Friday, October 23, 2009

Panic

When news about the Swine flu began trickling out, and the hype about a PANDEMIC! began sweeping through the USA and Canada, I was a bit blase about it. Sure, maybe there's a flu, but you know it doesn't look that bad. You know media, they hype it up a bit. Maybe I'll get the shot, maybe I won't. Besides I don't know anyone who has had it, so I think I'm okay so far.

Now it's getting increasingly hard to ignore when the headlines look like this:

Young Mission Mom Who Died Sunday Had H1N1

BC Being Hit Hardest With H1N1!

60 Kids With Flu At Emergency Per Day as Swine Flu Takes it's Toll on BC Healthcare and Schools!

I still managed to ignore much of it until yesterday, when Hubs and I went over to Lion's Gate hospital for an appointment.

The minute we walked through the doors, something was different. Were those...metal detectors? Nope. Big red signs loomed, telling us to stop and sanitize our hands with some kind of alcohol foam. Ah, must be because of H1N1, I thought as I dutifully used them.

Hubs and I were early, so we sat in the cafeteria and enjoyed a coffee, toying with the idea of just having lunch there after his appointment. The food smelled pretty good, and looked much better then the limp, tasteless salad that I picked through over at St. Paul's the week before. Eventually we wandered down to the ultrasound department and settled in the waiting room, which filled up quickly. As Hubs was taken in for his appointment, I went back upstairs and nonchalantly bought myself a bag of chips from the vending machine.

It was then that I noticed a sign; a different sign, posted near the machine.

A sign that stated that some of their patients had been sick with vomiting and diarrhea, and how visitors needed to wash their hands, not visit sick patients, etc.

Wait a sec. I looked around, suddenly taking in the scene with different eyes. Those signs were plastered everywhere. Why didn't I noticed them when we first came in?

Vomiting? Diarrhea? Are those symptoms of Swine Flu? Or is that something else, like Norwalk, which is also highly contagious? Is that why they have signs about washing your hands and hand sanitizer every few feet?

Can someone suddenly become a germaphobe in the span of a few seconds? I ask that because I swear, that is exactly what happened. Suddenly the very idea of eating in the cafeteria repulsed me. Every surface; every chair, magazine, table, wall, were suddenly looming with icky germs just waiting to pounce. Go to the bathroom? You have to be kidding. It's a germ party in there!

I sanitized my hands again (twice!) and perched on my chair as if germs could seep through my clothing and infect me, refusing to touch anything but my chip bag. The chip bag must be okay, I rationalized. I just won't touch anything else. If someone sneezed, I moved my chair; and pretty soon, I was sitting by myself off in the far corner away from all the people.

Forty-five minutes later, Hubs emerged from the swinging doors of the ultrasound department, cheerfully unaware of the dangers present in the rest of the hospital.

"Hey let's get lunch here," he suggested, "The cafeteria didn't look too bad." I shook my head forcefully and began pushing him towards the exit.

"Hell no! Are you nuts?! I'm not eating here. I'm not even going to the bathroom here. Let's go."

"What the hell is your problem?"he started batting my arms away in irritation as if I were a pesky small child.

I dragged him to the nearest sign and as I dramatically read aloud, emphasizing vomiting and diarrhea, his face contorted in horror. I didn't even need to finish before he began pushing me.

"Go. Go, go, go, go, GO." We quickly made for the nearest exit, stopping only to sanitize our hands twice more for good measure before we left.

As we finally made it to the car, we both breathed a sigh of relief. Safe at last. Back to our little home, far away from hospitals and infected people, where so far everyone is pretty healthy and there is nothing to worry about.

This morning I sat in my pjs with my coffee, content that all was right with my corner of the world when Jake appeared at my side.

"I have a sore throat," he announced, before he began coughing all over me.

"Go away! Cough into your elbow! Don't touch me!" I recoiled in horror-had it followed us home somehow? Were we now infected? Maybe I should've worn a mask....



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