Homeland Obscurity

H1N1 & Healthcare in Sweden

Before I dive into my next topic, I would like to stop and thank all of you for reading my previous blog, I’m A Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing. To be completely  honest, I didn’t expect to get very much, if any, feedback on it. Imagine my surprise when I recieved over 53 comments on the blog, 8 friend requests on Facebook, 2 follower requests on Twitter, and several emails from readers with more helpful tips or questions about my life in Sweden. I’ve been fascinated by your stories, often checking my blog several times a day just to re-read them. So, again, thank you all so much!

My health, since arriving in Sweden, has been extremely poor. Like, my immune system is completely shot. In the almost six months since I’ve been here, I have caught five seperate head colds, courtesy of my beautiful, 1½ year old niece, and her little friends at daycare. This has really caught me off guard, because I never used to get sick very often. I think, in my lifetime, I caught the flu twice, had tonsilitis once, and a very strange, fluke case of scarlet fever when I was fifteen. Other than that, I would catch maybe one cold in the beginning of the winter time, and that would be that. Not the case anymore! The theory behind this madness is that, since I am not accustomed to the same “bugs” in Sweden as the natives, I am more vulnerable to get sick. Thankfully, I haven’t gotten anything more serious. However, as Swine Flu (H1N1) seems to be everyone’s main concern these days, this is where my story leads me…

I’d like to point out before I go any further that I did not want the Swine Flu vaccine. I have several reservations against it, but yesterday I went and got myself vaccinated anyway.

Why didn’t I want the vaccine? To be honest, I don’t trust it. No, I am not a conspiracy theorist who believes that the government is really injecting GPS tracking devices into our blood stream, and using the flu as a cover-up. Nor do I believe it’s a devious plot constructed by the pharmaceutical industry just to make money off of a scared public. I don’t trust it because modern medical achievements are paved with trial and error. Top research teams from around the world have been working round the clock for the last year preparing this vaccine, so that when flu season came around this time, we would be better prepared to protect our people. I have nothing against that. They have done everything in their power to ensure that this vaccine is as safe as possible, given the time frame they had to work with. But that’s just it: the time frame! We’ve only had a year to test the vaccine. This is a brand new drug, with serious side effects, and we don’t know what the long term effects on our bodies will be.

I’ve heard the arguments out of my brother, my teacher, a few of my classmates: But Cortney, you can’t catch Swine Flu! What about your niece, you have a baby in the house! Do you want her to get sick?

First of all, the vaccine is a live, although weakened, version of the actual Swine Flu virus. And with my immune system the way it is? I’m going to get sick one way or the other, whether it be from the actual Swine Flu, or just the vaccine. Second of all, let’s say I did get vaccinated for the sake of my niece, trying to save her from catching the dreaded H1N1. Sure, I won’t get the full blown virus, and bring it home to her. But with how persistent and clingy germs are, isn’t there still a very good chance that I could bring the germs home with me (from school, or some other public place), causing her to catch it? The fact that she goes to daycare three days a week, with other small children who have weak immune systems… Surely that couldn’t cause her to catch Swine Flu? My point is, my being vaccinated won’t guarantee that she is safe. It could help prevent it, yes, but it’s not a bullet proof plan, so stop making it out to be one. She’s as much at risk as I am.

To be honest, I also believe that the media has blown this Swine Flu “epidemic” thing way out of proportion. According to the CDC, the American Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 220,000 americans are hospitalized every year with seasonal flu. Out of those 220,000 people, 36,000 die. The CDC estimates that between April and October of 2009, somewhere between 63,000 – 153,000 americans were hospitalized with Swine Flu related symptoms. The death rate, among these sometimes uncomfirmed cases? 2,500 – 6,000 deaths.

(My references on seasonal flu http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/disease.htm and Swine Flu http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/estimates_2009_h1n1.htm courtesy of the CDC)

Yes, while those are just the statistics in America, and every country is different, the point I am trying to make is this – When the media does nothing but talk about how many cases there are, or how many have died, of course it’s going to seem like a big, bad, scary epidemic. You know what I view as an epidemic? AIDS. To quote a good friend of mine, “Millions upon millions of people have AIDs, and you still have idiots who don’t wear condoms. A little over a hundred thousand people catch Swine Flu, and all of a sudden everyone wants a vaccination.”

