Friday, October 23, 2009

Bird Strike

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.

Until yesterday.

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).

*Sigh*

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.


34 comments:

Gina said...

The thought of you sitting there trying not to breathe was very amusing.

I've met several swine flu sufferers and breathed their air and escaped unscathed. One guy who was sent home from work with Swine Flu attended Sports Day in the summer and even ran in the Fathers' Race. I think all the other fathers broke world records as they tried to run away from him!

It doesn't seem very responsible, I agree but I don't think it is possible to hide from Swine Flu - unless you never go shopping or out in public or whatever.

Steve said...

Gina: unless you never go shopping or out in public... Hmm. That doesn't sound so bad. In fact some days that sounds positively wonderful! ;-)

Löst Jimmy said...

hoho that's sounds like a sensible person right there. Incidentally, we had a flu pandemic lecture at the factory the other week...where we were 'encouraged' to give our personal contact details in case colleagues fall and they want to call you in from holidays to take up the strain (no viral pun intended)...the 5 year plan production must continue etc etc
Meanwhile, fifth floor management vaccined up direct operations from their quarantined portal frame bunker.

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: I'm proud to say that a two tier system does not operate in my local authority. We are all in the same shit together. We're just expected to all paddle in unison.

Old Cheeser said...

Oh dear. Let's cross our fingers that it's just a common cold. I'm sure you'll be okay Steve.

Kind of thoughtless of that work colleague to turn up and risk spreading the infection though.

Steve said...

OC: I guess for every person who battens down the hatches there's someone else who'll just shrug and throw open all the windows... I don't feel so bad now I'm at home but seem to have developed a smoker's cough (without ever actually smoking)!

HEELBALL said...

My view is that if one is going to catch a bug there's not a lot one can do about it. I have been ill for a fortnight and have had symptoms nobody else at my place of work has had. Likewise, they have had different symptoms to me. Thus I have no idea where I caught it from.
Fingers crossed though, eh? Some people are just plain inconsiderate.

Steve said...

Heelball: you're right... if a virus has got your name on it there's little you can do but hope for the best. Thanks for stopping by and hope you're feeling better soon!

Clippy Mat said...

you know what? i think we are all letting the social panic/media hype get the best of us. it's the main topic of conversation everywhere and everyone is either over reacting and saying hurry up and vaccinate us all or the opposite, don't vaccinate because it's too risky. it's such a dilemma. but i have a feeling you were quite safe yesterday. we have to stop worrying so much.
;-)

Steve said...

Clippy Matt: there definitely speaks the voice of sanity!

Löst Jimmy said...

Steve I know and love local authorities; your not in UNISON by any chance?

Have a good weekend

Valerie said...

I haven't met anyone who has or knows someone who has swine flu. It was very irresponsible of that young mother to show up knowing she could be passing on germs. I'm sure you're fine. Oh by the way, there's a lot of 'coughs' around.

French Fancy said...

I do hope you get away with it, Steve. Maybe your constitution is so hardy and hearty that the germs will not want to mix with the perma-cold ones (which we are also battling with here. How many days can a person's nose run?)

Suburbia said...

I am so with you on all of this! I range between thinking it is all media hype and worrying about my children dying!

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: I am indeed in Unison and have been a Unison man for a good ten years (for all the good it's done me).

Valerie: there are indeed - and worse things around beside. Here's hoping my luck holds out...

FF: I admit that's what I'm counting on - that my immune system is already on red alert and is punching above its weight like a good 'un.

Suburbia: the worries of being a parent! I never fully appreciated it until we had our little one.

Gypsy said...

Without wanting to make light of your obvious concern I have to tell you that I was quite openly chuckling all the way through this post. I do love the way you write.


When swine flu first hit our shores I must admit it was very worrying but since then quite a few people I know have had it and it seems to have swept through their life with barely a ripple. I don't even hear it mentioned much anymore but I do feel your concern for your little men especially Ben with his asthma. That's worrying enough on it's own. Both of mine were on ventilators from 18 months old and it breaks your heart to hear their little chests rattling and wheezing.


In spite of my mirth (sorry) I do hope you all escape it's clutches and that you get over whatever you've got very soon.

Steve said...

Gypsy: mirth is most definitely allowed (and was if I'm honest sought) so thank you - and for your good wishes too!

Löst Jimmy said...

Steve, I ask only because I am in that particular 'club' myself, I actually tutored for them in the (now dim) and distant past.
It's to be in it than out I think.

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: yep, absolutely. I've never had to call on them myself but it is reassuring knowing there's back-up should I ever need it.

Löst Jimmy said...

Forgive me for prying and labouring the job topic but your LA has not gone through Job Evaluation (Single Status) yet by any chance?

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: labour all you like and ask away. We went through it all a few years ago I think - I have a vague memory of reading various memos and policy documents about it.

The Sagittarian said...

As usual I'm late to the party and all the good comments are taken...I hover between them all like most parents. However, best to be safe than sorry I reckon, maybe next time you see that thoughtless idiot you can sneeze over her and mutter darkly about a ruined Mexican holilday...

Selina Kingston said...

I think, even reading through the humour of this post, you are right to be worried about your little babies, especially the one with asthma. Swine flu has been treated as a bit of a joke amongst us fit and healthy adults but there is no doubt that children have been hit bad by this nasty bug.
Curse that woman - for being good looking and for being so blase with her germs!
Hope you and yours stay well - take good care x

Steve said...

Amanda: that's not a bad idea. I've always wanted to wear a sombrero to work...!

Selina: so far so good. All seems quiet on the germ front... but I'm not sure how long the incubation period is. Thank you for your good wishes.

French Fancy said...

p.s. hope Ben tidies his room today without the tantrum. Fingers crossed for you all - (it is a Sunday chore I seem to recall)

The Poet Laura-eate said...

What an idiot of a woman coming in when her kids had it.

I would sue if I were you!

Though I do think the virus is somewhat overblown in the paranoia stakes, much though I understand your concerns having children.

Steve said...

FF: we've seen a big improvement in this situation since Tom has moved from a cot to a bed - because Tom now has free access to the room and its contents Ben is having to keep the room relatively tidy period!

Laura: as soon as the fever starts I shall be telephoning my lawyers never fear!

Löst Jimmy said...

Hi Steve, thanks for being patient in answering my la/union questions. I wish you a good week ahead.

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: happy to oblige. Hope you have a good week too.

Owen said...

AAAAAAAHHHHH - CCHHHHHooooooo !

Gosh, couldn't you have accidentally spilled a large hot coffee on her, forcing her to go home to change ? No way she could have been back in 90 minutes...

Here in France they said the epidemic would be peaking in October... we're still waiting...

A Write Blog said...

I know people who know people who have had swine flu. So far it has kept a discreet distance.

I wonder if some of those who think they have swine flu are correct. It sounds like that silly woman came in wearing her children's illness as a kind of badge of honour.

I'd have kept quiet.

Steve said...

Owen: alas we are not allowed food or beverages of any kind in the IT training room. The PC's must be protected at all times. Us humans, however, can take pot luck!

AWB: I wouldn't have come into work at all! Even if it wasn't swime flu I'd've been tempted to pull a Ferris Bueller!

The Crow said...

"...Michael Jackson’s old face-mask ..."

HA!

I feel so damned guilty for laughing over this line, but it sneaked up on me and took me by surprise.

Steve said...

The Crow: I think MJ had that particular effect on a lot of people...! ;-)