To Jab or Not To Jab….That is The Question

30 Sep
Autumn Colours. Photo credit: Morgue File User Kconnors.

Autumn Colours. Photo credit: Morgue File User Kconnors.

It’s that time of year when the leaves start to turn; there’s a freshness to the air; the sun hangs low in the sky; the orange of pumpkins is popping up every which way….it is Autumn.

This may be hard to believe given the blazing sun and warm (well low 20s, that’s practically tropical for an Indian Summer in England) temperatures we enjoyed last week; but it truly is Autumn.

It is at this point in the year that my thoughts turn to preventative medicine. Mainly preventing and avoiding the winter flu.

Indian Summer sunshine. Photo by Jess B.

Indian Summer sunshine. Photo by Jess B.

The flu and I have a rather chequered history. Both before and after my diagnosis of ME/CFS the flu has been a rather large, ugly and painful thorn in my side.

Let’s be clear here I’m referring to the keep you in bed for a week and more, head pounding, aching and shaking, shivering and sweating, full on flu. I’m not talking about sniffles or even a bad cold and I’m most definitely not talking about man flu…

Back in 2009, when ME/CFS was not part of my vocabulary never mind my daily life, I had two nasty bouts of flu within six months. The first was gastric flu. After a week off, once the gorgeous gastric symptoms had subsided, I decided to return to work. Yes well that was a massive mistake and a story for another post. Suffice it to say I was incredibly lucky that my sister had travelled on my commute with me that morning as I near collapsed at the station and had to be taken home. Six months later saw me become the butt of oink oink piggy jokes at work as I managed to contract swine flu. Queue 3 weeks of hellish flu viral symptoms. Both times post-viral fatigue lingered for weeks as I struggled to return to normal life.

How I feel with the flu! photo credit Morgue Filer User: Pennywise

How I feel with the flu! photo credit Morgue Filer User: Pennywise

Roll on December 2010. Everyone had a bad cold at work. It was a week before Christmas when I caught the bug. But in true Jess style, mine wasn’t ‘just’ a bad cold, mine was full on flu. The works. That was the beginning of the end of normal life for me. Although the viral symptoms passed within about 6 weeks I was left with profound fatigue, severe muscle and joint pain, and an inability to do more than sit upright for 5 minutes. Yes the flu had enabled ME/CFS to well and truly get its claws into me. I am essentially still getting over it. I have not been well since.

April of this year saw me travel to America to visit my sister. A few days after arriving in Philly I came down with, yep you’ve guessed it, the flu. It took me until mid June to feel anywhere close to how I’d been feeling before the April bout of Mr flu.

So yes, the flu seems to like me. Mr B on the other hand has never had the flu properly. He jokes that his immune system is good for both of us. Lucky for him.

Throw into the pot several bad colds, including a recent one in August which took me until earlier this month to really feel I’d cleared completely and you begin to understand why the winter flu season fills me with a little dread.

The last three winters I have spent the months at my Mum and Dad’s up in Lincolnshire. I was there because I was physically too ill to be living with Mr B in our flat in London. I needed my Mum and Dad to look after me. The upshot of these prolonged periods ‘up north’ was that, to a large extent, I was protected from nasty flu bugs doing the rounds. Clean fresh country air and not having contact with more than 5 people a week max meant I survived these winters unscathed by the flu.

Each winter I’ve debated the merits of getting the flu vaccination with my GP and my neurologist. Any vaccination carries a minor risk of contracting the (hoped to be protected against) illness. In chronic illnesses where the immune system is a little (okay a lot) defunct this risk is naturally higher. So for the past few winters my isolation in Lincolnshire has satisfied my doctors as sufficient protection.

Injection time. Photo source: Morgue File User Imelenchon

Injection time. Photo source: Morgue File User Imelenchon

However this year I am in London. I am well enough to be here provided I (massively) limit myself in what I do and take things really steady. I want to be here. Three winters away from my life here is enough. Now I’m that bit stronger it’s time to make ME/CFS work in my life with Mr B here in London. So far, touch wood, it seems to going fairly well. But I am more at risk of catching the flu. Even though I don’t go out very much except for a short walk each day. We live in an apartment complex with 714 flats, that’s a lot of potentially infectious people! Mr B travels on public transport each day and works in a large air-conned office block. Lots of potential for infection there. If he comes home with a bit of a virus or cold, even if we institute the separate bed policy (i.e. he gets relegated to the spare room), I seem primed to catch the little beast (flu or cold not Mr B!). Living in an open plan loft apartment probably doesn’t help on Β this front. And ME/CFS + bit of a cold = horror enough. Add in that my body never seems to do anything by halves. Bit of a cold in Mr B becomes full on spluttering, crying, screaming, raging flu in my poorly ME/CFS body.

So this year I am having the flu vaccination. In fact I am having it today. Eeeeek. I am on strict orders from my specialist to play the invalid for a fortnight after the vaccination to let my body recover so if it is trying to fight any outbreak of flu from the vaccination it has the best chance possible by me not pushing my body, but instead resting on the sofa lots and lots. I’m going to have to fight my natural instinct to get up and do stuff if (praying hard on this) I feel okay.

