Last week two teenage girls from the metroplex, one on the southwest and the other on the northeast, almost diagonally located, died within two days of each other. One was healthy, one had some chronic medical conditions.They both contracted the swine flu. Then within a matter of a few days, both were dead.
The DFW metroplex is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the US. It’s total population has been estimated at between 6.3 and 6.5 million. That’s a lot of children, pregnant women, and adults with chronic medical conditions who need to be concerned. One woman who was in my home last Friday has been ill since Wednesday with it. She attended the wedding of a friend’s daughter on Sunday. The bride’s honeymoon lasted two days before she ended up in the emergency room receiving Tamiflu. My friend said that CVS pharmacy is selling a homeopathic concoction called “Flu Remedy” that she feels helped her. I just talked with her on Friday. She claimed that at least for this moment today she is feeling somewhat human again.
Last spring many of the school districts closed for several days when the flu first hit. It has been decided this term to take each school on a case by case basis. Most children who get the flu are ill for a few days and then recover. Obviously that is not always the case.
As of September 29 over 1600 cases of swine flu have been verified in the Fort Worth area alone. The doctors have been seeing twice the number of patients daily than they usually see during the height of flu season. On the news today the newscasters said that the liquid children’s doses of Tamiflu are in such short supply, the CDC has released 22,000 doses of expired medicine to cover the gap. The medication was tested and found to still be effective so the expiration date was extended. Pharmacies are taking adult dose tablets and diluting them into liquid form for children. Like everywhere else, the vaccine is not yet available, but 600,000 doses are scheduled to arrive in twenty five states, including Texas by next week. The map below was as of June, 2009.
I received my seasonal flu shot about a week ago. A couple of years ago I got the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination. I hope my immune system is strong enough to help me stave off any other flus that come my way.
I feel that I am in a moral dilemma. I am diabetic (fairly well controlled on oral medication) and, although it only flares up occasionally, I am still, after an entire lifetime, prone to asthma atttacks. Both of those are indicators that a swine flu injection should be taken. Death does not scare me. I feel secure in the knowledge that I am a spiritual being in a human form. My spirit will not cease to exist. What does concern me is having to linger for any length of time without being able to breathe. Childhood memories of midnight emergencies suffocating until Dr. Carroll arrived still come to mind very easily.
However, that is where the value of a life, as I see it, enters in. Because swine flu hits children and pregnant women seemingly more easily, should I get in line to receive the vaccine when I am now much older? I have a feeling there are legions of older Americans who are just like me. Will they step aside until more vaccine is available? Or will they push and shove their way into clinics and offices making demands?
When my father died in 1968 at the age of almost 64, that was a very average age of death for a man. Life expectancy for a male born in 1906 was 47. The year I was born average life expectancy was extended twenty more years. That means I still have several more years to go before I am even average. Am I willing to give up what could possibly save my life for a few more years to the mother of an unborn child? Am I willing to say, I’m learning enough life lessons now that, although I feel there is more to learn, I have learned enough to take me into the next life time?
Many times in my life I think I would have welcomed death to the situation I was in. Now, within the past few years, I have reached the place where I am truly enjoying living. There is so much left to see and do. I am very much a fatalist. I have had several opportunities to die, yet the situation has always changed and it hasn’t happened yet. I believe that when someone’s number is up, for whatever reason, that’s it. If I’m meant to move on, I do so willingly. If I’m meant to stay, I also do so willingly. However, I’m not so willing to stay that I take a vaccine that would have saved a child who still has a life to live. I guess I’ll be one of the ones waiting for the mothers and children to go first. My conscience won’t let me live any other way. Maybe there are others my age or older that are willing to think the same way. Maybe somehow during the influenza pandemic of 1918 I was one who was saved by the actions of another. We play with the cards dealt to us. Maybe its my turn at the game. I hope not, but the game ends for everybody at some point. Today is Sunday once again. Time for church. I think I’ll put an added prayer in the prayer box that I don’t have to worry about the swine flu. Namaste Attic Annie