as you know they don’t do normally. I think as a parent it always is scarey when your kids get sick. The horrible stories of when the person had flu like symptoms and that night were dead, FREAKING SCARY! I think we should all just stay home and watch Curious George. Does he cover his mouth when he coughs??

Kelly
Kelly
13 years ago

I was thinking just the same thing last night about schools/daycares closing. I live in Austin, and we have had one private school (with kids who took a trip to Mexico) close as a precautionary step and one public school pre-k center close. The private school kids probably have families that can afford time off, but the public pre-k kids? Those kids come from our POOREST families, and now they have to stay home or find alternate (NOT FREE) care for two weeks? I’m not terrified that I’ll get sick, but I wish people would consider the ramifications of both over-reacting early or under-reacting and then dealing with whatever may happen.

Laura
Laura
13 years ago

The Stand + Pig Flu Scare ’09 = AAAAAHHHHH!!!

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Holy crap every time there is something like this (SARS, Avian Bird Flu, Piggy Flu) I think of The Stand. I remember reading that book in like 24 hours in high school one Saturday night and promptly freaking the f*** out! LOL! FYI never stay up all night reading a freaky Steven King book about the whole world ending because it puts one a little on edge…

I hear you though. I mean I want to be slightly worried because having the flu does suck and it can kill us (particuly my children who are more likely to die due to their little tiny immune systems…) I think it is important to be prepared and knowledgable about it even if nothing happens.

Also, on NPR today I heard something about this may amount to NOTHING now BUT that because it is summer it could go dormant and rear its ugly mutating head in the fall/winter later this year so there’s that little tid bit of worry to file away. ROCK ON!

Christina
13 years ago

Opps that anon post above there is mine. Sorry I clicked the button too fast!

Krissa
Krissa
13 years ago

Actually, I think the regular old flu is scarier at this point – the average annual death toll is something like 36 THOUSAND. A year. That is a LOT of death, man! Swine flu ain’t got nothin’ on that!

I’m not saying we should all go around tongue-kissing everyone we know in rebellion, but I’d like to see a little less media fear-mongering. Does it need to be covered? Absolutely. Do we need a State of the (possible) Pandemic address every 15-30 minutes? Well, no, actually.
What is more concerning to me is Egypt slaughtering all their swines, even though there are no cases there, and the flu is not spread by eating pork. I don’t even eat pig, but that’s terrible!

kerchoo
kerchoo
13 years ago

We have some bad bug at my house already, so we’re not going anywhere, but we’re not afraid of a little flu either. I’m all about knowing that there is an increase in cases. I just wish they would be straight about the fact that this isn’t any more of a “killer” flu than the ones that normally go around. Especially after all that bird flu stuff.

The flu, like many other bugs, is always dangerous to those who are vulnerable, so those people need to be on higher alert. The rest of us can just respect that.

Personally I can’t breathe in those masks, so I would probably die faster if I wore one.

Donna
Donna
13 years ago

What gets me about all this is that because of Stephen King, we are as a group afraid of things we probably wouldn’t be. Fog, flu, matted muddy dogs, the military, etc etc.
We are what we read aren’t we?
And yeah, my state has no cases yet, but it’s coming, and I do believe that it is worse in MX because of the health care there, hell even the kid that died in TX was from there, and wasn’t taken in until late in the game.
Wash your hands people, with soap and warm water, and DON’T touch your face! That’s probably all the advice you really need. And you should be prepared for the worst anyway, cuz you just never know.
But this is the important thing. Don’t live your life afraid. It’s not a life if you do.

aimee
13 years ago

I think some cautious preparation is always a good thing. Since my husband and I were both only blocks from the Capitol Building on 9/11 we definitely have our escape route planned. I mean, we don’t have things mapped out and haven’t done drills or anything, but we’ve given it some thought and have discussed it. And, hey, if nothing comes of any of these various scares then having a few extra canned goods and water in the house may just save you a trip to the grocery store one day!

