Saturday, February 16, 2008

Influenza Case Study: ME

The following is a anecdotal case study of a guy who has influenza. I apologize in advance for the long post. But, if you want to know how it feels to have influenza, read on. As you can see from the graphic above from The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the flu epidemic is practically nationwide.

Here's my story. I was on call the day before Valentine's Day. A typical busy day and night - having to go back and forth into the emergency room to see people. While making rounds on Valentine's Day, I was talking with some people who said the hospital was starting to see cases of influenza. Of course, those words passed right by me because I got my flu shot last fall.

A few hours before the worst. show. ever., I was starting to feel some muscle aches in my legs. And, then, I was feeling pretty tired. But, I always feel tired after being on call. I mean, you hardly get any sleep. I was hoping to sleep things off and feel better in the morning.

The next morning comes, and the muscle aches are still there. A new symptom, a cough, appeared over night. "Oh great," I thought to myself. "I'm starting to get another sinus infection." I'm getting a little sore throat. I'm getting that typical sinus headache. I'm thinking to myself that it's Friday and I can get through one more day of work and I can nurse this sinus infection over the weekend.

My first patient in the office is at 8:30am. As each hour goes by, the aches in my legs become more and more apparent. You know the feeling of overdoing a workout after you haven't been to the gym for a while. That's what my legs felt like - only I really haven't been to the gym in a while. The fatigue was starting to become overwhelming. "Why am I so tired all of a sudden," I'm asking myself. The cough develops more during that morning. So, much so that my patients started to remark on my cough.

Then, I did something that I have almost never done before. I went home to lie down so that I could try to get some energy for and entire afternoon of seeing patients. "Four more hours," I kept telling myself. Even I can get through four more hours and then take care of this illness over the weekend.

As each hour went by, I was walking slower and slower down the hall to and from my office. The body aches were bad, the headache was pounding, the cough was overwhelming at times. At three o'clock I heard from the front desk that three patients wanted to come in right now to the office if they could. Part of me really wanted to say, "Oh yeah, I'm feeling sick, too. And, I want to go home early today for the first time ever." But, I told them ok, I'd be happy to see them.

I finally finished past 5pm. I didn't do any of the paperwork (it's still sitting on my desk). As I was leaving the office, one of the other docs said, "Sounds like the flu to me." What? I had my flu shot. But, even Dr. Val says that It Doesn't Always Work. As like other docs, I'm a terrible patient and I hate taking meds unless necessary. But, I did start Tamiflu about 24 hours ago.

Last night was tough - tougher than the night before. The muscle aches, the cough, the headache, the fever and chills, the night sweats - needless to say, I did not get too much rest. I was even up in the middle of the night to watch reruns of MASH (what a great tv show).

Now, finally, I'm just starting to feel a little bit better - at least better than yesterday. The body aches are pretty much gone. The cough is still there but not as bad as last night. The headache and sore throat are still there, but not as bad as last night. The fatigue is still kicking my butt. I've been sleeping most of the day....

Whoa. That's all I have for now. Another wave of fatigue has gotten a hold of me. I'm feeling tired again. Going back to bed. Hopefully, more to comment on soon. We'll see what tonight brings.....


Anonymous said...

Oh you poor thing. I'm home sick too. They did a flu test on me (what a horrible thing!!!) and thankfully it's not the flu. I'm just stuck taking OTC meds, unfortunately being pregnant those are very limited!

I hope you feel better soon!

rlbates said...

So sorry you got the flu. Remember to listen to the advice you give to patients. Hope you feel better soon. :)

Travis Cody said...

I hate the flu. Hope you feel better soon.

OHN said...

You poor guy. The mom in me wants to bring you a bowl of home made chicken soup.

One of my docs had the flu two weeks ago and for the first time EVER, canceled patients for 2 1/2 days because he could barely get out of bed.

Listen to this old mom and stay in bed, watch a few good movies, drink plenty of fluids and don't push yourself :)

Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

I hear this year's vaccine targeted the wrong strains -

Hope you feel better!

Chrysalis said...

Hope you feel better soon, Dr.A. before you have to be on call. Anyone I know that's had the flu, makes darn sure they get their flu shots after that. 40% is better than nothing. Get well soon.

None said...

I feel for you, but it's really not a good idea to be at work sick, coughing all over your patients... We as healthcare providers need to start realizing that, and if we are infecting our patients, it's not worth struggling through work, even though we're needed.