Monday, May 4, 2009

Swine fear

It may seem out of character for one who worries as much as I do in general, but I truly do not typically freak out over health scares that are hyped up by the media. Bird flu, West Nile virus, etc....those illnesses didn't scare me.

But this swine flu/H1N1 threat is a different story. I didn't think much of it the first couple of days that the news mentioned it. Wednesday night, I got a little stressed over it because the first 6 or 7 minutes of the news was dedicated to nothing but swine flu coverage. Then, Thursday morning, when I was driving to work, a nationally syndicated radio show read this email, written by a Texas doctor, on the air. And I began panicking. OMG, my baby. What if she gets it? There are people who have contracted this virus clinging to life on respirators? Brooklyn already has an airway defect. What would happen to her if she became ill with it since she already has respiratory problems?

Then I heard reports that it is usually the 2nd or 3rd person in a household who contracts the virus who is at the greatest risk. Okay, so that means that if my husband and I bring it home from work and Brooklyn gets sick after us, she would be in the worst shape. Then reports that the 23-month-old in Houston who died from it had "an underlying medical condition." Well, great, so does my baby!!! This is something like my extreme fear of RSV over the winter months, but amplified. We managed to escape RSV, with the help of Brooklyn's Synagis shots, and now there is this. And they are saying things like the virus is contagious for 2 days before the patient shows any symptoms and that the germs live for 6+ hours on all surfaces. OMG.

On Thurday and Friday, cases of swine flu started popping up locally. A couple of schools in the area closed down for the next 10 days. All UIL sports games and academic meets were cancelled for 2 weeks statewide. As of today, there are 300,000 Texas students home from school because their schools have been closed because of either confirmed or "highly suspected" cases of swine flu.

Since I had heard that supplies of Tamiflu and Relenza might run out soon, I decided to try to get a prescription for Brooklyn so that we would have it filled, just in case. Brooklyn's pediatrician has been so good to us, and has been so considerate of her special medical needs, so I was sure he would call a prescription in for her.

Nope. I got a call back from Dr. A's nurse saying that they were not prescribing Tamiflu for anyone as a prophylaxis. If Brooklyn shows signs of the flu, she will have to be seen by Dr. A, they will do a test for H1N1, and then prescribe Tamiflu if necessary. I thought that I had gotten this answer because Dr. A's nurse hadn't actually talked to Dr. A and said that it was for Brooklyn because of her laryngomalacia and how bad respiratory illnesses could be for her. But it's so ridiculously hard to call a doctor's office and actually talk to a doctor, I didn't know when/if I might be able to talk to Dr. A himself. I then called Dr. G2, Brooklyn's pulmonologist, and Dr. R, her gastroenterologist, with the same request. I got voice mails from nurses at both doctor's office that were nearly identical to the message Dr. A's nurse had left me earlier. I mean practically verbatim.

So now I am convinced that the CDC or some other government agency is not allowing doctors to prescribe Tamiflu or Relenza without a documented diagnosis of H1N1. I know that they are trying to keep close track of every case of H1N1 so that they can monitor the virulence and how quickly it is spreading. I understand that they don't want to run out of the drugs because too many people wanted it "just in case," but can't you make an exception for babies and children who have the potential to suffer the most from the virus? I don't care if I get a prescription for myself or for Dave. I just want one for my little Brooklyn. I am truly terrified that she will catch this, and so scared of what it could do to her.


Carrie27 said...

I'm with you, don't care about me or my husband getting it, more so my kids. I work in a public school so I could easily bring something home to them.

I freak out more with the twins as they caught a flu bug in October that put them in the hospital for a week.

Sarah said...

I am freaking out with you. I am so afraid of her catching something that there is no true medicine for...something that preys on the vunerable children. All we can do is wash, wash, wash our hands, use hand sanitizer like crazy (which we already do) and keep them out of grocery stores, malls, etc. until this pasees. ((HUGS)) to you...I'm right there with you.

annalee said...

hi to you! i'm glad you shared brooklyn's story with us too. it is a blessing to have encouragement through the blog world as we go through everything! your daughter is absolutely precious.

MrsSpock said...

Tamiflu and Relenza are actually being prescribed left and right. Since I am a nurse reviewer at an insurance company, I've been able to see that requests have gone through the roof- even though there are very few cases of swine flu in the US, and the height of the flu season was in February. I saw maybe 3 requests for these drugs total all winter, and now I see 10 every day.

The problem is, all the Nervous Nellies who, unlike your daughter, do NOT have a breathing problem that could make getting the flu worse, are convincing their docs to prescribe it for no real reason- and those important supplies are rotting in the medicine cabinets of perfectly healthy adults.

If it makes you feel better, every insurance company in the US has lifted its prior authorization requirements for these drugs. Now, you only have to meet the FDA-approved age requirement of being over 1 year old. Before, your Dr had to write a request, and you'd only get it if you had a diagnosed case of flu. If you need it, you can just pick it up without waiting 24-72 hours for the authorization process.

Cibele said...

we are all freaking ouut.. may allour babies be safe. Lyla has a cold now, and I a so scared

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