Roy Exum: This Flu Can Kill You

Monday, February 12, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

About this time last week, a second grade teacher at an elementary school in central Texas felt like she was coming down with the flu. Heather Holland, a 38-year-old mother of two, got a prescription but when she arrived at her pharmacy and found out the meds would require a $116 co-pay, she decided instead to “cowboy up” and ride out the storm.

On Sunday morning, an otherwise healthy and vibrant Heather Holland died in an ICU and it is estimated by disease experts that she was one of 3,000 in the country who have been killed by a ferocious strain of the flu virus H3N2. When her husband found out on Thursday Heather had not filled the prescription, he immediately got the drugs, but within 24 hours she was in ICU. It was too late.

In the last 25 years I have learned to live with some individual health challenges and my parade of doctors would disown me if I didn’t take a flu shot and other vaccines that are available. I believe that I have had the flu twice this season and the second I detect the first symptom I go into emergency mode: strong antibiotics, steroid injections and BC powders by the 10-pound sack.

I know that of the 3,000 deaths since October, a full 90 percent of the victims were over the age of 50. I firmly believe I will live for many more years but anyone who thinks they are tougher than germs is nuts. Oh, I hope you are, but if you let a $116 co-pay decide a course of treatment that is stinkin’ thinkin’.

There is a shingles vaccine now available and – to hear folks tell it – you only need it if you had chicken pox as a kid. Others claim it is only effective about 60 percent of the time. I don’t know if I had chicken pox as a child and I’ll happily volunteer to be in the half where the vaccine works. Are you kidding me? Use any excuse you want not to take it but only if you take it will you know if it works.

Everybody my age needs the pneumonia vaccine. I had pneumonia once and I’ll do anything from getting it again. But I have a great friend who boasts he’s never taken any kind of vaccine and while I admire his bravery, I’m still turning my headlights on in the fog. I have yet to see some chum walking down the street wearing a medal that proclaims he didn’t take the flu shot and didn’t get the flu.

What is horrifying is the fact that last week the flu pandemic was worse than the week before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have no idea when this year’s season will end, but the virus is at a gallop that will break health records. With the exception of Hawaii and Oregon, every state in America has wide-spread illness and the hospitalization rate is 59.9 per 1000,000.

That means seven percent of the United States is wrestling with flu in some way. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert for the National Institutes of Health, told CBS you never know how bad the flu is until you can study the data at the end. “But if you put flu cases into different buckets, this season is very very serious in comparison.”

What is most uncanny is that what might be a mild case for one person can be lethal to another. Flu weakens the body and limits the lungs. If an infection occurs or pneumonia develops life-threatening symptoms can spread like wild fire.

In Thousand Oaks, Calif., Gabriella Chabot thought she had a cold but on Thursday her father posted on her Facebook page, “Today I experienced what no parent should … I lost my daughter …. An angel …. who would have been 15 on Feb. 16. California has had 74 flu deaths compared to 14 the same time last year.”

Medical professionals are advising patients to force fluids because flu victims are usually dehydrated. Due to a shortage of IV fluids (the industry in Puerto Rico was horribly crippled by hurricanes in 2017), many hospitals are urging patients to drink Gatorade.

Schools around the country are being closed for several days at a time to retard the spread of the virus and, while it is estimated a flu vaccine takes about two weeks before it is effective, hospitals around the country are still giving flu shots.

Last Monday in Little Rock the Arkansas Children’s Hospital saw 324 cases in its emergency room. Last year the hospital treated 3,000 cases of the flu but already this year there have been over 8,000 cases reported.

One doctor in Little Rock is treating as many cases as possible over the telephone as a way to stop the virus.  Dr. Jay Douglas Holland is taking a different approach in dealing with the spike in flu cases in an effort to halt exposure. "I go through a pretty thorough history about fever, body ache and sore throat," he told CBS News. "If someone has all of those, I feel comfortable treating them over the phone and we are not charging for that."

But then the key is taking the medicine. Don’t let a $116 co-pay get in the way of your life.

royexum@aol.com



Commissioner Mackey Thanks The Voters

I am writing to thank the voters who have re-elected me to represented them on the Hamilton County Commission. I am especially humbled at the high level of trust that was given to me. In the primary I received 72o percent of the vote. In the general election conducted last week an amazing 83 percent of the voters supported me. Again I must say that I am humbled and I say ... (click for more)

The Sad Condition Of Historic Brown's Ferry Tavern

It is embarrassing and saddening how the historic Brown's Ferry Tavern looks right now. It is disgusting.    Whoever the new owner is has left this amazing piece of our local history to rot. Pieces are falling off the roof and chimney. The grounds: grass, bushes, trees are so overgrown and out-of-control that it is disgraceful.   Private property ... (click for more)

Trustee Hullander Says Airbnb Will Remit Hotel/Motel Tax Directly To His Office; It Has 600 Local Hosts With $7 Million Annual Income

Trustee Bill Hullander said Wednesday that Airbnb has agreed to directly remit hotel/motel tax for its 600 hosts in Hamilton County to his office. Mr. Hullander said prior to the agreement that his office had difficulty locating those renting out rooms or homes and had just 90 on the books. The agreement is slated to boost the current hotel/motel income from $85,000 to $560,000. ... (click for more)

County Attorney Says All Votes Were Counted In Recent Election Snafu, And None Affected Outcomes Of Races

County Attorney Rheubin Taylor, who is also the lawyer for the Election Commission, said all ballots were counted despite a recent election snafu. He said the affected voters did not affect the outcome of any election. Election officials said they learned just prior to the Aug. 2 election that there was a problem with  some district lines being improperly drawn several ... (click for more)

Volleyball Roundup: Red Bank Falls To Notre Dame, 3-0

Notre Dame beat Red Bank, 3-0, Wednesday in high school volleyball action with set scores of 25-17, 25-18 and 25-16. The Lady Lions (1-2) opened the season with a win against Grundy County and followed with a loss to Ooltewah before dropping Wednesday’s match to the Lady Irish. On Tuesday, Cleveland defeated rival Bradley Central 3-0 to open the Lady Raiders’ 2018 season. ... (click for more)

CCS, Red Bank, Ooltewah Volleyball Winners Tuesday

Chattanooga Christian, Red Bank and Ooltewah all won volleyball matches Tuesday with CCS improving to 2-0 with the 3-1 district win over Grace. Soddy Daisy defeated Hixson by a 3-1 final while Lookout Valley split a pair of matches, the Lady Yellow Jackets losing to Gordon Lee before defeating Ringgold. Soddy Daisy prevailed by scores of 25-10, 19-25, 25-8 and 25-21.  ... (click for more)