Killer Flu


Flu Wave Stresses Out Hospitals

What does it feel like to be working in an emergency room during this nasty flu season? Monday. Every day feels like Monday, typically the busiest time of week in the ER.

“Now instead of having a Monday peak, it’s seven days a week of a Monday,” said Dr. Bill Frohna, who runs the emergency department at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

It’s still too soon to say whether this is a historically bad flu season. But it’s already clear that emergency rooms around the country are filled with a feverish throng that is much larger than the last time around.

Washington Hospital Center had just 20 patients test positive for flu all of the last season. This season, as of Monday, there were already 179 cases positive for flu.

Maria McCoy is one of those patients. She had been miserable for more than a week with nausea, vomiting and other symptoms. She’d had her flu shot, so she didn’t think it could be the flu. But she kept getting worse.

“I called 911. They brought me straight here,” said McCoy, 52, speaking on Thursday from a hospital bed in the ER, where she was, indeed, diagnosed with the flu. “It’s really miserable.”

McCoy has plenty of company.

“We started to see a lot of activity in the South and in the Southeast in the middle of November and toward the end of November, which was about a month earlier than what we normally see,” said Tom Skinner, a spokesman with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “And since that time, activity really has picked up across the country to where most states are seeing either moderate to severe activity.”

According to the CDC, more than 112 million Americans have been vaccinated against flu this season. The vaccine is about 60 percent effective, which is a decent percentage for a flu vaccine. But that means some people who get immunized, like McCoy, will still get the flu.

This year’s strain of the flu, H3N2, is particularly virulent, Frohna said. He compared the surge in patients with those in other years.

“Usually there’s a week or two ramp up, a peak, and then a week or two downturn,” Frohna said. “So far, we’ve been basically on a ramp up for about five weeks, and I’m not sure if we’ve seen the peak yet.”

Every few years we hear warnings that “this year could be a bad one” as flu season rolls around. Well, this year is a bad one.

Hospitals are barring visitors. Emergency rooms are overflowing. People are dying. ProudMilitaryMom’s own mother was one of the victims.

We have lost much of our fear of influenza. Thanks to modern medicine and good luck the flu is usually more of an inconvenience than a life-threatening virus. We have discovered vaccines and effective treatments. Meanwhile it’s been many years since a pandemic of a killer strain has reached our shores. In 1918-19 the Spanish Flu killed 50 million people worldwide.

This particular strain is really nasty. I’m no medical expert but I know that all strains of the flu are dangerous for young children and old people. This one is laying out everyone it hits and it doesn’t seem to care if they were vaccinated or not.

Protect yourself. Avoid public places and crowds. Practice good hygiene. Stock up on OTC medications now. If you or someone close to you gets ill, make sure you/they stay well hydrated and rested.

Right now the flu is hitting hardest in the northeast, but I’m sure it will visit every neighborhood in the nation before it’s done. I plan on staying in semi-quarantine for the next couple weeks.

Our thoughts and prayers are with PMM and her family.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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55 Responses to Killer Flu

  1. myiq2xu (D) says:

    If I lived in a big city I wouldn’t go out in public without a surgical mask.

  2. elliesmom says:

    We’re headed into Mass General today for some fairly routine tests for Elliesdad. I tried to talk him into waiting, but when his doctor makes an appointment for him, he never questions it. Must be the German genes. We’ll be in the outpatient part of the hospital so hopefully we’ll not have too big an exposure. If I get the flu (we’ve both had our shots) from this, he won’t have to worry about the results of his test.

    • votermom says:

      I’m like you – I avoid hospitals – germ /virus central!
      Good luck! Drink your vit C etc before you go. πŸ˜‰

    • Send him in and wait in the parking lot. He’ll look at you as being even weirder than normal (assuming the normal husbandly mindset) but afterward you’ll be able to keep the home fires burning while he’s retching and sweating. Next time he might take your advice and reschedule. πŸ™‚ Oh, he’s German? Never mind.

      I’ve become proactive WHERE and WHEN appointments are made and kept. Early or Late times usually avoid crowded waiting rooms and the smaller, less active labs and specialists are just as medically effective as the popular, crowded spots. One lab with 18 patients waiting was three doors away from a competitor with no waiting. For a fasting stick! Providing transportation for four medically challenged adults in the household means I see the insides of at least four medical facilities a week

  3. DeniseVB says:

    People are getting the flu even with the vaccination because there are several strains of flu virus going around 😦

    So sorry to hear about PMM’s mom. Thoughts and prayers with her and her family ❀

  4. Lulu says:

    I have been in lock-down since before Christmas. Dr Piss and Moan told me no crowds, eat healthy, stay away from little kids, and no getting chilled or wet. It is boring. But I get tachycardia and/or arrhythmia if I have an infection which is no fun either. I’m glad I got a bunch of books for Christmas.