So, now that I’ve gone on my politcal rant about H1N1, you’re probably wondering why I got the vaccination, and why my steadfast, stubborn beliefs didn’t stop me. Well, two reasons. My niece was one of them, yes. In the end, I wanted to be one less possible route of infection for her. But don’t call me selfless just yet. My other reason is purely selfish. There’s been a lot of talk recently about international travel being affected by H1N1, and to be frank, I don’t want to take any risks when it comes to going back to America this summer, and seeing my family & friends. That all being said, I braced and prepared myself for the inevitable. I knew I was going to get sick.

Around 3:15 yesterday, I got the vaccination. My nurses were wonderful, and very friendly. One noticed my person number and remarked “Wait, you said you were an American! But it says here you were born in Stockholm! How could this be?” I smiled, laughed, and said it was a long, long story. (Also gave her the link to my blog, so, if she’s reading, thank you for being so good to me!) The wait was not near as long as I had expected, I was in and out in five minutes. I didn’t feel the shot, though one of my girlfriends from Uganda experienced some discomfort when recieving hers. I felt fine… for the first ten minutes. Then my shoulder, neck, and other muscles near my clavicle really started to sting & ache. Within an hour, I had a horrible headache, and was beginning to feel incredibly sleepy. I actually started nodding off at the train station, while waiting for my train! Needless to say, I got some funny looks from people when I kept bobbing up and down, half awake, half asleep. Thankfully, I had another friend to keep me company (this time a boy from Iraq who was in SFI a few years ago) on the train ride home, so I didn’t fall asleep again and miss my stop. After I got home, I started to feel a little better. I ate some delicious spaghetti with garlic bread, and sat down on the couch to watch “My Place at Half Past Seven” (translated name) with my sister-in-law. It was as if I blinked, and all of a sudden, I was out cold. I woke up on the couch two hours later. My brother was now home, which was a new development. I blinked again, and a half hour passed. I was now covered with a blanket, and someone had just tossed a bar of chocolate into my lap. Turns out my brother’s friend had come by, and they had almost finished watching a movie. I sat up, and tried to drink a little water to keep myself up. My arm was killing me, my headache still hadn’t gone away, and I now had a case of the chills. I didn’t go to bed for another few hours, but none of my symptoms had changed by the time I went to sleep for the night.

This morning, I woke up and found a lump on my arm near the injection site. They told me to expect my arm to swell, but they didn’t say I’d have a ping-pong ball under my skin! It’s been really uncomfortable maneuvering with my arm being almost completely useless, for the time being, but I’m managing. The headache hasn’t changed, but my chills aren’t as bad as they were last night. I’m sorry to say that I had to miss class today, but I literally couldn’t get off the couch this morning, I felt so weak. I called my teacher, and she said that she understood. Turns out my girlfriend from Uganda was also experiencing some problems, as was my friend from Iraq, though he had managed to make it to school later in the day.

All of the symptoms I’m experiencing are trademark vaccine side-effects. I have no reason to be worried, unless my symptoms persist for longer than a week, or if they escalate to an unbearable level. The sad thing is that my six year old nephew got the vaccine the day before I did, and he’s been completely fine. Not even swelling! Lucky native Swedes and their immune systems… *;)

Looking back through this article, I realize how negative I am sounding today. That could just be the headache making it’s presence known.. But regardless, I want to end this blog on a positive note.

The healthcare system in Sweden, though it may have some flaws (as every system does), is wonderful. Like, I can not tell you how much it has done for my family and I. Some are the smaller things, like free vaccinations. In America, it costs the public ten dollars per dose for the H1N1 vaccine. Sure, that may not seem like a lot of money right now, but it sometimes takes two doses to gain full protection against Swine Flu. So that’s now twenty dollars per person. Now imagine that you are a family of three adults, and three small children, as it is with my current living situation. That’s 120 dollars, per family. With the economy still very sluggish, that is a big chunk of change.

But one of my favorite examples of how amazing the Swedish healthcare system is? My younger nephew, the six year old I mentioned before, was born with a condition called Gastroschisis, where a baby is born with all of its organs outside of its body. He literally had an empty chest cavity, but all of his organs were in tact. He was only hours old when he had surgery to place all of his organs back inside of his body, an incredibly risky procedure. We were fortunate, not only that the surgery went along smoothly with no complications, but also that he had been born here in Sweden. The hospital only charged my brother and sister-in-law for the cot my brother slept on during the nights in the hospital. The rest of the medical costs were covered by the Swedish government/healthcare system. In America, the surgery for my nephew alone would have cost well over 1 million dollars, leaving my brother and sister-in-law at the mercy of the ruthless insurance companies, and in debt for maybe the rest of their lives. My nephew is now a perfectly healthy, vibrant little boy, and according to my sister-in-law, she can’t even remember the last time the kid got sick! That, to me, is a success story.

