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Is it a Cold, the Flu, or a Virus?

Just Quarantine Him They Said!

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It was the fall of 2009; my youngest son had already faced major back surgery in February. We were not expecting what would happen next to change the course of our lives, especially his.

It all began with a cough, a sniffle, a sneeze. He has respiratory issues, yes, restrictive/ reactive airway disease. Much like asthma, when his airway is irritated, he has trouble breathing, however, his airway completely closes. It restricts, completely, it is narrower at the end of the windpipe. Asthma sufferers’ airways become tightened, the symptoms and signs are the same with the exception of speed to stop them from passing out from lack of breathing.

On a Saturday, his temperature began to spike. I took him into Patient First, he was positive for the Swine Flu (H1N1). I was advised to keep him hydrated and quarantined. He was given Tamiflu. Within less than 24 hours, we find ourselves in the emergency room. He said that he could not breathe. He was given a breathing treatment and fluids and sent home. By Monday morning, he could not make it to the restroom. He was collapsing in the hallway. I called the pediatrician and was advised to immediately take him to the emergency room. I was in shock; we had just left the emergency room less than 12 hours earlier. Upon arrival at the hospital, we were met by nurses and a doctor. He was immediately quarantined, and I was so confused as to what was happening. He could not breathe. They would not let me in the room. They were performing tests and x-rays. Within hours he was admitted to the pediatric ICU.

swine flu

During the tests, he tested positive for community-acquired MRSA and tested positive for pneumonia. His lungs were completely full of pneumonia. He was not breathing at even 90%. He was placed on high-flow oxygen. Two doctors were assigned to his case around the clock. He stayed on constant oxygen and under constant watch. They assigned breathing therapy specialists to come in every 2 hours to basically beat on his back and his lungs to break up the pneumonia. He began coughing up chunks of flesh and they were bloody. Something did not seem right about it. The nighttime PT nurse sent a sample off. Within less than 14 hours, we found out in addition to the Swine Flu, he also had MRSA pneumonia in his lungs.

We were in deep trouble; he was getting worse. I had a nurse come in and tell me by day 4 that I needed to prepare for the worst. I asked her exactly what that meant, she stated: “once he goes on a ventilator or respirator, he will not come off of it.” I dropped to my knees and began crying, the head doctor pulled me into the ICU waiting room and told me to pray, he said: “pray to GOD for your son’s healing, I will do everything medically possible to save him, you pray.” He hugged me tightly.

Little did I know at that time that this doctor, Doctor Muhammad Rais, would save my son’s life. Every 4-6 hours after PT was performed, an X-Ray would be taken. I would tape the X-Ray to the hospital wall and try to see the difference, I would pray over my son and pray over the X-Rays. I would tell my son, “fight, you have to fight, don’t stop breathing, I know it is hard, but you have to fight.” I did not leave his side.

After almost what seemed like a week and while already on two very strong IV medications, the doctors began giving him inhaler medications. One morning, the doctor came in and told me that there was one medication, not approved by the FDA, it was at the nearby hospital and being flown in. He (the doctor), had two choices, he could give it to my son, if I agreed and signed off on the paperwork, or he could give it to another patient. No one knew the side effects of this medication. I thought to myself “of course I will sign off on this, but what about the other patient?”. I asked about the other patient and was told that he was a child, who had been on a ventilator for over 8 months with absolutely no chance of coming off and his condition was worsening. The doctor made it clear that this medication would not be of good use to the other child. My heart broke for the other parents. I prayed that I was doing the correct thing, I prayed that I was making the right decision.

I chose to sign the paperwork and allow my son to take the medication. After two days, with intensive PT and continuous ICU care, the x-rays begin to show that the pneumonia was clearing up. That’s when you would think things were improving, right? Nope! As the pneumonia began to clear up, you could literally see the damage to his lungs caused by the MRSA. It was eating holes in his lungs. Some were the size of golf balls and some the size of baseballs. No exaggerations. The MRSA was found via a swab in his nose, community-acquired through his school gym likely, when he vomited from the swine flu, he vomited through his nose and inhaled some of it back into his lungs. This is how the MRSA began to destroy his lungs.

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Not actual picture of my son's lungs, this is an example

Now he had to begin further treatment. After almost 3 weeks in the pediatric ICU, a long touch battle, intensive prayers, and my son literally fighting for his life, he graduated to the pediatric floor. We then received a visit from the CDC. My son remained on high-flow oxygen and as every day went by his ability to breathe on his own would go up and down. One night he was taken down for a CT scan, once he came back up, I heard a weird noise in his right lung. He had developed painful pleurisy from being laid down flat. At that time, he told me, “mom, I don’t think I can hold on any longer.”

