Surviving H1N1 Flu
A patient story
Last May, out of nowhere, James Shrode felt feverish and fatigued. “I thought I had the flu and it’d be over in a day or two,” says the 53-year-old Grand Rapids resident.
Soon he was so ill he missed his daughter, Jessica’s, graduation. A few days later his condition had gotten so bad he was admitted to a Grand Rapids hospital with pneumonia. At one point, his wife Mary Shrode explains, five doctors were in his room and they were moving him to the intensive care unit.
“They kept changing my mask, trying to get more oxygen, because they just couldn’t get my oxygen up. One of the last things I remember is the doctor saying is ‘Do you want us to resuscitate you if we need to?’” he recalls.
The father of five was put on a ventilator and, on June 7, flown by Survival Flight to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit in University Hospital, where doctors recognized he was suffering from H1N1 (sometimes called “swine”) flu and started him on antiviral medication.
For two weeks, Shrode was unconscious and on a ventilator until finally his body began to win its fight against the H1N1 virus.
“Seeing my family, my kids, my dad, my sisters standing outside, I was able to give them a thumbs-up. I’m here,” he says.
He was at the Health System for seven weeks and is continuing to recover from the effects of the infection. Dozens of other patients have needed inpatient care at University Hospital and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for H1N1 flu in the past six months – including a number of intensive care patients who have been transferred to U-M from other hospitals.
Now, as the H1N1 pandemic causes another surge of cases in Michigan, Shrode is eager to tell others about the need for vaccination to prevent the potentially fatal infection.
“It’s going to affect every one differently. People need to know that the risks of the vaccine are minimal compared to the risk if you get ill with the virus,” he says.
His wife adds, “He basically knocked on death’s door and he came back.”
Vaccine is currently available to groups of patients and faculty/staff who meet certain criteria. As more vaccine arrives, more groups will be eligible for vaccination at UMHS. Check this site for more information: www.med.umich.edu/flu.
Flu symptoms to watch for:
What to do:
Stay home from work or keep a child with these symptoms home from school or day care.
Written by Shantell Kirkendoll
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