• By Amanda Blackburn.

My experience with the Australian Flu!

On New Year’s Eve whilst playing games with the children, I started to feel a bit dizzy, at first I put it down to the alcohol I was drinking, but I hadn’t had much. I stopped drinking and was too exhausted to stay up until midnight to see the new year through.

The next morning I still felt weak and dizzy but I was having my mum and dad for a special New Year’s dinner. My parents always go to my sisters for Christmas dinner as we don’t eat meat and they all share a turkey. So on New Year’s Day, I always do a three-course meal and like to spoil my parents.

I wasn’t going to cancel so I somehow managed to get through the day. When they left I took myself to bed with some painkillers. I went straight off to sleep but woke a few hours later with terrible pains in every part of my body, I was also sweating. I looked at the time to see if I could take any more painkillers but it had only been a few hours since I had taken some so I couldn’t.

That evening was one of the longest nights I had ever had. I couldn’t sleep because of the excruciating pains that I was having in my head, legs, arms and lower back, I couldn’t get comfortable and I kept going hot then cold. The paracetamol didn’t help at all and I was hallucinating and kept imagining I was being buried alive. It was such a strange feeling, something I’d never felt before, I was willing my body to fight it but too exhausted to do anything to help myself. When my husband woke the next morning, I asked if he would go to the chemist and ask for stronger pain relief.

He brought back Ibuprofen which I immediately took, I was that spaced out I had to write down the times and the amount I took. If I hadn’t done this I think I would have overdosed as the flu virus really had started to mess with my head and that whole day was a blur. I couldn’t walk properly as my ankles and thighs felt like they would rip when I bent them, it was so strange I just had no strength at all.

I couldn’t sleep that day either, the pains were awful, my whole body was throbbing and it felt like somebody was digging a knife into my back. All I could think was, what if the kids get it, how would they cope with the pain? I was so scared for the children and kept away from them. My husband was really worried about me and started to search the internet for answers. He read about the Australian Flu and how it was in our area, how many people had it and advise on how to cope.

Everything I had been doing was correct, it advised against going to the hospital as there was nothing they could do. I was drinking plenty of fluids, controlling my temperature with pain relief and resting, that’s all I could do. Eating was hard work, it actually hurt my jaw and I just didn’t have the energy to chew, I just lived off Ribena as I couldn’t eat. Luckily we were off work until the Thursday so my husband was able to look after the kids. 

The next day I had to stop taking Ibuprofen as they were irritating my stomach and making it burn. My parents brought me some codeine tablets round and I started taking these instead. These tablets gave me some pain relief for a few hours before they started to wear off and I managed a bit of housework and cook a dinner for everyone. My daughter had her friend round and I somehow managed to help them enjoy their day together. I was exhausted after this day though but with the help of the codeine, I slept much better this night. 

The next day my husband helped and worked looking after the child we have one day a week through the school holidays. I slept most of this day and night thanks to the codeine. 

That evening my husband started to feel ill and so did my 7-year-old. My son woke in the night and had a temperature and a very sore throat. My husband had a very bad head and his bones were starting to hurt. I still felt awful, how was I going to look after them when I was ill myself? I somehow managed to get out of bed and get them drinks and pain relief. I now had a list of mine, my son’s and my husband's pain relief with times and dose. My husband couldn’t sleep and had exactly the same symptoms as me. Luckily the pain relief lowered my son’s temperature and he managed to sleep. I had him in bed with me and kept a close eye on all night.

The next day I was feeling a bit better and I managed to help my son and husband. I did a bit too much that morning and by the afternoon I had to go back to bed. My son and husband had slept on and off all morning and couldn’t eat anything. I managed a little bit of mash and vegetables I had with my daughter but it was a force to eat it. Luckily my daughter was ok and old enough to look after herself and helped me by looking after herself whilst we slept that afternoon.

I was really scared for my daughter, she was the only one who had the flu vaccination due to her being at high risk because of her Crohn’s disease. I kept telling myself that she would be alright and if I’m honest was too ill and exhausted to overthink. I have since read that lots of people died with the Australian flu, I’m glad I didn’t know about this at this time.

