Get your damn Flu shot - A horror story

I’m an ICU nurse, and I want everybody to know how badly Influenza can fuck you up.

41 year old female gets the flu. “Infuenza A”. Presents to a small town ER in acute respiratory distress. While there, she codes with an MI (Myocardial infarction, i.e. heart attack) brought on by the respiratory distress. If the lungs can’t process Oxygen, well then Holy shit.

They transfer her to a hospital slightly more equipped, but it’s not mine. Mine is on “diversion” meaning we are full and there’s not a single bed in the house available. She has another MI and codes again. This time she is down for a full hour. When I say “down” I don’t mean “passed out”, I mean she is getting chest compressions, defib shocks, epinephrine, intubated, everything. It’s a code blue that lasts a full hour.

They get a pulse and stabilize her. Finally, she comes to my ICU. But, this woman now has hypoxic brain injury stemming from from the previous two times she was coded. CPR is a piss poor replacement for heart function.

I have her off the ventilator now, she can breath on her own. She’s even awake and oriented. But she can hardly move, I don’t trust her to be able to even swallow. She can wiggle her toes and weakly grasp her hands, but that’s pretty much it. We put in a PEG because she needs nutrition. Hopefully, she’ll get function back, but it is going to take years. I’m hopeful, because I always am, and she has good family support.

But, DAMN. All this shit happened to a woman with ZERO medical history.

Get your fucking flu shot every year.

When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I didn’t get them, because they were often rationed, and I’d “never had the flu”-- true as far as I knew. I did get a lot of cold, some bad, but nothing like the horrors of the flu I’d heard tell.

So I thought I was doing a good thing-- I had some kind of natural immunity, and I’d leave the vaccines to people who needed them.

Then someone pointed out that it was possible one of my bad colds I got every year was a mild flu. Not everyone is flat on their back; some people can function with the flu. And if that was true in my case, I was still contagious, and someone who caught it from me could get a serious illness, from me.

I always get the shot now.

I don’t get bad colds anymore, but I had my tonsils out around the time I started getting regular flu shots, so I’ll never know which thing had more effect.

I got a flu shot in October of last year, but I came down with the flu last month anyway. I’m pretty sure it was the flu; I was out of work for four days and my throat was so swollen that I couldn’t speak and breathing was getting difficult. It has been two and a half weeks since I first came down with it and I’m still not well.

I guess I got a different variant than what the flu shot was supposed to cover. But still, get your flu shot.

I want to say it’s the shots, because tonsils are part of the immune system meant to trap pathogens so the immune system can good a good read on them. But it occurs to me that the tonsils’ value in that role probably decreases over time. How old were you when you had them taken out?

A few years ago I told my doctor I didn’t think I needed a flu shot. He said that was because I hadn’t witnessed someone struggling mightily just to get a breath due to the flu. I think it’s easy to be complacent like I was if you’ve lucked out so far, but sometimes the flu kills. I now get a shot every year.

Poor girl.

I flake out on a lot of preventative medicine stuff. But I’m conscientious about getting my annual flu shot.

I had the flu once. A long time ago, back when I was in college. Once was enough. I was out of commission for two weeks. My sister–who was also sick at the time–helped to care for me. If I were that sick right now, living all alone, I don’t know what I’d do.

It just took me way too long to read this. Why, you may be asking. Well because I am nearing my third day of being down with the flu, and my vision is blurry.

The first day, I was in denial. I just felt tired and thought it was seasonal allergies. The symptoms came in waves that tricked me into thinking that whatever was going with my body was gone. I even had sex (sorry, honey! I hope you don’t get it), went on a long scooter ride and made a 9x13 pan of Spanakopita, though by the time I was done with it all, I could barely stand.

At my worst, I almost went to Urgent Care yesterday. Right now I’m feeling a bit better, but only because I am full of Ibuprofen for my aching body and Aspirin for my pounding head. It’s exhausting just walking down to the kitchen.

I rarely get sick. I don’t remember having anything worse that the common cold in decades. This has knocked me off my feet. I started getting flu shots 3 years ago. This year, I blew it off, and oh boy do I regret it. Sure, flu shots don’t cover every strand, but they help protect you.

Yes, armedmonkey, I’ll get my fucking flu shot next year. And every year after that. Sorry about your patient. And thanks for all you do. Nurses rock!

Phew, over and out, typing this wiped me out!

My mom got the flu shot every year… until her doctor’s office stopped offering it last year and her insurance wouldn’t pay for it at a drug store (I offered to pay for it, but she turned me down). She got influenza A and died of pneumonia stemming from it on March 9th.

Get your flu shot.