And so, my dear readers, I am off to go get some more sleep, and maybe a little bite to eat. Gotta keep my strength up! Hope you all have a wonderful day.

(Note: I am not a medical professional. I do not claim to have extensive knowledge about the medical field. The opinions I have expressed in this blog are based upon research I have done myself, but I am in no way suggesting you avoid recieving the vaccine if you feel so inclined. It’s your choice.)

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43 responses to “H1N1 & Healthcare in Sweden”

  1. Zack says:

    Hi Cortney,

    Another well written article. You have a talent.

    Have you thought about your career and study path? Surely something involving writing!


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  2. Vladimir says:

    Dear Courtney: When a Nanny State take over the country then demographics deteriorates right away and the society goes extinct. This is the case in Europe: 1.38 children per woman (even including the Muslims). In the US where people still have some freedom to make decisions for themselves rather than socialist government making surrogate decisions for everybody. What’s the point of praising the egalitarian leftist society if the Nanny state kill off the country?
    There 2 choices: 1) Free society based on free market with innate inequality that allows society to prosper and survive; 2) Government controlled egalitarian society with limited individual liberties that inevitably results in the extinction. I am against the dead end of civilization-soft tyranny of the Nanny State that kills the whole Europe; I am for the A.Smith and R.Reagan-style free market, individual liberties and personal responsibilities and survival of the society. Unfortunately, the Red President now ruins America as we speak and it also may follow the suicidal path of Europe.

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  3. Vladimir says:

    Sorry, my mistake-Omitted “In the US there are 2.2 children per woman which is survivable. Total government control in Japan kills the country too (1.3 children per woman), so it’s not just a pure European phenomenon. One must choose between survival with freedom, prosperity and inequality (you get what you earned) and collapse of civilization for the sake of pseudo-equality (you get what your government decides to redistribute to you). European way is a slow and sweet suicide: in mere 2 generations there will be no Europe, only Eurostan, and the relatively egalitarian society will be ended in the blood bath.

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  4. Cortney Elin says:

    Vladimir, you can take your anti-communist and anti-socialist statistics elsewhere. I grew up surrounded by republican conservatives who were fans of Reagan Economics and “free society”. I know what you are saying, and what you are getting at, but I’m not about to go arguing my political beliefs today. I will write a blog about that on another occasion, and you are more than welcome to try and argue me then.

    My only response to what you’ve said?

    In Europe there is 1.38 children for every woman, huh? Well, this “Nanny State” government ensured that my brother and sister-in-law would have 4 children, and not be left with only 3.

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  5. Vladimir says:

    As you wish, Cortney.
    However, your brother’s family doesn’t affect much the whole Europe’s birth rate and it does go extinct before our eyes.
    Daily swimming pool might boost your immunity (no garantees though)
    All the best

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  6. Vladimir says:

    Corrections, sorry: “Desire..Bad debts, of course.

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  7. A. Shiraz says:

    May I propose a hypothesis for your miseries?
    I read of a an English girl who grew up in Hong Kong as quite a novelty and was utterly spoiled as a result. She was spoiled because she was rather adored as she was the only white girl around for miles (thousands of miles). When she came to England she was just one of the girls who had been an expat in HK. Needless to say she had to eat the humble pie for a few years.
    In the US with our ahem “diversity” it is hard to see attractive people. There are entire cities where white people such as yourself are minorities. When other pretty white folk run into someone from Sweden they are immediately reminded of heaven and hence their keen interest in you. In Sweden you are in heaven amongst the angels. You may be considered attractive in some of the diverse parts of the US or even intriguing or perhaps offer a ray of hope as someone from Stockholm to some people of the US (as in the South most likely). In my humble opinion you are very attractive in my eyes. If you went to the Congol you would be worshipped as a goddess but would it be worth it? Try to be as Swedish as you can be: become one of the angels and embrace every hardship that comes your way knowing that it will payoff in a decade maybe longer (or atleast with your children). Either that or wait for breakthroughs in genetics. I could be wrong but that is my observation. It will make you a good, grounded, humble, kind and gentle human being, guarenteed. There is nothing in this world like the swedish model of governance or society. May the entire world be like Sweden in beauty interior and exterior.

