My teenage daughter is recovering from H1N1. For weeks, I’ve pressed an ear against her thin, little chest (No, dear, I don’t mean “little” in that way) listening for the slightest gurgle or wheeze.
I’ve hovered countless times, peering into her eyes, looking for the slightest hesitation, and asked, “Are you having any trouble breathing?”
She has, so far, answered no.
She coughs phlegmatically, yet produces little phlegm. She sniffs, but no longer wants to blow her sore, red nose. Her fever, aches, diarrhea, chills, fatigue, and sore throat have all gone away.
She’s…fine. Yet, I still hover and query as she grows more impatient with my ministration.
I can’t help it. I’m her mom.
My 10-year-old remained healthy throughout her sister’s bout with H1N1, but I had to get her vaccinated. We’re big on vaccines in this house. We prefer a poke in the arm or spray up the nose to days or weeks of feeling miserable.
When my teen became infected, the H1N1 vaccine had just come out but couldn’t be found in our area. I was determined to track it down for my youngest. The county health department wasn’t much help. The pediatric clinic my girls go to, the largest in our town, said it had not received any and didn’t know when they would.
A couple of days ago, I realized that I had failed to ask the clinic if they knew who did have the vaccine. I called and was told they’d received a surprise shipment that morning from the health department. They were vaccinating for that one day only and would stop at 4pm. It was 3:10 and my daughter was somewhere close, on her way home, bouncing on the back seat of the school bus because that’s where fifth graders get to sit.
She finally got home and we jumped in the car, arriving at the clinic about 3:30 p.m. Because the parking lot was full in front, we had to park in the back forty, hike to the building, and climb through some bushes to get to an entry. Which we did–in a hurry–with me pushing or pulling her the entire way.
The line at the pediatric desk was long and slow. I kept glancing at the clock while shifting from foot to foot. The line was not moving.
In a loud voice, I asked if the H1N1 clinic was in this office and if it was really closing at 4 p.m. Whispered conferences were held behind the desk and someone said the clinic was two floors up, but they were out of vaccine. Being a mom, I shouldered my way to the front of the line and explained that this couldn’t possibly be because the woman on the phone told me they would be vaccinating until 4 p.m. and we had another 20 minutes.
The whisperers disappeared into the back. Mutterings were heard, but not deciphered.
After four minutes, a head appeared around the corner and said they were still vaccinating in room 330.
We rushed to the elevators. I just stopped myself from butting in front of a woman who was slowly moving forward with the aid of her walker.
Shortly after, and with five minutes to spare, I watched my youngest get vaccine sprayed up her nose.
I know that some parents are worried about the vaccine.
It was made quickly, and that makes parents wonder. I had some questions for a few scientists when the vaccine came out, which they answered, and I realized that, although the vaccine was made quickly, it did go through clinical trials. It was made the same way the seasonal influenza vaccine is made each year. It’s effective and it’s safe.
I’ve seen both sides of this rotten H1N1–one child infected, the other protected. There is no doubt as to which I prefer.
(This personal account was provided by Trish Parnell, a very relieved mom.)