    • elliesmom says:

      I had Legionnaire’s a few years ago. It left me with less than optimal lung functions. My doctor is not a happy camper I’m going into the “den” today, but she’s the one who scheduled my husband’s appt for the endoscopy. Who did she think was going to take him? I’m not hanging around the hospital waiting for him, though. I’m getting out of the hospital and walking around outside. They can call my cell phone when they need me to pick him up.

      • cj says:

        Pick up a disposable mask at the drugstore first, I would. You pick up every damn thing in a hospital…it’s not worth the risk, especially if you’ve already got lowered lung functions.

      • Dollar bill sez it was Dr’s. assistant who set app’t. Dr. time usually too valuable to wade through phone maze. Stay warm and well.

  5. So sorry for your loss, PMM. Hang in there.

    I teach, so I’m exposed. I am going the extra mile to make sure I sanitize my hands about every hour or so, though. Otherwise I’m keeping indoors. Not that it will help much with a husband who’s a nurse and a daughter who’s a cashier…

  6. Thanks to all of you for your prayers. Mom would just want all of us to stay as healthy as possible.
    She was at South Shore Hospital in MA. Every entrance had signs posted asking people not to visit unless you were a primary care giver. Masks, sanitizer and boxes of tissue at each entrance.
    The nurses are overwhelmed- most are on overtime- working 12 hour shifts.
    Almost all of our family was there- with the exception of the sister in TN- we thought Mom would go sometime on TH- it was iffy if I was going to make it in time. But she works with little ones as a preschool teacher and the time to get from TN to MA? Turns out she could have made it in time- but Mom was knocked out on a morphine drip.
    Fortunately, she was in her right mind when she was brought in and was adamant about not being intubated or kept alive on machines.
    Tough old bird she was.
    You all take care of yourselves. Get your vaccine if you have not already- even if it is not working 100%- it may increase your chances of survival or having a less ass kicking episode.
    People are dying in droves. Mom had underlying health issues- 87 yrs old with COPD, high blood pressure and had had a stroke in 09.
    That hospital was kind of frightening. Some of the younger nurses were not so good at hiding their fear. And they WERE afraid.
    I suppose there is only so much misery and dying you can watch without needing some mental health counseling.
    I am so wanting to see my daughter and hug and console her. But until I am sure I did not bring anything back it will be text message and phone calls only.

    • cj says:

      So sorry PMM; such a tragic thing to happen.

    • foxyladi14 says:

      My prayers for you and your family.PMM. Be careful we love you. πŸ™‚

    • Somebody says:

      PMM I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. I wish I had some magic words to take the hurt away, but I don’t. I’m glad you were able to be there. You take good care of yourself! (((((Hugs)))))

    • Hoping for your peace of mind during this bereavement.

    • So sorry to hear of your mother’s passing PMM. I’ll be thinking of you in the weeks ahead.

    • gxm17 says:

      My condolences on your mother’s passing, PMM. She sounds like an amazing woman right up to the end.

    • swanspirit says:

      PMM I am so very sorry for your loss , and a very great loss it is to lose your mom . I am grateful she lived to such a great age and that you had such a wonderful mom for so very long . I am certain she lives on in you and all your family , and at this moment is probably not far away at all . HUGS and LOVE

    • Karma says:

      So sorry for your loss and under such circumstances. My heart goes out to you and yours. At least your mom was surrounded by love. Hopefully your sister can be with the family soon.

  7. Simofish says:

    PMM – I am so sorry.

  8. tommy says:

    Its saddening to hear about your loss, PMM. May she rest in peace. Prayers for you and your entire family.

  9. t says:

    I have had this flu. Just got over it. It is awful. I woke up several times in the middle of several nights feeling like I couldn’t breathe. It was terribly frightening. I almost went to the ER once. The only thing that kept me home was that I was too sick to feel like showering for a day and a half, and I didn’t want them to see me like that. I guess I’d have rather died? LOL. Aw stigma. I have an inhaler, since I have mild asthma. I used that and slept upright in a recliner. I got better by morning.

    Yes, I am better now. I am about 50 years old.

    Get your flu shot.

    I’m very sorry for your loss PMM.

    • votermom says:

      The only thing that kept me home was that I was too sick to feel like showering for a day and a half, and I didn’t want them to see me like that. I guess I’d have rather died? LOL

      πŸ˜€ Reminds me of the mom telling her kid to wear her good undies – “what if you get into an accident – you want the doctors to see those!”

      I’m so glad you’re better, t.

      Even a mild case of the flu feels like hell.

    • cj says:

      Scary…glad you’re better t. I waited too long to get the vaccine & now I have to keep my fingers crossed that I don’t get infected for the next 2 weeks. I could kick myself for procrastinating.