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  8. Ira says:


    I read your article and it is really good.

    However you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to be worried about your safety and well being in today’s society. There is enough evidence to give us plenty of reason to be worried about our well being.

    One of the reasons why your immune system is starting to fell you in Sweden is because you and many others including myself are now eating food with harmful pesticides and that have no health benefits.

    I found out about a group of food terrorist by the name of Codex Alimentarius. They have a CONTACT in (Livsmedelsverket) I was shocked when I found out… We don’t know the half of it! Hows that for conspiracy? Check them out on Youtube and you will understand why I call them food terrorist.

    The swineflu is nothing compared to what is really going on…


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  9. HairySwede says:

    Well written, although I don’t understand the media hype argument.

    Imagine that this is in fact a horrible pandemic that could potentially wipe out civilization. How do you find out about it? The media. The newspapers. The internet. TV. They are doing what they are supposed to do. Reporting to the public.

    Because all of them are reporting on the same topic does not mean it is some sort of media hype, it means that the public is interested in what is being reported.

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  10. Cortney Elin says:

    My point about the media blowing it out of proportion has to do with the numbers I presented. They are making swine flu out to be this crazy epidemic when in fact more people are infected and die of seasonal flu every year. While I agree that it is the media’s job to report the facts, it is all too easy for them to skew the tone of the message to either be reassuring, or to provoke panic.

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  11. HairySwede says:

    and thats fair enough, although the statistics from the CDC for H1N1 are before the flu season even started. the normal flu season is from november to march. those statistics are from april to october and already 153000 were hospitalized with H1N1 which would suggest why the media is reporting so much on the virus. 153,000 hospitalized people before the flu season starts is abnormal and definitely newsworthy.

    while there are plenty of reasons to not want to take a vaccine, because the media is reporting on it a lot should not be one of them.

    but anyway, that’s not really the point of what you wrote.

    in terms of being sick… I say blame your cousins. kids manage to drag home all kinds of weird diseases, especially at this time of year.

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  12. gotty says:

    Great article !
    Your head is screwed on, and thanks for being a tester for the vaccine for us, seems like you had a bumpy ride. You are in fact correct the swine flu thing is mostly a hoax and did you know the vaccine for flu is somewhere between useless and marginal in effect, nobody is actually sure if flu vaccine works to provide any protection, the theory says yes the practice says NO or maybe perhaps!
    now the mass media is is engaged in a deliberate fear campaigns these days so my advice is take every thing with a grain (or two) of salt, don’t believe everything that is forced down your throat, that is Why God gave you a brain.

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  13. Streja says:

    The weird thing with the swine ful is that people who normally don’t die from seasonal flu have died this time, and younger people….plus pregnant women are at risk, so in that way it’s scarier.

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  14. CowboyDan says:

    Enjoyed your article again Cortney! Unfortunatley, now that your “honeymoon” period appears to be over, I think you will find comments to be increasingly hostile and negative. I just hope you aren’t discouraged, and that you do your best to stay positive and try to read between the lines. I feel that quite often, some of the points made in these comments are very wise indeed, and might outline sides of an issue that you might not have considered. Conversely, I think you will find (or have found) that many comments will be ridiculous.

    Vladimir. If you wish to be taken seriously, you might want to limit your comments to the article at hand. Using someone’s blog to babble your personal political diatribe only makes you appear insincere and silly. After all, the point of Cortney’s article is not the decline of Western civilization, right?

    A. Shiraz. Are you for real? Are you aware of how incredibly racist your comments are? Do you truly believe that only “pretty white people” can be physically attractive? Are you seriously arguing for eugenics? Is your real name “Adolf Shiraz? Lol.

    Keep up the good work Cortney, and I hope you get well soon…

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  15. Daddy says:

    Some of the replys to your thoughts regarding the Swedish Healt Care System tells me they really don’t know the cost situation over here in the US.
    A Swede moving here would never be able to cover the cost of insurance if you have a situation of not having your employer pay for insurance.
    Vladimir: The cost for me (Cortneys Dad, her Stepmother and her sister) is $1,700 per month…!!! Thats 11,900 Kronor per month… We are self emplyed and have to pay everything.
    This is one of the reasons 40 million Americans are without health incurance.
    I was raised in Sweden with a total government run system, now it is getting to be very good as they now allow private to compete with the state run hospitals..