The flu shot IS always a crapshoot, but here’s the thing. Even the targeted variant is only some percentage protected against. Flu vaccines will only slow the fucker down so you immune system can kill it. (It’s more complicated than that, but go with me)

The thing is, it’s not a binary thing. A flu vaccine is only partial immunity. Even if you are vaccinated against the targeted strain, it still might get through, but it’s symptoms are going to be much less. What that also means is the symptoms are going to be less for the un-targeted strain, too, just not as much. But hey, it’s better than nothing.

Look at it this way: What person in their right mind when confronted with “If you do get this virus, this shot will most likely make it 97% more palatable, but there is a chance it may only be 12%”? Twelve is still better than zero, and again, it’s not binary. If the woman’s immune system in my OP was just a mere 12% better at fighting the virus, I may have never met her.

That makes sense. Ten years ago I got the flu as well, and I had not gotten a flu shot that season. I was MUCH sicker back then. I remember that it was a full month and a half before I felt really well. This current flu is bad, but far less so than that earlier one.

Sorry for your patient, armedmonkey.

Yup. The last guy I admitted with flu needed supplemental O2 on bipap in the ED. By the next day he was intubated. Then they had to put him on pressors. He didn’t actually code but he spent at least 2 weeks in the hospital. I was talking with the pulmonary attending and he said they’ve seen a lot of bad flu this year. We’re also seeing a metapneumovirus that has previously healthy adults needing supplemental O2

Tell me where to get a flu shot that won’t trigger my allergies and I’m on board, but either I risk flu or risk anaphylaxis. Could we please get more options for flu shots than the standard?

[QUOTE=scootergirl;19227648 Sure, flu shots don’t cover every strand… [/QUOTE]

Sorry, I meant strain, of course.

Flu symptoms are so strange. For me, it has not been a consistent feeling of being terribly sick. The only day that was like that was yesterday. Right now I feel like I could go back to work tomorrow no problem. My body feels like someone beat me with a stick, but my fever broke last night and I feel like I’m on the mend. My guy and others are telling me to stay home another day, at the very least. When do you stop being contagious?

You’re a poster child for the benefits of herd immunity. There are always a few people who are genuinely unable to get any immunization. Everyone else should be immunized not only for their own benefit but also so that people like you are less likely to be exposed to an ill/contagious person.

OK. You are exactly the person that needs this thread.

I’ve already told you the horror story, and that apparently doesn’t work, so I’ll come with this. When was the last time you got it? Honestly? I bet it was years ago. You got stuck in the arm, got a cold, and said “Fuck. I’m not doing that again”

What you need to understand about your allergies is that they are an immunal response. Vaccines are designed to cause an immunal response. They are designed to train your immune system, and sometimes training can be slightly unpleasant. But look up a few posts where I talked about partial immunity. Immunity may be partial, but it lasts. That means you get more and more tolerant to the flu shot every year.

It’s a matter of training your immune system to fight the beasties that could lay you out. It’s a matter of being prepared to fight.

A former coworker passed away in February from complications of pneumonia, which started out as the flu. She was 50.

Two of my great-grandparents died in the 1918-1919 pandemic. It’s the reason my grandmother grew up without her father, and her mother was left an uneducated, non-English-speaking widow to support five girls by herself during the Depression. And I’m asthmatic. I get my flu shot every year.

(Well, I skipped the year they were rationed and I couldn’t get one anywhere no matter how hard I tried. There really ought to be a better system - or, heck, any system at all of getting them to the people who need them most when supplies are short.)

I don’t think I’ve ever had the flu. I rarely even catch cold. Still, I get the flu shot every year. I saw my NP in December and got one then, so I’m covered for this season.

I can sympathize with broomstick Yes, allergies are an immune response, one that is way out of “scale” to the threat for some people. For years I didn’t get flu shots for the same reason broomstick mentioned, anaphylaxis. I have an egg and poultry allergy, been to the hospital a couple of times because someone didn’t tell me all the stuff in the dish they were serving me. I’ve been lucky in that it seems to have mellowed with time to the point that I can now get the flu shot, but only at the hospital with syringe full of steroid on hand just in case (that really shoots the shit out of a day lemme tell ya)

No, I got hives, wheezing, and a fast trip with flashing lights to the ER. I was not exaggerating when I said “anaphylaxis”.

Yes, it was over 30 years ago. When I relate the story, though, no medical professional has ever been willing to give me a standard flu shot. The docs and nurses here are welcome to weigh in with their opinions. Including you. Change your mind, any?

It’s possible that either my immune system has forgotten whatever set it off in the interim, or it’s possible that modern flu shots are sufficiently different so as not to risk killing me rapidly, but would *you *be willing to bet your life on it?