      • Erica says:

        CJ, it’s still worthwhile to get the vaccine if you can. Building immunity year to year is valuable even if the season is well underway where you live. And practice the good hygeine and exposure precaution folks have been mentioning.

  10. foxyladi14 says:

    Stay away from crowds Dr,s And Hospitals. Garlic Vit, C.
    Wash those hands. Please be careful everyone you are Precious. πŸ™‚

    • Somebody says:

      In addition to garlic and vitamin C, ginger and lemon balm are also good. Honey is said to have anti-viral properties too.

      Elderberry has proven anti-viral properties. You can get something called Sambucus at a health food store. Bonus it’s very tasty, but you have to take it a couple of times a day to be effective, it leaves your body fairly quickly?? I’ve read that some drink a couple of ounces of elderberry wine or apparently there is elderberry brandy out there too, both of which are cheaper than the Sambucus. In any event there are studies out there on elderberry, the first of which were in 1917 I believe during the Spanish flu outbreak, because it was used by people that avoided the flu.

      We gave my daughter Sambucus during flu season while she was in chemo with her doctor’s approval. I can’t say if it did or didn’t help, we also employed many other tactics. I do know I just bought 3 bottles and we all started taking it…….I figure it certainly isn’t going to hurt us.

      Some people swear by Oscillococcinum, but apparently a small percentage of people have problems with it. Still something good to have on hand in case you get sick.

      There is also something out there called andrographis, which in some studies showed to be as effective as prescription anti-virals. It is more effective when taken with ginseng apparently. You can take it as a preventative 3 times a week according to what I read. This is a relatively new kid on the block so there isn’t a lot out there.

  11. catarina says:

    So sorry, PMM.

  12. I don’t think this insane weather is helping. Mild winter in the northeast last year and another now. We need the deep freeze to kill the damn germs!

  13. Somebody says:

    I agree avoid crowds if you can. If you must go to the store take along some clorox wipes and hand sanitizer, also a travel size can of aerosol disinfectant…..that last one in case somebody is hacking up a lung you can spray the air.

    Another thing many people don’t think about is taking a few seconds to wipe down things you buy at the store before you put it away, within reason. Somebody loaded those trucks and stocked those shelves, most of those individuals are paid hourly and don’t have sick days…..if they’re off work they’re not getting paid. Plus many sick people go to the store to get medications and stock up. Many viruses can survive on hard surfaces for quite a long time……heck some of the nastiest stuff like C-Diff can survive MONTHS on a hard surface in the right environment.

    Masks are fine to protect yourself, however be warned that the paper masks are only effective for about 20-30 minutes. The molded masks are effective for hours comparitively……think masks used for dust and plaster. The molded masks are available at medical supply AND your local hardware store or Home Depot. Of course a full blown filtered respirator mask is the most effective also available at hardware stores, but that might be a bit of overkill.

    *****Just so you know this information came to me via my daughter’s oncologists. She had leukemia and had to go through a couple of years of chemotherapy that by necessity completely wiped out her immune system because leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. So the advice above is legitimate******

    Also, don’t touch your face when you’re out just don’t! Don’t touch your face until you have had the chance to wash your hands. Speaking of washing your hands get in the habit of doing that, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands at least 4-5 times a day. Always wash your hands before preparing foods, duh!

    If you have several people coming in and out of your house, make it a habit to use clorox wipes to wipe down counters, door knobs, TV remotes, frequently used light switches, toilet handles, faucet handles, fridge handles, telephones and possibly computer keyboard and mouse if shared. Once you’ve done it a couple of times you can go through your house in a matter of minutes wiping these frequently used items. (If you live alone the above is not necessary, probably not needed for retired empty nesters either……but someone with kids in school, yep)

    These are many of the steps you take when you have someone in your home with no immune system. My daughter is fine now, but given the flu outbreak we’ve reverted to the system above……because hey it kept her healthy and there was a major flu outbreak, as well as some other nasty bugs when she was in treatment and we thankfully avoided them so we know it works. An ounce a prevention is worth a pound of cure!

    • Somebody says:

      In case anyone is confused the clorox wipes at the store are to wipe down your buggy.

    • HELENK says:

      thank you so much for the good information.
      if you do not mind I am going to steal it and post it on my fb.

    • Thanks for the good info.
      The dumbest thing I heard in the hospital was one of the young nurses telling my sister she could just throw the used tissues in the trash. She said the flu germs died as soon as they touched anything.
      Sis had been using the tissues to wipe the corner of Mom’s mouth as she had a lot of phlegm.
      DUMBEST stupidest thing I have ever heard a nurse say. Bar none DUMB.
      We kept throwing the used tissues in the biohazard waste bags.