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  16. Monica says:

    Well Cortney another interesting article. I had the vaccine here in the States and I did not have any problems or side effects. Good luck and continue writing it seems to be your knack. Your article’s are well written very entertaining.

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  17. ellenanyag says:

    Sorry, but you and your visitors who commented here are even more so naive that i am little disappointed here in Hungary, looking up at sweden, but you know…

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  18. Youknowwho says:

    >Vladamir Off topic/Troll
    >A. Shiraz Your website is private, why list it? Also Off topic

    Cortney, glad your niece didn’t get any bad reactions to the vaccine. Get well soon.

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  19. Tee says:


    Can you imagine your life in Sweden if you were nt “Swedish/American”…can you really?

    You are smart to play your ancestry to your advantage, in the end it will determine how much you fall in love/hate with your reclaimed ‘Motherland’.

    Your experiences as a non Swedish speaking immigrant I could relate with. I even thought you might see the failings in some social aspects of Swedish society as you said in your last communication.
    Because of your international exposure; I expected you to be able to note some quirky issues about life IN Sweden…(please note i refer to LIVING in Sweden and not about being a Swede because Swedes are perfectly ok but are socially NOT perfect…by a long shot)

    Instead day 2 or whatever it is, you are “wallowing with the pigs” so to speak.
    Honest question to you?
    ….was the shock of how you were treated as an “immigrant” enough to steer you into clarifying that you are actually “one of them” (Swede)?…at almost every given opportunity now?

    I am guessing life certainly becomes easier…?

    Now imagine at those same “given opportunities” (at ICA, vårdcentralen, post office etc ) not having the advatages of your skin colour (sorry – color) or brush of Swedish appearance,name or birth claim….?

    Often, no matter how substantial the reasons for being in Sweden; for non Swedes. Not having the prerequisites of felfri Svenska or a Swedish appearance or a “Svensson” type name can make Sweden a very different place.(Like you so very well put it in your earlier blog).
    It can be a society typically where people tend to be looking over the barriers of LANGUAGE, SCANDINAVIAN-ness, and FACIAL APPEARANCE for social acceptance be it in school, work or play as you experienced.

    Now of course I understand you can not write this blog from the point of view of an African American living in Smålland. Nor am I having a go at your heritage. BUT this new article is a little disappointing.

    I am glad the nurse treated you with humility when she either SAW YOU or noted YOUR ANCESTRY.
    You mentioned your party last time, do you really think Swedes would have thrown you a birthday party, I mean HONESTLY…HELL NO!
    You were almost in tears by your own words for lack of social contact and who were the people that rallied around you to make you feel “at home” Swedes?

    Your earlier reporting of how you are being treated by your own kind was mind blowing. I thought it was intriguing study into social aspects of Swedishness.

    This new article is a mish mash of no depth SORRY.

    All the best with your own integration.
    God forbid you dont become one of those “immigrants” (Europeanovich type names for example) who because they look the part, speak the speak and have a job now; go about giving newer immigrants a hard time at Arbetsfmdln./ Migrationsvkt. /Försakrskssn. The know who they are……

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  20. Cortney Elin says:

    And CowboyDan, I am starting to see how aggressive some readers are going to be. Thank you for warning me. I’m not going to let it dampen my spirits. *:) Even if just two or three people are enjoying my blog, that makes it all worth it.

    Will be writing a new blog before the weekend is out. *;) Have a great day.

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  21. Cortney Elin says:


    You are the first person who has ever told me that I look Swedish!

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  22. CowboyDan says:

    “You are the first person who has ever told me that I look Swedish!” Hahaha! It’s great to see you haven’t lost your sense of humor Cortney!

    Tee. Instead of seeking to become Editor in Chief of your “Homeland Obscurity,” maybe you should consider creating your own blog? “Wallowing with Pigs” Tee? Wake up sunshine! I’m fairly certain Cortney is on your side! Seriously, your comments are more racist than A. Shiraz’s! Maybe if you worked on your own lousy attitude and preconceived notions about people, you might have a much easier time in Sweden (or anywhere else).

    Just sayin’…

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  23. Ann S says:

    Hi there–Just thought I could give some insight as I have been in Sweden numerous times. My husband is Swedish so we go every few years and I have been there for weeks at a time in almost all seasons. I was also one of those people who rarely got sick–until I had kids. Then I just got everything for the first several years that I had small kids. My son would get a sniffle and it would be some deadly virus for me that would keep me in bed for a week. I really think that your issue is being around a small child and picking up things that way. I have actually never gotten sick while in Sweden and I have visited many times for several weeks at a time. I would say, let this just prepare you for having kids someday–that’s what it’s like. Also, as for the h1n1 vaccine, I’m waiting for the injectible version as it’s not the live virus. Supposed to be a little less likely to cause symptoms, but I guess it’s too late for you! Well, sounds like you survived! Good luck!

