Kate Corbett: Doctors said I was fine to go out – now they say I've got swine flu
Monday 04 May 2009
Last week I was shopping in Piccadilly Circus, catching buses and enjoying the sunshine in London's parks. Now I am quarantined in my west London home, taking Tamiflu and digesting the news that I have been infected by the highly-contagious swine flu virus. Yet I feel as if I have nothing but a common cold.
Images have been flashing through my mind of all of the people I have been in contact with since arriving home from Mexico nine days ago: the old woman sitting in front of me on the C3 bus, my boyfriend who has been sleeping beside me every night, my friend whose drink I shared just hours after flying in from Mexico.
The most frustrating thing is the conflicting advice I have received from health professionals. Initially, once I returned from Mexico with what I thought was a bit of a cold, I was told to stay indoors until my symptoms subsided, a day later I was told I was fine to go outside as I had no temperature and therefore was clear of swine flu, then a couple of days on I was ordered back inside after my friend I had been travelling with tested positive for H1N1.
I am happy to go along with whatever advice doctors give me, but when it changes each time I talk to a new health professional it is hard to know who to believe and what to do. The doctors and nurses I have been talking to have been doing their best and have been helpful but they have been following advice from "above", which has obviously not been formulated properly yet.
A doctor at the Health Protection Agency called me yesterday to confirm I had tested positive for the H1N1 virus. I'm not sure if I was stunned or relieved to finally have an answer. I had the uncomfortable "swab tests" on Thursday morning when a doctor called at my home so was becoming quite anxious.
The first priority for the HPA doctor yesterday was to obtain all of the contact details for my flatmates and others I had been in close contact with. The four people I live with had already been placed on a course of Tamiflu like myself but now they have to have blood tests. No-one is showing signs of the flu at this stage but they need to be tested to see if they have been exposed to the virus.
It feels like a whole lot of panic over nothing. I would not have even thought about going to my GP about my sniffly nose and cough until I heard the news about swine flu last weekend. The last cold I had was far worse than this one and I feel as if I am over the worst stage. I still have a slight cough but other than that I am full of energy. I just have to wait until I finish my course of Tamiflu in four days' time and stop showing any symptoms, then I will be clear. It seems pretty excessive for a mild flu.
I still have no idea how I contracted the virus while I was in Mexico to celebrate my friend's wedding to her Mexican beau. The other wedding guests are scattered from Tel Aviv to Boston and although I have heard most are fit and healthy, there are some awaiting test results and stuck indoors like me.
Kate Corbett, 29, is an Australian journalist based in London
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