Donna
Donna
13 years ago

Krissa: Yeah, the pigs in Egypt pissed me off too, those people are just too stupid to live.

H
H
13 years ago

Man, you hit the nail on the head. This was just what I was thinking. There’s nothing wrong with thinking about it and being prepared. I want the media to cover it and then I can chose to believe it or not believe it, act or not act, care or not care. Although a lot of people die from the regular flu every year, the thing about this one is that it isn’t the regular flu. It just isn’t – they don’t know that much about it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to panic, but I may want to prepare. Also, I’m not a dooomsday freaker-outer but it is a good thing to have thought through these issues regardless, isn’t it? A random morphing of a pig/bird/human flu virus isn’t the only reason to do so.

Melissa D.
Melissa D.
13 years ago

Sorry if I am echoing the comments above but I really agree with you on the flu subject. I’m not panicking but concerned and am actually going out to buy some extra provisions just in case we get sick and need to stay in. I like the media coverage because it keeps you informed. The flu SUCKS no matter what. As they have been saying, the “regular” flu killed thousands of people a year. I say – take it seriously and don’t panic. Prepare – just in case.

Shelly
13 years ago

I totally agree. I’m not panicking either, but stocking up and having supplies on hand is good anyway. I hope we do all look back on the swine flu scare of aught-nine and have a hearty laugh. But if not, I’d rather be prepared than unprepared. And thank you for posting the link to the Planning Guide. I printed it out and will use it.

spacegeek
spacegeek
13 years ago

Trying to figure out how to deal with this pig cold thing. My husband is an ER doc–on the “Front Lines” as it were, so I am somewhat worried. Then again, 35,000 ppl die *every year* from the normal flu. ER-DH says that’s mostly “old people” who had to die of something anyway. Lovely.
Then my nanny came down with a flu. Not piggy, we had her get tested. So I’ve been home this whole week trying to work full time and take care of the kids. My in laws are headed out on a plane tomorrow for a week-long vacation and they are panicking about getting on a plane. Thank you Joe Biden! So this is a weird time…

Kinzy
Kinzy
13 years ago

“H” hit it on the head – no, the swine flu hasn’t killed nearly as many as the regular season flu has – YET. Nobody, including the WHO or the CDC, knows how this virus is going to effect us now or in the future, so precautions certainly need to be taken. Panic? No. But it’s irresponsible – especially when you have little kiddos – to not be cautious about this.

wealhtheow
13 years ago

I wouldn’t say I’m freaking out, but we’re being a little more cautious about washing hands and not putting our mouths on everything (and by the latter, I of course mean the toddler, as I generally have control over where I put my mouth unless there is ice cream involved). With a little guy under two, I’m a little nervous about him getting it. Even if there hadn’t been deaths, there are all sorts of complications with little ones that can get very serious very quickly. I’m taking precautions I might not have worried about before having kids.

Cara
13 years ago

I assume the media blows most everything out of proportion, and will continue to do so as long as they are advertising based. So, I take what I hear and scale it back a bit. Like you – I want to know what is going on and then I’ll make my own decisions about what to do. Personally, I wish everybody would always stay the heck home when they are sick, rather than coming to work and giving it to me. So, if this makes people do just that for awhile, I’m happy.

Maria
13 years ago

My company is big on Business Continuity Planning and Pandemic Preparedness. I have the lucky fortune of being the BCP coordinator for approximately 900 employees. We ran an exercise that demonstrated staffing impacts and our ability to function should a pandemic (at the time the example was Avian Flu) hit our area. The results were eye opening. Our business would greatly suffer should a pandemic hit our area.

Is this threat being over exaggerated by the media? Perhaps, but I have been in several pandemic preparedness meetings over the past few days that have proven the need to be AWARE is of utmost importance. To not think about what you can do to protect yourself, your coworkers, and your family is in my opinion irresponsible.