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  24. Tee says:

    Woww Cowboy…I seem to have rattled your protective nerve. Brother or boyfriend I’m guessing?
    Nahh man. “Editor in Chief”…me?lol you kidding with such poor choice of words as “wallowing with pigs” etc …sorry Cortney, a more subtle expression …”jump into bed.”..nah “if you cant beat them join them” perhaps would have been better ?? ..but you get my drift.
    And by the way, if you look like your blog picture Cortney, then YEAH…you would pass for Swedish. Compliment or not to you? I meant it as a compliment. Have you not heard what they say about Swedish chics…duh. I meant no MEANNESS at all. Just a polite observation in that too.
    You look more Swedish than Melissa Kaporadakis for example she is like 2nd or 3rd generation Swedish but her Mediterranean features distinguish her from classic ‘scandanavian’ features…if you know what I mean. Wont dwell on the point but hope you understand me better what I mean about your ‘Swedish’ appearance now?
    IAF …Oneday you WILL understand what I mean of how ‘it will buy you time’ either:
    -looking, -speaking -sounding -acting -whatever?
    But whatever you can bring to the table to make you more “acceptable” will help you in the long run to blend into Swedish life. My point on that one being you have already got a head start on account of your blood (+appearance?). It’s a no brainer that you embrace aspects of your make up, to help you get by.
    It will buy you just enough time to AT LEAST explain that you DONT eat little children when you approach new people in Sweden. If you can at least make them aware you are “one of them” that just needs time to learn the lingo, can get them to lower their guard for you to feel a touch of Swedish warmth as you recently experienced. “Ishmael Abdul” would conjure hostility and defensiveness from the onset of a similar approach to Swedes as yourself (not your fault but FACT). If you have spent the time you say you have…then you KNOW EXACTLY what I mean Cortney. For “Ishmael” his approach would not get any better either ie no stories of past connections to Sweden, just some stuff about dodging war in mountains or something should really have Swedes climbing the walls to be his friend. NOT. You kinda acknowledged the point it in your opening communication so I wont labour that point excessively either.
    I’m NOT racist or my kids are in trouble…we dont dont know what race to call them!!?..isnt that totally cool?
    As a reader you had captivated me with you article on your ‘Swedish For Idiots’. Best one of the 2 by a zillion miles!

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  25. Paul says:

    Cortney Elin says – “My point about the media blowing it out of proportion has to do with the numbers I presented. They are making swine flu out to be this crazy epidemic when in fact more people are infected and die of seasonal flu every year.” Yup!

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  26. CowboyDan says:

    No Tee, you are completely off base (again). While I respect Cortney’s writing style and ability, I don’t know her or claim to speak on her behalf. I simply felt your original comment was extraordinarily out of line. You obviously have been hurt by people in Sweden, but I truly feel if you focused less on the physical characteristics of people (Swedes or otherwise) and more on just being yourself, you might be a lot happier, wherever you are.

    There are good and bad people everywhere Tee, and just because someone looks “Swedish,” it doesn’t automatically make them a bad person (or a racist). Incidentally Tee, racist views are not solely confined to white people, and you might want to go back and review your prior comments and give some thought to your own preconceived notions regarding skin color. Just a suggestion. Even in your latest comment, you continue to focus on the “appearance” of people who are different than yourself. Don’t you agree that personal traits such as personality and character are infinitely more important than one’s physical appearance? I mean, does your skin color completely define who you are?

    What I would really like to know is did you contract the H1N1 flu this season Tee? And if so, do you believe you got sick because of a flu shot? ;o)

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  27. animalr says:

    the good news is that if you showed side affects to the vaccine it actually means you have a strong immune system. not to say no side effects = bad immune system, but it is actually a sign of a healthy responsive immune system if you show host reaciton after exposure :o)

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  28. wabasha says:

    nice stuff, im still reading. I rarely go to stockholm, being more into nature than nightlife. however i did party a good bit when i first got here and before meeting my älskare.. so go out and have fun this weekend!, and tell us all about it. oh and yeah you throw yourself a birthday party here(wierd), I’ve been to loads of them. and glögg mingles, and baptisms and happy hours and coutless other reasons to get together… im interested in your (somewhat) first impression of the swedish social sceen.

