Tuesday, May 12, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu: A Personal Scare

After spending six weeks in Florida for medical problems unrelated to the flu, I finally decided to return home to Merida on April 14. I flew my usual route from Tampa, Florida, to Houston, Texas, and then on to Merida.

While at the Houston Airport, I did notice lots of folks coughing, sneezing, texting, talking, more coughing, chasing kids with runny noses, sneezing, and of course talking loudly on their cell phones, sharing their individual calls with everyone around them. On board the plane, there remained lots of coughing and sneezing but there was a reprieve with the cell phones.

After I got back, I started with a dry cough that led to full blown flu symptoms. The Swine Flu was just making headlines and they published the symptoms. Cough, headache, ache all over, temperature, nausea, vomiting, etc., and so on. Good Grief! I had each and every symptom. I fought it for three days on my own and lost the battle.

I first went to the Emergency Room at Clinica Merida and saw the Doctor there. He immediately ordered a series of three breathing treatments, 30 minutes apart and then, a chest x-ray. He told me I had something going on with my lungs, an infection, and gave me three medications to take. I had absolutely no confidence in this doctor or the medications he prescribed. I did get the meds, used them as directed for two days and felt absolutely no relief.

We called Star Medica, explained my symptoms, and asked to see a specialist. They immediately set me up with a doctor who specialized in epidemiology, Public Health, and in addition, was a medical doctor. I went to see him and he immediately put me in the hospital. I needed IV antibiotics to fight the symptoms I had plus regular breathing treatments and oxygen 24 hours a day. I had left lower lobe pneumonia and bronchitis.

The test kits for the H1N1 virus were just received from the CDC in Atlanta the afternoon I was admitted, and I had a nasal swab, throat swab, and blood work. The results showed that I did not have the H1N1 Virus! I thought for sure I did. This “quick test” is not 100%. My lab work and such were forwarded to Mexico City for final diagnosis.

The doctor and hospital far exceeded my expectations. Absolutely everything was just wonderful. Clean, modern, efficient, helpful, sympathetic, and caring treatment like I have never had before in a hospital. I would highly recommend the hospital and the doctor I saw, who is now my primary care physician. (Dr. Jorge Teyer)

And, my hat is off to the Mexican Government for their swift reaction to the possible pandemic of the H1N1 Virus. Schools were immediately closed. Public gatherings were cancelled. Offices and banks were closed. People were advised to stay indoors. Sporting events were allowed, but no spectators. Protective masks were handed out. And just about everything was cleaned and disinfected. I was pleasantly surprised at the fast action from the Government. In addition, after I was discharged from the hospital, two nurses from the Government showed up at my home with an informational sheet on the flu, and a 5 day supply of Tamiflu, one of the two medications that are used to fight the H1N1 Swine Flu Virus. This was free of charge!

There are really two little morals to this story. First, if you do not have confidence in the hospital or the doctor you are seeing, change hospitals or doctors. Your initial instincts are usually correct. And second, if you are sick, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Don’t wait like I did thinking you are the toughest guy on the block because you’re not!


  1. I disagree, you ARE the toughest guy on the block! In the colonia! In Mérida! In the Yucatán! Yikes, Mikey, this is downright scary. I want to see the document that comes back NEGATIVE from DF. See ya pooltime!

  2. How scary that had to be for even a tough guy like you! I hope that all comes back negative and glad that you had good medical care. Let us know if you need anything!

  3. Mikey, I am so glad to see you are feeling better! You are right about seeing the doc immediately for this sort of thing. You have my permission to remind me that I said that when I get all cranky and don't want to see an MD.

  4. Mikey, glad you are doing better. (Theresa had informed me in an email of your problems so I didn't follow up on your kind invitation to have a burger with you while in Merida.) I'll try next trip or maybe we can do that seafood place you were telling me about at Cubancheros.

    I'm glad you had such a good experience at Star Medica.

  5. Glad you followed your instinct and went to another doc. It sounds like you had a bad scare but it turned out well and that's what is important. Take care.