I begged him to please not say that, to please continue fighting, I could not lose him. I needed him to live.  He was in pain, he was tired. He had not slept in weeks, between not being able to breathe, the X-rays every few hours, the PT every couple of hours, he was worn out. I was worn out. I had not left the hospital the entire time. The nurses told us we were likely to be there another 6-8 weeks.

The good news was I had a great employer. My bosses were so understanding and at the time, I honestly did not realize just how understanding they were. I did not realize how much they prayed and how much support I had from them.

I began to read prayers to my son, I began to read poetry by Helen Steiner-Rice to him, I began to pray with him. I became so involved with his care, the nurses taught me how to listen to the sounds of his lungs, I knew the difference in the crackles, the PT nurses taught me how to do the PT so that I could help speed up recovery, everyone was so great to my son and to me. I learned that the lungs would regenerate their own tissue, however, the MRSA would potentially stay in his blood.

Finally, right about the end of week 5ish, he was breathing at around 89% on his own, trying to take medication by mouth, he could get out of the hospital bed. Then we were finally sent home on very high dose medications. Prior to his release, the doctor was adamant that all carpet in the home be removed and replaced with hardwood or laminate flooring, all bedding had to be allergen-free, the house must be dust-free also.

It took almost 4 months for him to return to school because his immune system was so weak and so low. During that 5-6-week hospital stay, he lost almost 30 pounds. It was astonishing. It was also a true miracle of God that he was alive.

The swine flu of 2009 changed our lives forever. This was a flu-like no other. Some people were scared and some not so much. Prior to my youngest son being diagnosed, we took every precaution. He always washed his hands, used hand sanitizer, he was always a “germaphobe”. So how does this happen? It happens. No matter what you do, no matter what precautions you take, it happens.

Viruses, colds, the flu, illnesses, they happen. Those with weakened immune systems are at a much higher rate and susceptibility to catching these illnesses.

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Facts

 (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/2009-h1n1-pandemic.html)

CDC estimates that from 2009 through 2018, influenza A H1N1pdm09 has caused at least:

  • 100.5 million illnesses
  • 936,000 hospitalizations
  • 75,000 deaths

2019-2020 U.S. Flu Season: Preliminary Burden Estimates

CDC estimates* that, from October 1, 2019, through February 22, 2020, there have been:

  • 32,000,000 – 45,000,000 flu illnesses
  • 14,000,000-21,000,000     medical visits
  • 310,000-560,000   hospitalizations
  • 18,000 – 46,000 deaths

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And now here we are in 2020 dealing with the 2019 Coronavirus

coronavirus

(https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html)

PLEASE NOTE THIS INFORMATION IS DIRECTLY FROM THE CDC WEBSITE LISTED ABOVE

How COVID-19 Spreads

Current understanding about how the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. COVID-19 is a new disease and there is more to learn about how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

CDC Response

Global efforts at this time are focused concurrently on containing the spread and mitigating the impact of this virus. The federal government is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat. The public health response is multi-layered, with the goal of detecting and minimizing introductions of this virus in the United States. CDC is operationalizing all of its pandemic preparedness and response plans, working on multiple fronts to meet these goals, including specific measures to prepare communities to respond to local transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. There is an abundance of pandemic guidance developed in anticipation of an influenza pandemic that is being repurposed and adapted for a COVID-19 pandemic.

To find out more about the CDC Travel Guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html#cdc-response

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S.

Updated March 2, 2020

CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The outbreak first started in Wuhan, China, but cases have been identified in a growing number of other locations internationally, including the United States. This page will be updated regularly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Numbers close out at 4 p.m. the day before reporting.

COVID-19: U.S. at a Glance*

  • Total cases: 43
  • Total hospitalized: 17
  • Total deaths: 2
  • States reporting cases: 10

* These data represent cases detected and tested in the United States through U.S. public health surveillance systems since January 21, 2020. It does not include people who returned to the U.S. via State Department-chartered flights.

COVID-19: Confirmed and Presumptive Positive Cases in the United States*

COVID-19: Confirmed Cases in the United States*†
Confirmed Presumptive Positive** Total Confirmed & Presumptive Positive
Travel-related 12 5 17
Person-to-person spread 4 22 26
Total cases 16 27 43

(https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html)

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Never take any illness lightly, always be diligent!

Wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, use hand sanitizer, practice cleanliness! If you are sick stay home! If your child is sick, do not send them to school!

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As always, thank you for reading. Please share and comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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