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  29. Duncan says:

    hej cortney, hur ar det? haha, it’s been a while since i’ve written or spoken svenska so everything i know is now probably forgotten…

    anyway, before i left canada to go to lulea to the north of you, i got a flu shot for the very first time because i thought it would be freezing cold being an hour and a half from the arctic circle. (turns out it’s colder in my home town than it was up there!)

    the flu shot didn’t help because, like you, i became very sick within the first month of my being there. the same thing happened to me when i moved to south korea last november.

    our bodies have, in my opinion (and i’m not a doctor – just a world traveler), immune systems built to fight germs and diseases that occur naturally in our geographic areas.

    now my history is off but i seem to recall the native indians in north america being wiped out because of smallpox that were transported from europe. that’s an extreme example but i think you get what i’m trying to say.

    the one thing i was going to start off saying which sort of coincides with your last post about trying to fit in with the swedes etc, was that getting sick constantly like you said you do could, in fact, be stress related.

    it seems like you have a lot on your plate and that can affect your optimism which i believe is the key to fighting off colds. i think being more pessimistic/stressed out increases your odds of getting sick than being optimistic/happy.

    again, these are just random statements by me which probably sounds more like a horoscope than actual fact! hahaha

    keep your neck covered and stay positive and you’re health will eventually turn for the better. (Dr.) Duncan’s orders 😉 haha

    as for the other stuff everyone else has written on here, good luck with that.
    i hope you start to feel better from the shot. i haven’t got it nor do i think i will.

    hej da!

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  30. Tee says:

    Like I said before captivated by her 1st post because it struck a chord with me. REALLY GOOD opening article.

    I been apologetic enough to Cortney. Bad day at the office… I guess. Did nt mean to be mean.

    I had had the nurse from “Swedish” hell, who had decided she wasn’t going to help me on appearance alone as I walked into Vårdcentralen for this flaming vax.
    I think, Cortney’s very different vax visit experience, unfortunately, triggered my reaction to her article.

    My kids aren’t white but ARE Swedish. I’m neither. My wife is both…..guess who we needed to put this nurse in her place??…(PS. my wife is a gigantic 53kg and 168cm REAL SCARY or what….NOT)
    I speak well enough (i Svenska) to offer a verbal punch back but over the years, cant be bothered with all the bus drivers and other high professions like “7 Eleven” brainiacs who feel its their duty to give Hell to exotic looking people (non Swedish looking).

    Once upon a time, people needed a letter from “masser” to get goods from the supermarket or similarly be sent back empty handed….I had had that kind of day.

    Armed with a ‘Blondie’ (my wife’s pet name)..the VERY same nurse greeted us at the door on my return and suddenly made out as if it was MY fault I had nt mentioned I have a Swedish wife!!!!!!!? and proceeded to bend over backwards, cart wheels the LOT??

    I hate that about Sweden….and worry about the kids a little.

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  31. kwik kiwi says:

    Courtney you have a great blog. In your last post you talked about employment. Have you considered blogging as a job? There are companies with a vested interest in getting popular blogs to advertise their products. Think about it and look around. The internet is full of ideas.

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  32. Killer says:

    Ja. great blog Cortney, just like your body! Groan! Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh O, Ah, Oh, Ah, Oh, Oh, Jooooooooo!

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  33. Cool Luke says:

    When you get the nurses uniform Cortney – will you let me watch you undress?

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  34. liz erns says:

    Hi Darling,

    It is sure a supprise to you as an American, to me you should be bl to look after each other and it is not very new or a supprise. You pay you get Hig tax but you should know where it is going. I just think it is human nature I am not amazed at all. Anything new in the life today darling????? because that is not new this side……. God bless!!!!!!! we want news not that

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  35. Dr Watson says:

    Unlike so many other of the blogs here at The Local your’s is intelligent, well-researched/fact based, non-speculative, well written, enteratining, witty, relevant, non-stereotyping AND personal.

    Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experience and talent. Keep the spirit, your positivity, curiousity and open mind up!

    Gott Nytt År!