So please send all your positive, flu fighting vibes and thoughts my way pretty please.

Mr flu vaccination, you are here to protect me not to bring me down, don’t you dare give me the flu. Just do your magic and protect me. I will be eternally grateful if you do.

How do you prevent catching Winter Flu? Do you get vaccinated? How have you found it?Β 

Posts coming soon: how my specialist appointment went on Friday 27th Sept, holiday pics from our mini break to Sussex last week, personality 101: negative thinker, catrostrophiser, how I’ve mellowed: yes I used to be worse! So many posts so little time. But keep your eyes peeled, these posts will be coming to a computer or tablet screen near you soon (subject to the pesky flu keeping its distance).

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30 Responses to “To Jab or Not To Jab….That is The Question”

  1. dawnhosking September 30, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    I don’t normally get the flu jab, up to now I have been fortunate and avoided contracting flu πŸ™‚

  2. Ann September 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Ive had a M.E for a very long time and after getting the flu many years ago I had such a severe relapse that left me in bed permanently for 5 years and very severely affected totally dependant on others. Im now better than that although still house and wheelchair bound so still very limited. Since coming down with the flu that caused such a massive relapse Ive always had the flu jab every year and so far no further flu. I am terrified of the flu and believe had I not caught the flu I would of been a lot better than I am now.

    • myjourneythrume October 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

      Ann, your experience is exactly why I chose to get vaccinated. Whilst my response to flu wasn’t as severe as yours, it was the flu nonetheless that has made me relapse time and time again. Thank you for reading and commenting. Reading your story tells me I am doing the right thing!

  3. currankentucky September 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Best of luck today!! I sat down this time last year and had a chat to myself too over the flu jab! Like you I got swine flu and like you it was a flu thing that led to my ME, of course the pushing to work during the flu thing didnt help matters. There is so much info on the net re it all, to get it, not to get it, pros and cons etc. Between all my reading and thinking I decided not to get it and touch wood avoided flus. I did get a few colds last winter which of course led to crashes but I didnt get the nasty flus. My husband has the immune system of a rock and never gets sick, jibing at my healthy diet and its wonders, while he eats crap and thrives! But I must admit, come winter there is dettol spray hanging off me. If a visitor stops by I scald their mug, i wipe down door handles, press doors, tables, counters, spray our bathroom. The bottle is my only defence. Perhaps if I got the jab I could ease up on my spraying! You gotta do whats best for you!!!

    • myjourneythrume October 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

      Your husband sounds just like my other half! I think it’s couples karma or something. Between the pair of us one of us is broken and the other super healthy. Annoying isn’t it?! Tho it’s a good job one of us is healthy, I need him to look after me! I think the dettol spray is a very good idea. I have just added a bottle to my shopping list for next week!

      • currankentucky October 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

        Gosh, ya, i forgot I need my other half to be healthy, otherwise id be really snookered. Jeepers, I better start sneaking him some of my multivitamin! Dettol spray rocks!! πŸ™‚

      • myjourneythrume October 4, 2013 at 7:43 am #

        Will he take vitamins? I strategically bought some for Ben last year and left them on the counter and he still didn’t take them. Annoying!!

      • currankentucky October 4, 2013 at 8:47 am #

        I could by packets of the stuff and he would refuse to sniff them, never mind take them! It’s very annoying, MEN!

      • BONNIE JOHNSON October 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

        BOY–DO I RELATE TO THE ”MEN!” COMMENT. I’VE USED MY OILS SO MANY TIMES ON LARRY & SEEN VERY OBVIOUS RESULTS, BUT UNLESS I DO IT FOR HIM! HIS ANKLES GET SO SWOLLEN; HE’LL NEVER SOAK THEM ON HIS OWN, EVEN THO SWELLING GOES DOWN BY HALF!! VITAMINS? FOR-GET IT! HE DOES TAKE HIS INSULIN, BUT RARELY FEEDS HIMSELF! I DON’T NEED YET ANOTHER PATIENT TO LOOK AFTER! I NEED SOMEONE TO LOOK AFTER ME…..

      • myjourneythrume October 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

        Definitely hear you on the need someone to look after me…tho I have to say I am continuously being surprised and touched by how much my other half does to look after me now I’m back in our home together πŸ™‚

      • myjourneythrume October 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

        You said it!! Men!!

  4. Ann September 30, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Hi Jess
    I forgot to say that after your flu jab you are going to feel extra yuk for a few days, this is normal. Its very very important that you do as your doctor says and take extra care of yourself, speaking from experience its not worth the fall out if you over do things

    • myjourneythrume October 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Thank you Ann, that is a very sound lesson and reminder for me. Today I thought I felt okay when I wasn’t doing anything but the minute I did something, like fix myself lunch, I was hit with how yuk I was feeling. Thank you for your advice it’s really helpful and reassuring.