    • foxyladi14 says:

      thank you πŸ™‚

  14. Constance says:

    I am sorry for your loss PMM.

  15. Somebody says:

    Another simple thing people can do is create a “cleaning” station at their door. Put a bottle of hand sanitizer there and train yourself and family members to use it when they enter the house. Asks guests to use it too.

    Be careful of your shoes, your shoes walk on all kinds of stuff. Especially…..repeat, especially if you’ve been in and out of a doctor’s office or hospital. Most people don’t think about their shoes……if you’ve been to a doctor or hospital do your family a favor and leave the shoes outside until you can wipe the soles down. (Not altogether a bad practice for anyone no matter where you’ve been)

    Better yet if you must go to a doctor or hospital buy yourself a cheap pair of knock off crocs and let those be your doctor/hospital shoes. You can drop crocs in a bleach solution ensuring anything on them gets killed.

    After a few months we ended up with dedicated hospital shoes, but we were in special circumstances, I realize it may not be feasible for everyone……but be aware of where you shoes have been!!!

    PS……Have you guys picked up on the fact that I’m a germ-a-phobe! It’s OK, I know I am…..I come by it honestly from the school of hard knocks.

    • LOL Somebody- My sis in law was talking about our need to disinfect our shoes. I went to Mammoth Caves last year- and anybody entering or leaving the caves has to walk across mats that disinfect your shoes to prevent the spread of a disease that is killing off bats. If you have been hiking in another cave within the past x amount of time prior to your visit there are additional procedures.
      It would be smart if ALL hospitals had these mats. Walking through a sanitizer solution- smart!

  16. foxyladi14 says:

    the school of hard knocks that is where I have learned every thing I know. :).

  17. michelina51 says:

    PMM: Prayers, Love & HUGE HUGS to you and your family

  18. swanspirit says:

    I had the swiny hiny flu , and I really thought I could actually die at several points . I was very sick for six weeks . I was a hair away from going to the ED myself when I began to feel a bit better .
    Take every precaution you can to prevent getting it , or decrease the severity of it .Bolster your immune system as much as you can , and avoid anything you think might be contagious . Definitely invest in hand sanitizer , or antimicrobial soap. Hibiclens is a little pricey , but worth it and easy on your skin as well.
    I know this might be considered a little extreme, but i regularly wipe my kitchen and bathroom down with a mild bleach solution about once a week or so .
    And as an RN , I avoid hospitals as much as possible πŸ˜‰ This kind of epidemic is one of the reasons I believe home care is a viable alternative to hospital /assisted living / nursing home care .

    • myiq2xu (D) says:

      I bleach my countertops and cutting boards at least once a week. I always bleach cutting boards after cutting raw meat or chicken. I throw a cup in the dishwasher too.

      • swanspirit says:

        I have been doing that for years . Bleach is cheap and one of the few things that kills everything ., up to and including MRSA which is no joke and more common than the flu

        β€’ A bleach:water solution of 1:10 (3/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water) kills MRSA and is effective for bathrooms and locker rooms, * but this bleach solution only remains effective for 24 hours after mixing , so it should be discarded at the end of the day . The solution can be put in a spray bottle and the area sprayed with the solution and allowed to dry to kill MRSA.

        β€’ A bleach:water solution of 1:100 (1 Tablespoon bleach in 1 quart of water) can be used effectively to clean areas less likely to be as contaminated (kitchens) *as above.

      • Somebody says:

        Bleach is the best thing to clean with, but as I’ve already confessed, I’m a germ-a-phobe.

  19. piper says:

    My condolences to you and your family. Never easy to lose any family member even if they’re old. It was fortunate that you could be with her.

  20. piper says:

    Not sure if anyone mention this – remember to eat a small container of real yogurt everyday to aid in digestion especially if you’re taking meds both prescribed and OTC. Check to make sure the yogurt has acidophilus and other probiotics and not too sugary

    • Somebody says:

      Very good tip Piper. If you have to go on antibiotics eating yogurt or taking probiotics is important.

      Many, many people have been exposed to C-diff and don’t know it, most won’t until they’re on antibiotics……hence already weak and sick and then C-diff. Eating yogurst or taking probiotics is no guarantee, but it’s usually pretty good.

      If you’ve ever been around anyone with C-diff or known someone that had it then you know how horrible it can be……it kills people.

  21. votermom says:

    Since we are sharing tips, one of the things we do is avoid allergy meds during flu season. They suppress your immune system.

    Edit: also, very basic, gargle with warm salt water when you suspect you’ve been exposed or feel like you’re getting a virus.

    • lyn5 says:

      I started taking apple cider vinegar capsules, and I do the salty water nasal wash when I get home from work.

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