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  36. bira says:

    I like your writing and am myself a native Swede but currently leaving in the US. While I have no complaints about the medical system in Sweden, at least not from my 19 years experience, insinuating that it is cheap is very misleading. Swedes pay some of the highest taxes in the world in order to extend those services to the population. Perhaps things are better, tax wise, these days but when I lived and worked in Sweden (many, many moons ago now) anything over $28,000/year was taxed at an astonishing 80%! So cheap it is not. Convenient? You bet!

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  37. Dr Watson says:

    Wrong bira! It is actually cheap. Especially compared to the US system. Sweden’s total helth care expediture is 9% of GDP while as US dito is 15%.

    And in terms of quality Sweden peforms as good, or better, on all measures/indicators that are typicaly used (by OECD for example) than the US.

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  38. bira says:

    Dr. Watson, expenditure and cost to the people are not one and the same. So Sweden is good at taking your money and not giving you as much for it as they should, another complaint I often hear from my family that still lives there. Just because they only spend 9% of GDP on healthcare doesn’t mean they’re not taking the money from the public in the form of taxes. The surplus is obviously spent elsewhere. It is the entire Swedish system that is expensive, but you’re right, it is expensive elsewhere also, including the US. My personal feeling is that I’d rather keep the tax money and make my own decisions.

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  39. Dr Watson says:

    Hmmm… I think that you might have to read up on macro economic issues and how to read these type of stats because what you say doesnt make sense. The 9% vs 15% is exactly and directly comparable. Thats how much money that is spend in the respective countries, relative to GDP, on healtcare, i.e. the expense/cost, financed publically (through taxes) or privately (typically with insurances).

    In other words the total healthcare bill in the US is about 70% more expensive than in Sweden. Without resulting in a healtier or longer living population. The opposite, as a matter of fact.

    Your preference of keeping the money, not being taxed, and decide yourself if to buy healthcare insurance or not, is off course just a preference, and many people would agree with you on that. And off course it is much nicer to decide yourself how to spend your money.

    But, and here is the crux, there is a cost to that. And that cost is vidly illustrated with just the 9% vs 15% health care cost of Sweden vs. US. In other words, it will cost the citizen of a country 70% more to do it the US way, to not be taxed as high and not have primarily a public healthcare system in the shape and form of Sweden’s dito.

    If you are stinking rich you probably think its ok to pay 70% more for your and your family’s healthcare bill. But for society as a whole it is much more expensive and will cut out, as seen in the US, a large part of the population from access to even basic healtcare, not to mention more advanced/expensive procedures/treatments.

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  40. John Gontier says:

    Hi Cortney,
    I am in Spain and while looking for info. on Swedish football league, European football, I can across your blog. Congratulations, you write so well. The story of your nephew is really touching and made me love you for the love and pain you went through with all that but with a happy ending. Yes, you American do have a bad health system which even in a “poor” country like Spain find it hard to believe. Fight for a change.

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  41. bira says:

    Perhaps you’re right Dr. Watson. However, the real cost of the Swedish system is the wait for routine procedures that you have to endure. My mom, for example, has had to wait for two years to take care of a condition that causes her extreme discomfort. Had she lived here in the US with me, it would have been take n care of immediately. Worse, my uncle who has had 4 or 5 heart attacks calls the hospital complaining about discomfort and they want him to schedule an appointment for the following week! Meanwhile, I who am fairly young and healthy experienced a weird sensation around my heart that lasted about five minutes one morning and after it subsided went to work. My wife, upon finding out, made me go to the doctor that afternoon where I got yelled at for not going directly to the hospital when experiencing the sensation.
    Perhaps healthcare by itself is indeed more expensive in the US, I’ll concede that point; however, based on my own experience growing up there, I am MUCH better of in the US since moving here.

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  42. AndreaGerak says:

    About swine flu, I have to agree with Ira and ellenanyag.

    About health care: sorry, but there is quite some truth in what Vladimir says… I try to keep myself as far from politics as I can. But where you have a government which takes so extra super-duper care of the sick, chances are great that many people will tend to abuse it and “develop” illnesses, just to stay home from work – killing productivity and well being.

    I can see that in certain cases (emergency operations etc) the financial support can even save lives, but hey: free vaccines for a disease which was intentionally developed and marketed? WHO pays for those vaccines? Because the pharmaceutical company’s interest is to make a huge profit on it, so someone must pay. Not the patient but the government? Great. From what money? And so on, and so on.

    As I see the subject in various countries, the term “health care” is wrong. It should be rather called “sick care”…

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  43. bunker says:

    The EU has stated no one can be put in isolation for more than 30 days. Listen Sweden Kumla for years!!

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