  5. thehomeschoolingdoctor September 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Vibes being sent! I have strict instructions to get my kids vaccinated. My immune system is usually pretty sound, (my GI and head–different stories) so since I am no longer working, I usually skip it. Just cause I don’t want to make an appointment and drag out three kids. But the kids get theirs. And my husband, who seems to catch lots of colds, flus, etc, says he’s getting two shots this year due to his research–and contracting influenza last year despite getting the flu shot that was reported to be a great match.

    • myjourneythrume October 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

      Shot! That’s another US v GB English difference! You say shot we say jab or injection. You’re doing better than me, my immune system, GI and head are all very not sound!

      • thehomeschoolingdoctor October 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

        Jab! That’s what a brother does to you with a couple of pokey fingers. “Ouch.” Or what an opponent does verbally, “He made a jab at my beliefs on low-carbohydrate eating.” Can you use “jab” that way, too? I love language!

      • myjourneythrume October 4, 2013 at 7:46 am #

        Yep we use ‘jab’ that way too. Language is so clever!

  6. Lindsay September 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    good luck!

  7. Jumping_Jenny_444 September 30, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    I’m planning on getting my flu shot soon, but I need to schedule an appointment with a nurse practitioner. Hope the flu shot keeps you happy and flu-free! πŸ™‚ For me, the vaccination has helped me get through the flu season fine (there was only one instance where I did get the flu even though I got the shot).

    • myjourneythrume October 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

      I hope it does too! Glad to hear your positive experiences of getting vaccinated πŸ™‚

  8. E. Milo October 1, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Well… This subject has been such a hard one for me. My M.E. was caused by the flu shot (on top of other things) and I have read so many stories about others who similarly came down with ME/CFS from vaccinations (Patrick at Quixotic, No Poster Girl, Carol Lefelt’s story on Health Rising to name a few), so I am terrified. The doctor that finally diagnosed me was a top infectious disease doc here and he told me no way could I ever get any more vaccinations as long as I lived (!). It took me aback. He said I couldn’t tax my immune system like that. But, even if he hadn’t said that, I don’t think I could ever do it again when the jab is what caused this hell in the first place. Not trying to warn you or persuade you not to do it, just my experience and what my doctor said. Good luck. I’ll be spending the next seven months terrified of catching something, so I understand why you are doing it. I’ll be thinking healing thoughts for you. X

    • myjourneythrume October 3, 2013 at 8:21 am #

      Thank you. I totally understand your point of view and what your doctor says makes a lot of sense. It’s such a difficult call and everyone’s experience is different. My specialist and I debated it for a long time and it’s only cos of the increased risk of catching it with being back in London that he thought it was worth it. Ideal world I wouldn’t have had it and would have spent flu season away from as many potential germs (ie. at my parents in Lincs) but after 3 long stints up there I’m trying to take back control of my life from this blasted illness and live with my partner! I have everything crossed that both you and I get through the next few months unscathed! fingers and toes and legs and arms crossed! x

      • E. Milo October 4, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

        I was reading what you and Marie were saying about our husbands’ health and mine is exactly the same way- won’t take a vitamin no matter how sweetly I ask him to. I do it to my Mum, too. I’m trying to make everyone healthy when I’m the one who s sick!

        I’m happy you’re back in London with Mr. B. Yes, I pray we will all avoid the winter viruses… But I keep telling myself, if I catch something, it means my immune system has calmed down and I’m actually recovering. πŸ™‚

      • myjourneythrume October 5, 2013 at 7:22 am #

        That’s a very positive way of looking at it πŸ™‚

        I think we can conclude men are stubborn!

  9. BONNIE JOHNSON October 2, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    WELL!! I JUST REPLIED TO YOUR FOLLOWING POST–REALLY LOVE YOUR BLOG, BTW. YOUR STORY IS SO LIKE MINE; AS A CHILD I GOT TERRIBLE FLUS–TEMPS OF 104. THIS CARRIED ON ALL THROUGH MY ADULT LIFE; I’D GET TERRIBLE DEBILITATING COUGHS, FEVERS–BE ILL FOR WEEKS & SO WEAK FOR WEEKS AFTER–A LONG TIME TO RECUPERATE!! UNTIL I GOT THE BIGGIE–CFS/ME. AS U’LL SEE, I’VE NOT HAD A FLU SHOT SINCE & WON’T BE WITHOUT MY THERAPEUTIC, PURE ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND FROM YOUNG LIVING. I’VE USED IT FOR 10 YRS; MEMBER # 442161. I WELCOME YOUR QUESTIONS. SERIOUSLY, NOONE SHOULD BE WITHOUT THIS PRODUCT & CERTAINLY NOT AS A CFS/ME SUFFERER–WE HAVE ENUF TO DEAL WITH!! I STEER AWAY FROM PHARMACEUTICALS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE; CHEMICAL PRODUCTS ARE SOOO BAD FOR US! WE SHOULD BE AVOIDING THEM BIG TIME!

    • myjourneythrume October 3, 2013 at 8:28 am #

      Awh thank you so much Bonnie, I’m so glad you like my blog. I really appreciate you reading and commenting, more the info we share the better. It’s the best tool we have in this fight against this blasted illness.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] flu jab. If you haven’t read my first two (they’re gripping reads do check them out!) here and […]

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