An American's H1N1 Swine Flu Experience in London (cont.)

As of press time, England is the only country using the National Pandemic Flu Service that allows patients to have their symptoms and medical history reviewed by a general practitioner over the phone or Internet. If the doctor determines the patient has H1N1 swine flu, he or she may provide the patient with a prescription code to take to the pharmacy for treatment.

Johnson's flatmate couldn't pick up her prescription until after work, so it was Monday evening before she was able to take her first dose of Tamiflu. She received a five-day prescription: two pills, twice a day. It took 40 minutes to get the prescription filled because the pharmacy was so busy.

Monday night, Johnson developed a cough, her sore throat worsened, and her fever would come and go. She awoke around 3 a.m., having difficulty breathing. She called home to her mom for advice, and her mom suggested she drink chamomile tea with honey and lemon. Johnson found this home remedy controlled her cough and sore throat better than the cough syrup she had been taking.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, Johnson noticed her fever was lessening, but her cough and sore throat seemed to be getting worse. She called the general practitioner's office again, and the doctor said not to worry unless she started having new symptoms or extreme difficulty breathing.

By Friday, she was feeling much better with just a little sore throat and cough. Johnson no longer needed the ibuprofen. She continued to stay home and was out of work through Saturday when she completed her prescription.

By the following week, she was back to normal. Upon returning to work, she learned that many of her coworkers had relatives who had contracted H1N1 swine flu, and two of her female coworkers had developed it after she did. She's not overly worried though.

"There's this perception of, Oh, you're going to die if you catch swine flu, and it seems like after my ordeal, it's not as big of a dealThe hysterics surrounding swine flu seem a little bit too much," Johnson said. "It's basically catching the flu."

Jennifer Johnson*, swine flu patient, Orange County, Calif.

* The patient's name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Last Editorial Review: 7/30/2009