So I’ve been going merrily about my business, ignoring the distant thunder of swine flu rattling the headlines and, though not feeling myself immune, at least feeling myself relatively out of reach. Nobody I know has had it. And my place of work brought in an excellent “stay at home if you or someone in your family has it” policy way back when the flu thing first kicked off in the media.
I felt secure. I felt buffered. I knew The Flu was still out there but I had a moat around me and the drawbridge was up.
My walls have now been breached. An ugly ballista rolled over my ground troops and fired a flaming rock over my ramparts and set fire to my great hall.
I attended an IT training session at work yesterday. 5 of us in a little room breathing the same air for 90 minutes. Nothing untoward in this. The biggest fear is usually someone with COSHH standard B.O. The pandemic was the furthest thing from my mind.
But just as I was signing my name on the attendance sheet a rather attractive female course delegate breezed in, apologized for being late and calmly announced that her kids were currently very ill at home with Swine Flu.
My chin dropped so fast I still have the pen top imbedded in my beard. My first thought was: in that case what the hell are you doing at work risking a further spread of the virus? But before anyone could speak she made an attempt to qualify her continued presence at work by stating that she thought she’d “probably had it herself by now and was fine”.
Oh great. You think you’ve had it. And you are therefore assuming that you are, as a consequence, not a carrier of the disease.
She then sat down directly behind me.
Have you ever tried to hold your breath for 90 minutes? I can tell you now, it’s not possible though the hallucinations almost make the attempt worthwhile.
So now I’m paranoid. I’ve woken up this morning with a racking cough and a sore throat. My nose is bunging up as I type. Admittedly I’ve had a perma-cold for the last 4 weeks so these symptoms could be just an extension of that but no. I am now convinced I have got Swine Flu and have carried the disease home to my wife and kids.
I should have done more to protect them. I should have stayed away from home for 2 months. I should have placed myself in a plastic bubble for 7 weeks and had the air exhaled from my lungs processed by second-hand equipment bought from NASA. I am unclean. I should be walking around with a bell around my neck or living in a colony in Cheddar Gorge living off berries and discarded McDonald’s hamburgers (a fate worse than death).
I’m trying to be sensible about it but it ain’t easy,
In all seriousness I’m not so worried about myself as my kids. Ben has chronic asthma so already has a respiratory weakness and Tom is only 2, God bless him. The possibility of infection is and always has been a major worry.
I must admit I feel very annoyed about the blasé attitude of my work colleague yesterday. But at the same time, in sane moments, I’m trying not to let paranoia run away with me. Lots of people have had Swine Flu and shrugged it off. But I also know that others have not been quite so lucky.
I just feel annoyed that someone saw fit to ignore the clear stipulations of my employer based on their own inexpert diagnosis of their own health. Whether it’s Swine Flu or not, whether my fellow delegates and I are now infected or not, it showed a remarkable contempt for the health and welfare of the rest of us.
Or am I just letting social panic and media hype get the better of me? Am I over-reacting?
Or am I on the ball? Should I be acquiring black market Tamiflu and Michael Jackson’s old face-mask right now?
Hand on heart, I promise not to sneeze over those who wish to cast a voice of dissent into the ring.