The next day I woke up feeling a lot better, I felt hungry which was a good sign. My son seemed brighter too and I got up with him and made us breakfast. When we tried to eat it though it was hard work and we only managed half before we both felt sick. My husband got up and was determined to fight this flu, he decided to go to the vegetable shop and make us all a fresh garlic, leek and potato soup to help us all get better. He still felt weak but his headache had gone and his bones weren’t as sore. He was definitely a lot stronger than me as I definitely couldn’t have got in the car that morning and drove to the vegetable shop.

I and my son managed to watch a film that morning and played a few games on his iPad together. My husband made a lovely soup and we all managed to eat a small bowl, before feeling sick. I had a terrible stomach ache afterwards and couldn’t eat anything else that day. My son and husband couldn’t eat anymore that day and we had to go to bed again that afternoon and sleep. Luckily my husband and son wasn’t in too much pain and did manage to sleep most of the time. They were very weak though and kept shivering and complaining about the light. My poor daughter was left all on her own again, I was so sad that our Christmas break together was ruined. That evening she started to feel ill too.

My daughter was very sick that night and I had somehow managed to look after her. I slept in her room with her and made sure she was ok. She complained about her bones hurting and felt dizzy when she sat up. I gave her painkillers and she stopped being sick. That day wasn’t a very nice one for her and she struggled with the pain from the flu. I felt a bit stronger and managed to look after everyone, my husband helped too but he still felt really ill. 

My son was getting there but still needed his daily dose of pain relief to keep the pains away. He wouldn’t eat and had an awful hacking cough. We put Vicks on his chest, back and feet with socks on. I swear by this, it completely stopped his coughing for at least 3 hours until it started to wear off. We kept applying it to his feet smothering his feet in it and putting on socks to help absorb it. It has to be the Vicks brand to work correctly, cheaper brands never have the same effect. He slept most of the day and night again but had a bit more life in him from the day before.

The next day was Monday and my daughter was meant to be back to school. Obviously, she couldn’t go, my son had a teacher training day and we weren’t back at work until the next day. We were all really ill this day and all we all did was sleep. I actually felt worse again this day but slept like a log. I needed to get back to work tomorrow so I took it easy all day. None of us could eat so I didn’t have to get up and do anything.

My daughter also started to get a nasty cough and I helped her through the night by applying the Vicks, making her drink and controlling her pain relief. I slept in her room all night, she was scared as she felt so bad, I was scared for her too. She promised me she didn’t need to go to hospital but I was seriously considering taking her. She didn’t sleep too badly that night though in the end and managed a bit of toast the next morning.

I couldn’t send my son to school the next day, he was a lot better but he still wasn’t eating and was very weak. I managed to get up for work and so did my husband and this was the first day I had actually felt ok. I was so relieved and enjoyed this day so much knowing I was better. My son had a good day and managed to eat something. My daughter had a little bit to eat but wasn’t well at all. I had the strength to look after her and took care of her all day. We were all in bed at 8 that night and we all slept ok.

The next day my son was back at school, he had his first tennis lesson after school and he managed a full day at school and an extra hour after for his tennis. He was knackered when he got home and had his dinner and went to bed at 7. My daughter was hardly eating and was coughing lots. I was very worried but told myself we had all managed to get through it and I knew what she was going through would eventually get easier. I watched over her like a hawk and did all I could to help her. She had it exactly a week and yesterday was the first day she actually felt normal again.

I have managed to get back to my Zumba and yoga classes and feel like my appetite is slowly coming back along with my strength. My daughter has eaten well today and hopefully, we are all over it. I never want it again, it was absolutely awful. I haven’t got a clue where we picked it up from as we didn’t really go anywhere over the Christmas period and no one we know has had it. Lots of people have had colds but nothing like us. It was definitely the Australian flu as all our symptoms were the same, the only difference was the children got coughs with theirs and we didn’t.

I’m grateful that my body was able to fight it off as at one point I honestly didn’t think it would ever go. To anyone else who might be reading this, make sure to rest, take pain relief but keep note of the times and amount, use Vicks if you have a cough or to help clear your head and drink plenty of fluids. If you have it longer than a week and get any chest pains or have difficulty breathing get yourself to the hospital. It can turn into pneumonia so make sure to be safe.

Apparently, there are now other strains of flu also going around, I will be the one you see walking around with a mask over my face! Only joking....but I really hope we never get that awful flu again!


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