Saturday, August 8, 2009

Health - my own personal H1N1 take

I'm worried about my health lately. Both my husband and I have been falling sick with flu-like symptoms for the last two months. We'll be fine for about two weeks, then fall sick again. I mostly get infected with it by him (haha! no offence intended daddy) or by someone at the office. And curiously enough, usually the newest bug to hit his office will also be hitting my office. So the flu virus (what is the plural of 'virus'?) is working its way in and around the Klang Valley at a really fast pace.

And since I've been having this fever since Monday, and actually been feeling off since the Friday before that, we decided (my husband and I) that it was time for me to take the H1N1 test, just to you know, appease ourselves. I probably don't have it. But at least if I do have it, then I can take the necessary precautions. I heard that before today, it was really difficult for ppl to actually get tested. The nation is told to go to government hospitals to do the test, because at first, they didn't equip private hospitals with the facility. Then it got really bad, where the queue to take the test would be 800 persons long, and they decided to open it up to other hospitals. Then it got easier, where instead of a blood test, they just do a swab test. Which was what I did. They didn't swab the side of my mouth, like I thought they would (ala CSI), but they made me stick out my tongue as far as possible and scraped somewhere close to my throat. So I was like, "oh okay..." At first the nurse who did it barely even scraped anything, so I asked her afterwards, "Are you sure you got anything?" So she scraped again. She had never done it until that day.

For those that are wondering what the procedure is like, this is how I went about getting the test. You don't just walk into the hospital emergency room and ask if you can get a test done. We've had friends who have tried this and got turned down at two hospitals. And I've read several newspaper articles of ppl getting turned down when they walk into a hospital, even govt ones. So what you do is, go to your usual Panel Clinic. Tell your doctor your flu symptoms, and if you have had a fever or the flu symptoms longer than 4-5 days like me, usually the doctor will comply, and issue you a referral letter to see a specialist at one of the designated H1N1 hospitals. If you or your panel clinic doctor don't know which hospital to go to, the Ministry of Health has a list posted on their website. Go to: for a list of govt hospitals and for a list of private hospitals.

You then go to the hospital admissions counter with your referral letter, and go through the whole entrace procedure. For me, we chose Assunta Hospital in PJ, because it's covered by our company insurance, and even though SJMC is on the list, ppl we knew got turned down there, but it could just be they didn't follow proper procedure. SMC is also on the list, but I was told it's no longer an ING panel hospital. So anyway, get a GL from your insurance to cover the cost. They'll do this at the Hospital Admissions. I didn't need to make an appointment with the doctor that my panel clinic doc referred me to, I was just a walk-in and slotted into the waiting list. So after about an hour or so or more, we went in. We talked about my symptoms and I asked to do the test, and he complied. Then I was ushered to the place they do the test, and they swabbed me. We made a follow-up appointment for Monday (3 days later). I got better medication for my flu. And that's it. You are supposed to know the result the same day, and I'm sure if it was serious (like a positive or what), they'd call me. But they have not, so I'm thinking I don't have it.

So that's how you do it. If you have really bad flu symptoms, right down to nausea and breathing difficulties, follow the steps I outlined above. Those hospitals will only entertain you at the emergency room if you really really cannot breathe properly. But if you just have chest pains when you cough, like me (i'm asthmatic too), then get the referral letter from your usual doc. Emergency Rooms are for emergency cases after all, and I think they won't really layan you if you seem to be okay. If you are sick and have been sick for a long time, just get the test done. Like me, I didn't have to pay anything. It's better to be safe than sorry.

And oh yeah, I read on the site that if you are a breastfeeding mother, and you are sick (with H1N1 or not) it is advisable to continue breastfeeding your child. Your body is creating anti-bodies at that very moment to fight your illness, and by breastfeeding you will in turn pass those anti-bodies to your child so that his/her immune system will be boosted, and your child will be stronger as a result, and will most likely be able to fight off the same illness. Like Salma, she hasn't shown any flu symptoms yet. Not even fever. So her anti-bodies are working. :) She's the best. But if you are really really sick, wear a mask when breastfeeding, or better yet, pump your milk and get someone else to feed him/her your breastmilk by bottle.

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