Every year, I have a flu shot. Actually, this year I had a pneumonia shot as well as a flu shot. Both are part of my normal routine. My husband always had a flu shot. My sister has not had a flu shot in many years. She is basically un-insured, and allergic to mercury. Finding flu shots without mercury is more difficult than one might think. (note that there is nothing wrong with having shots that include mercury unless you have an allergy to that item)
Two Mondays ago, my sister came home from work, hacking and miserable and announced flat out, that she was becoming ill. She spent the next two days in a coma on the couch (alternated between sounding like a sick seal) and another three days in bed, partially incoherent. She has just recovered in the last few days.
My college student is what I like to call a recovering asthmatic-meaning he had asthma from birth and then at about fourteen or fifteen stopped needing inhalers or having episodes. The residual effect is that anytime he gets bronchitis or a cold, it can turn to pneumonia. There are no mild cases. He has gone into the emergency room as an adult announcing that "I have pneumonia in my left lung". This time, he did not have pneumonia, but he did have a serious, down and dirty strain of type A Influence-the type that leaves a twenty four year old begging his parent to drive him to the doctor. The doctor at the after hours medical clinic simply listened to him and sent us to the ER. Update: Just to be clear, my college student handles his own health and does so very well. He knows his body better than many doctors do in this area. The cry for transportation was because he knew he would hurt himself or someone else if he drove with a temperature that high. And, although prevention is a wonderful thing, most doctors will not give antibiotics until after bronchitis has officially been documented as something more. Its a conundrum).
Many hours later we were settled at home, with Tamiflu (dammed expensive stuff), an inhaler, antibiotics, and other medicines. Put simply (for those who may be unaware), the "real flu" is not a twenty four hour bug that then improves. That's more likely to be a cold and something you ate, frankly. The "real flu" gives you temperatures sky high, hacking coughs and congestion, possible pneumonia and the general feeling for at least thirty six hours that death might somehow be better. The real flu does not discriminate. You can be an athlete who drinks homemade juice every day and takes ten supplements. A virus is still a virus. While those with lower immune systems are more at risk, the flu visits whom it will visit. Fifty people have died in Dallas so far this year.
I have not as yet had the flu, other than a sniffle. This is not to say that I will not get sick. A flu shot is not a guarantee. What that little shot does do, however, is increase the odds in my favor. By a huge percentage. In general, I don't dispense medical advice, and certainly others need to make their own choices. Unfortunately, there are so much misinformation about that little shot, that I am sometimes amazed. The flu shot does not make you sick (unless you have allergies to mercury). It does not weaken your immune system. It does not make influenza strains stronger. Obviously, it is the middle of flu season and most readers have made their choice. Still, it's worth thinking about in terms of future health. I will not be missing one again.
That said, flu season is still in high form. As I am also on a quest to remain healthy overall and avoid cold and injury I've embarked on a few lifestyle changes. For me these include going outside even in the coldest weather, upping my amount of orange juice despite the sugar intake, increasing my tea intake especially green tea, adding multivitamins to the mix, and washing my hands much more often than normal (most importantly).
I'm also doing some research on holistic methods of arthritis treatments (not throwing out modern medicine as such) including the benefits of knee massage, aromatherapy, herbs and alternative exercise. But all that is for another time.
How are you keeping healthy this winter season?
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