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Swine flu - facing up to the stigma

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 9 Sep 2009, 16:10

Published: 09 Sep 2009 16:10 GMT+02:00

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Hello. My name is Peter and I have had the swine flu.

There, I said it. It is out there - I can't take it back. Now you know. Please read on, but wash your hands first.

After a week holed up at home as the virus spread in a flash around the members of the family, one could not help but be struck with the farcical nature of the situation:

Neighbours gave the kids a wide berth in the yard.

Office colleagues found somewhere else to sit for the week.

I found myself talking in hushed tones last Saturday morning so as not to provoke a Mexican wave of fear among the soccer mums lining the touchline.

As family and friends began calling at regular intervals to check how we were coping and to share our experiences, it gave me cause to reflect that when half the population is down with this thing the tables will turn and the as yet unaffected will be the ones at home in isolation.

A great man once said - "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

These words were said of an altogether more discriminating threat but are no less relevant as we face up to a somewhat extraordinary autumn flu season.

What do we know so far?

The A/H1N1 flu is virulent - the WHO underlined again recently the harrowing speed of its spread.

It has been shown that it can kill - but at a significantly lower rate than the regular seasonal influenzas that we have always accepted as a fact of life.

Still, death is death and no one wants it to happen to them. Statistical probabilities are little comfort for those affected.

After all, a middle-aged man also died after being hit by an elk last week - statistically a far higher risk, and no less of a reality for his family.

So, sure it is a illness, and like all illness preferably avoided - for a while there I felt like I had my own moderately sized elk pressing down on my aching shoulders.

But the most profound feeling I am left with after a week of flu-like symptoms and bouts of "is it, isn't it" uncertainty is that to our acquaintances we have become their "I know someone who has had 'it'" people. That someone that they know who has actually had what we have been reading about since the spring - the new flu.

Them, there, over there...

The health authorities have stopped the blanket testing of patients as its proportions start to become clear. This creates two problems.

Story continues below…

The first is that the stats dry up while the flu continues to spread.

The second is that the stigma afforded by ignorance remains:

"Little Johnny isn't feeling too good and so we have kept him home from daycare this week."

"Oh. Does he have the swine flu?"

"Swine flu? God no, he just has a bit of a cold, a temperature and a few aches and pains."

So my advice is to bite the germicidal bullet, gather your friends, come out of the closet and be proud - at least you know that once bitten, twice protected, statistically at least, that is.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:38 September 11, 2009 by Alannah
I had the swine flu back in August when I was on holiday in Malta. As I had problems breathing, especially at nighttime, and didn't want to contaminate everyone around me, I went and got antibiotics on the first day the flu hit. After 10 days I was fully recovered. The only thing that panicked me was the media hype about it. Hardly anyone dies from it - only people who are already ill with other diseases or young babies. If left untreated, my doctor told me, it could develop into chronic bronchitis, pneumonia or something else .... just like with a common flu.

The pharma companies are making a fortune out of selling this swine flu vaccine, and in Sweden the general public is panicking about it. But the Swedes are also the kind of people who always move seat on the subway if someone so much as sneezes or coughs next to them - this goes for a common flu. They're even more hyped up now about the swine flu! It's fun to tell them that you have had the swine flu and wait for the reaction :-) But overall, getting swine flu is not such a big deal.
07:52 September 12, 2009 by JosefEugen
Is the 12th jante law, "Du skall inte breathe your germs on us"?
18:24 September 12, 2009 by froggeh
Just dont take the vaccine... Far more dangerous. Squalene and mercury into my bloodstream...no thanks.

I don't see any stigma to be honest.. . It's flu, albeit one that for some reason is called swine flu (even though pigs can't catch it), and according to the conspiracy theorists was created by scientists, and released on purpose, after the bird flu release didn't create the hoped for pandemic.

Started in Mexico, coincidentally when Obama was visiting...

Global economic crisis

US drug companies making a fortune

US history of releasing toxins to an unsuspecting general population...

It might be a case of 1+1=3, but certainly worth a thought.
16:48 September 13, 2009 by xykat
Actually, the Swine Flu originally comes from ASIA but somehow got to Mexico where it got worse so Mexico is getting a bum rap.

I had swine flu but none of my family got it from me. Strong people! I got it while travelling to the USA to visit family. When I came back to Sweden I went straight to the hospital. They did nothing for me but gave my sambo some medicine to prevent him from getting it. He never got it either.

One thing that scared me when I had swine flu was the breathing. I had the symptoms of pnemonia. I heard a whistling sound everytime I breathed. The hospital did nothing about these symptoms but I knew I had the start of it but after much rest and staying inside my apartment for 3 weeks not going out at all I got over the pnemonia symptoms and the swine flu. Now I am fine and healthy and figure that I don't have to take the swine flu shot since I have already had it.

I was one of the first 16 to have it in Sweden.

Danderyd Sjukhus was pretty slow at giving me the test results to find out if I even had it. 4 days! They didn't take many precautions. Only one doctor wore protective clothing. I don't think its too much of a big deal. I have had a far worse flu in the past. I would rather have a flu with some discomfort like I had with the swine flu then a flu where I am barfing every 10 minutes (like the last one I had).

I do not think the swine flu was so bad. People should not fear it so much.
22:05 September 13, 2009 by sambhava
Has anyone at all considered the fact that when all those brain-dead zombies in the so-called "healthcare" mafia start pumping the poison vaccines next month into as many children, women and men as they possibly can, that all those equally brain-dead zombies who take them are going to get extremely sick and die as a result...? After all, that IS the idea planned from the very "top" why everyone's really getting them! This has probably not been perceived because the Swedish government (along with just about all the rest of them) has been busy pumping sodium fluoride into all the water supplies and advertising fluoridated products continuously on TV to keep everyone dumbed down enough so that they all go like lambs to the slaughter without smelling a rat! Or is there anyone out there who still thinks that sodium fluoride is "good for the teeth" (when in fact it's quite the opposite!)...? You've all got a few weeks to wake up! And further, once the World Hypocritical Organization (WHO)
22:12 September 13, 2009 by sambhava
22:14 September 13, 2009 by sambhava
is ordered to declare a pandemic 6 later in the Autumn, then things really will start getting rough.
05:25 September 15, 2009 by chris mahon
Hi Peter, sorry to hear you've been unwell but congratulations on what sounds like a full recovery!! After all, how many people could use that kind of wit and dry humour if they were still sick???!! Just to let you know that here in NZ, even though the number of reported swine flu cases have dropped, I don't believe there was the same mass hysteria conjured up my the government and media as there has been in many other countries. Rightly - or wrongly - I think the general Kiwi attitude has been pretty relaxed and accepting. How unfortunate that there are still those out there too short sighted to see the bigger picture!!

We have had news regarding my daughter and I am travelling to Stockholm hopefully to collect her in two weeks time. Will call. Take care and don't forget to wash your hands after reading this!!!!
16:28 September 15, 2009 by Liadora
Lol it's so good to hear someone talking sense about swine flu!

I had it a month or two back and I actually had a woman I know RUN AWAY from me when I said I had just been to have the swabs done. Fortunatly I resisted the urge to be wrapped up in bandages and have my boyfriend walk in front of me rining a bell and shouting "Leper coming!"

It's just a flu, nothing worse, nothing better.

Thanks for the article :)
19:10 September 15, 2009 by maxo
check out Jane Burgermeister. she has some very informed things to say
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