Monday, November 2, 2009

Piggish Post

This little piggy lived in New York
This little piggy got sick of staying home
This little piggy called about the swine flu vaccine
But everyone said they had none
So this little piggy pulled major strings*
And this little piggy GOT IT DONE!

*Note: The pig from the above rhyme wishes to make clear that she does not endorse "pulling strings" or in any other way demanding special treatment under normal circumstances. Said pig, however, has been known to make exceptions to this general rule in instances where there are wide-spread shortages of a crucial vaccination for which the pig is considered "high risk." Does this make her a bad little piggy? Possibly. Is she willing to apologize? Nope, not a chance.

Okay, I did it. I got the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine. Actually, I'm going to bite the bullet and be completely honest here: for someone who initially wrote this post, I ended up being pretty much a big wuss when it came right down to the wire on this one. I was more or less told repeatedly by my transplant center that I needed to get the vaccine BEFORE the surgery, and that I should seek it out wherever possible, but NY prioritized school children over high-risk adults (a legitimate decision, for sure, but not one that made my life any easier). And when other CFers I knew started to contract the virus, it definitely struck a chord with me. I think it's fair to say that for the past couple of weeks I've been on 24/7 "virus patrol" -- most of my friends and family now assume that I'm officially a germaphobe. They're not wrong.

Anyway, it all came to a head after I ended up in the ER for the clot and spent the next week more or less tied to my thermometer and ready to spring into action (and TamiFlu!) at the first sign of a chill or muscle ache. Not entirely productive, considering the weather was having a great time playing tricks on me by going from hot to cold -- love autumn in NYC, by the way -- and I of course was still suffering from the aforementioned clot, which unfortunately also causes pain and acheyness. Awesome.

Basically, a very uncool way to live. And definitely not good considering that the holiday season is fast approaching in NYC, with its massive numbers of tourists that this year will also include my own family. Suffice it to say that I was NOT down with the prospect of holing myself up and missing all the holiday fun.

I finally did track down a clinic with the H1N1 vaccine, but they were doing a very long, intensive pre-screening process and it soon became really clear that waiting on their ridiculous and not-so-efficient system wasn't going to get me the vaccine any faster. Plus I wasn't thrilled about the whole "public flu clinic" scenario -- not to sound snobbish or anything, but I really didn't want to be exposed to the virus while waiting to be vaccinated.

So I got on the phone and started calling basically anyone I thought could help me with this one, and eventually someone came through. I won't name names here, but suffice it to say I have some very wonderful and amazing people willing to go out on a limb for me. Within 24 hours of stepping up my search for the shot, I had a dose of the vaccine "reserved" for me to get on Nov. 1st. Granted, I did end up having to go to a pediatric allergist clinic, which involved a waiting room full of somewhat ill children, but the nurse was nice enough to get me in ASAP, give me the shot in a private office rather than an exam room, and then send me out into the not-so-germy hallway while she processed everything before sending me on my way. Thank goodness for compassionate and smart nurses who understand high-risk patient protocol. To say that I'm grateful for the chance to have the vaccine is just about the understatement of the century.

Honestly, I'm not normally a worrier when it comes to viral infections, although I do try to be cautious. I hate taking my health fears overboard and I've never been one to stay behind just because of a potential virus scare. But these last few weeks have seen the CF community (particularly adults, from what I can see) get hit hard with this flu. I don't say that to scare anyone (and I do plenty of CFers who have made full and uncomplicated recoveries, to be sure), but in the humble opinion of THIS little piggy, now is definitely the time to be calling your local health department, bugging your clinic, calling your local CFF chapter, and taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure that you're as protected as possible from this particular virus.

As for me, I'm looking forward to enjoying the holidays this year . . . and not just from my apartment window.


  1. Good for you! We gotta do what we gotta do! Unfortunately, we had not been able to find the vaccine yet and my son with CF just got diagnosed with H1N1 yesterday. The weird thing is he isn't that sick. I hope I'm not speaking to soon but really so far it hasn't been to bad for him. We'll see...

  2. Wow. Sounds like my H1N1 vaccine adventure. After getting turned away by 4 clinics because I was "too old" to be at risk for complications. (I even tried telling one I was pregnant!) I ended up calling every GP in the phone book to see if anyone had any available that they'd be willing to give to an adult with CF, and finally someone came through.

    Glad you got vaccinated. Going into transplant without it seems risky, so good thing you jumped through all the hoops. :)

  3. I wasn't nervous until people started dropping like flies (i.e. read CFers). Now I am wondering if I should get it too. Seems that the CFers with lower FEV1 are the ones getting hit the hardest and the ones with higher are the ones bouncing back...maybe it's just me seeing that? But at 40ish% I don't want to be on that "dead" list (ick).


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  5. Just wanted to share a book with you that you may or may not have heard of or read but I recently read Randy Sim's "Living a Miracle" regarding his double lung transplant and his dealing with CF and I think it would benefit everyone to read it. It is truly inspiring and a great book!

  6. Piper, Glad you got your flu shot. I'm scheduled to get mine tomorrow morning. Hugh sigh of relief! Hope you're feeling better!