Yesterday I was given word that one of the employees I support is actually in Mexico on vacation right now. It brings up an interesting debate. If she’s not showing symptoms, should she be allowed to come to work the day after she returns? My instincts are no, absolutely not…but do we have the right to force her to take a couple of sick days to wait out the incubation period?

amber
amber
13 years ago

I was trying to stay away from the swine flu hype until last night, when all of the schools in our district closed because one kid definitely has it and three others are likely to have it. The preschool my kids go to is closed because they follow the same ISD calendar — so it’s scarily close to home. At the grocery store last night, I heard a clerk telling a customer they were sold out of hand sanitizer, like all together.

Ack!

SART
13 years ago

I’m trying to stay calm and not freak out, but it is getting harder and harder every day. I’m 7.5 months pregnant and can’t take Tamiflu – so that worries me. My 4 year old son had his vaccinations last week and his little immune system took a big hit – so that worries me. And to top it off, the high school that our neighborhood backs up to was closed down this morning b/c of possible contamination from a band trip to Disney World… Disney World?

If Mickey’s got it, we’re all screwed.

Ashley
13 years ago

I freak out about the flu every year, it takes (on average) 140,000 people in the US each year…mostly children and elderly, I have kids so I freak out. This flu is no more deadly than most regular flus, if this was avian flu I would be freaking the fuck out. Didn’t they shut down a Seattle school last year because of a flu outbreak? I’m just saying this isn’t anything new, this particular strain just has a name and somewhat of a face to it. The flu can be fatal, doesn’t matter the strain. They should shut down daycares and schools when there is an outbreak, otherwise it gets out of hand (ahem Mexico). Wash your hands lots, don’t touch your face is the best you can do…or just hole up.

kristylynne
kristylynne
13 years ago

I live at the epicenter of the outbreak in Texas, and all the schools were closed two days ago for TWO FREAKING WEEKS. All city and school events were cancelled. This means I have no child care coverage while I work, and the other parents around here don’t, either. People are missing work because there’s no one to watch their kids. Nobody wants to find a teenage babysitter because the teenagers are all still hanging out together, of course, and could be swapping flu.

My son has been sick with croup, so we have barely left the house in five days. I figure if he’s already immunocompromised, the last thing we need is flu.

I’m already mighty sick of laying in, and my son is bored already, but playdates are also out of the question. As of yesterday, there were four confirmed cases among kids in our town (pop 50,000), and another 30 suspected and pending test results. We’re taking it pretty seriously down here.

lumpyheadsmom
13 years ago

I’m not freaked yet, but don’t people die from the regular old swine-free flu? Every year? Sure they’re probably frail and whatnot, but still.

Coleen
13 years ago

Couple that to the fact that Pertussis (whooping cough) is starting to spread around suburban Philly schools like gangbusters, and you can imagine how annoyed I am at my sick coworkers in the office today. GO HOME!

I think I’m going to ask my receptionist if she can stock up on a few more bottles of Purell, just to be on the safe side.

kristylynne
kristylynne
13 years ago

I’m the Texan who posted a couple comments up. If you want to see how the swine flu can impact a community, take a gander at today’s paper for our little town of 50,000.

http://www.herald-zeitung.com

Churches are closed, day cares are closed, businesses are closed, all community events cancelled, everyone asked to keep their kids indoors. We’re at 140 suspected cases as of today. We only had about 35 yesterday.

St
St
13 years ago

My understanding is that some of these flu bugs (incl this one) can cause something called a cytokine storm and this means that this flu kills the healthy, not necessarily the weak/old. It also spreads faster. When will you be concerned? When it’s too late? Or now, when they are saying, “Hey, we’re not saying this is it, but it could be so be prepared”

C.
C.
13 years ago

I agree with you that it NEVER hurts to be prepared. I just feel better knowing that if it hits here in FL then my family as what we need. And if it doesn’t then hey we can play dress up with the masks. :)