I’m sniffing, I must have Swine Flu

The whole house is sick at the moment. Or should I say the inhabitants of the house are sick at the moment. The bricks, mortar and roof tiles are doing just fine.

An assortment of coughs, colds, sniffs, sore throats, blocked and dribbling noses are running a riot through the family right now, resulting in a never-ending stream of half used tissues that the dog keeps fishing out of the bin and shredding all over the floor. Horrible sticky spots have also been springing up all over the kitchen counter, where the medicine hasn’t quite made it fast enough from the plastic spoon to it’s unwilling final destination.

Of course all of this sniveling misery can only mean one thing. Winter has come. Aside from the calender telling me so, the arrival of this rather unwelcome season is evident for a number of different reasons.

Firstly the most obvious, it’s cold. Secondly the most expected, I’m cold. And thirdly, all the confirmation I needed, the dog is cold. Well I gauge this from the fact that despite his now thick rug like fur, he is spending more time hunting out a heat source to sleep in front of, and less time skulking around outside, waiting to ambush next doors cat.

So given the indisputable evidence above, I decided that this year I absolutely refuse to suffer the cold for as long as I did last year. I would say suffer in silence, but as my husband would be quick to point out, I never like to keep my suffering to myself. Far to damaging to the Yin and Yang of my well being I think – better out than in, and all that jazz.

So how does one prepare for the long months of shivering that lay ahead? That would be adding to, increasing and stock piling the various heat supplies in our home.  First stop, the log basket. Running dangerously low, with only 2 logs, a few scraps of bark and 4 firelighters left over from last year.  Panic over, another trailer load has now been delivered, and the new logs are stacked all the way up the side of the house. Asking for an invasion of termites of course. These logs, in the eyes of a hungry white ant, equate to a 5 star hotel, with complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner laid on for a year. Never mind, a risk worth taking.

Next it was time to buy a new heater to go by my desk. Save me getting all scrunched up in my seat as I sit and type away for hours a day, with hunched shoulders and bright blue nail beds. The open grill on the front does mean Charlie is likely to go up like a furry fire ball if he gets to close, but if it’s a choice between my cold bones or his singed fur, sadly he loses.

Now for the bed. Last year, as I mentioned in my previous post, I ended up climbing in with half my wardrobe on, and my hoodie firmly zipped up and over my head. While this is undeniably a brilliant form of contraception, it was far from ideal. So this year, despite my husbands initial protests, I AM going to get an electric blanket. We may well wake up to find the feathers inside the duvet caked together with sweat, but at least my toes won’t need to curl up in shock as they hit the cold sheet.

Yes, I admit I am incredibly soft when it comes to the cold. I don’t deal with it well, and I definitely comment on it far more than is necessary – especially given that it is a yearly event and has been since time began. Well except for the Ice Age. Brrrrr… now that wasn’t a good time to be alive.

What can I say, I am English. It’s programmed into our DNA to hate the cold, talk about the cold and complain about the cold. Particularly, dare I say, those ‘less hardy’ people, like myself, who are born anywhere south of Birmingham.

I admit that I am that person who opens their front door in the middle of a freezing UK winter, wearing nothing but T-shirt and shorts, then proceeds to blast the person clear off the front door step with the scorching gust of central heating that escapes from my beautifully over-heated house.

So this said,  I am obviously not that person who would consider an Ice Hotel as a suitable holiday destination. I don’t care how warm the reindeer skin sheets and elk fur blankets are supposed to be. I am also not the sort of person who has, up until now at least, ventured anywhere near a ski slope. Though to be truthful, this is probably more to do with my incredible inability to balance on anything other than a flat, solid, stable surface. I would be that person who breaks their leg before even making it out of the ski hire shop.

Anyway, I digress somewhat. As I was saying, we’re all sick and sniffy right now. And I thought nothing of it until my daughter brought home a letter from school yesterday. I say a letter, what I mean is a ‘lets induce panic and clear our classrooms so the teachers don’t have to work’ announcement.

According to the WA Health Authorities, children showing any signs or symptoms linked with Swine Flu should not only stay off school, they should also remain tucked up at home until they are completely better.

So lets run through a few of those possible symptoms.

Fever, yes, we’re all slightly warm – Tick. Cough, yes, both kids sound like asthmatic dogs – Tick. Runny nose, well like I said we’re running and blocked – Tick, Tick.

Righty then. Given how long we were all sick for last winter, I’m calculating that according to the Health Authorities, we should all remain in quarantine until around about October time. Seriously, is this for real? We haven’t been, or even know anyone who’s been near Mexico, the US, Canada, Japan or Panama in the last 7 days. We don’t live near the one confirmed case in Western Australia. And neither I, nor any of my family suddenly feel the urge to eat from a pail or start rolling around in mud.

Maybe I’m just numb from the media always trying to fan the flames of panic, just to sell papers and fill headlines. Perhaps, after living through the SARS in Singapore, I am now somewhat unfazed by such a potential ‘threat’ to mankind. Either way, I refuse to get my tissues in a knot, hide away and hyperventilate over the very worst case scenario.

I don’t believe you can live in fear of every runny nose and cough. Swine Flu is just that – a type of flu. Just one of the many types of viruses that spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually. It’s been a while since the big 3 influenza pandemics of the 20th century killed tens of millions of people. Medical science has progressed, vaccinations are now available, and according to the doctors I have spoken to, it is no longer the death sentence the media likes to portray. The emergency services here are apparently already under siege with people calling for ambulance with suspected Pig Flu. That’ll really help with those long, long waiting times at the A&E.

Call me completely irresponsible, but my daughter needs to learn and I need to work, so she’s not camping out in front of the TV all winter with a red nose and a box of tissues.  She’s had a flu jab and can wear a face mask if need be. So unless she suddenly grows a curly tail and starts to squeal, she is going to keep going to school.

And finally, before you tell me I’m being flippant, I’m not making light of the situation, merely questioning how the situation is being dealt with in the press. And to prove my point, here are some Swine Flu facts for those who are panicking, coughing or just curious.

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