Kathleen Nguyen

Kathleen Nguyen

January 20, 2014

EDMONTON – Yes, she did get her flu shot. She does each and every year. Her three children too.

But Kathleen Nguyen, sacramental education co-ordinator for the Edmonton Archdiocese, was burning the candle at both ends before Christmas break. On Dec. 16 she noticed she was tired, faint, fuzzy headed.

After supper, she went to bed with her children at 8:30. A few hours later, she awoke feeling nauseous, feverish. Both she and her baby daughter were sick, so Nguyen called her husband home from his night shift job.

"From there, it went downhill. I was very disoriented, aching, fever and chills. I couldn't eat anything. I could not get out of bed. I did not know what time or day it was."

The young mother lost four pounds in the first four days.

She experienced chills then sweats that soaked the bed. Nguyen thought she would wait it out, thinking it was just the regular flu. By Friday though, she was so weak and ill, her husband drove her to the doctor.

"I couldn't function. I could not believe I was not able to take care of my children."

The physician told her to wait it out and if the symptoms got worse, go to emergency at the hospital.

Later that day, Nguyen was besieged by a severe sore throat and bad headache. Everything was times 10 in intensity.

Dehydrated, she forced herself to drink chicken broth. Back to the doctor or Monday. Chest x-ray. No pneumonia. Christmas came and went. The family stayed home. Nguyen felt no better.

Her husband had to go back to work. Yet Nguyen was barely able to care for her children – feed them, console them, put them back to bed.

At the end of the second week, her aching throat and ears forced Nguyen to go back to the doctors. She was also coughing, worried about strep throat, no appetite. Her physician finally diagnosed her as having H1N1.

A virus, so antibiotics are ineffective.

The third week and Nguyen still felt punk. Her throat and ears still ached.

Week four and she was back at work but still not 100 per cent.

"I know my immune system has been compromised and it is a very long road to recovery," she says. "What shocked me the most was just how much it has taken me out of commission. I had no energy to do anything for weeks."

Despite her illness, Nguyen is a firm advocate for vaccinations, getting her flu shot each year and making sure her children's vaccinations are up to date.

"I really believe in them."