Oh H1N1 – How I Hate Thee..

h1n1 virus

So , last week I read the news about the H1N1 cases in Doha recently. My first reaction, PANIC!!!!! (why??? you will understand it a bit…). Yes, it’s back in Doha and it reminded me of a very interesting story of mine. But before I tell you that, let me remind you the facts about H1N1 (so you would understand my story better 😉  

(Sources: http://www.Flu.gov , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_flu_pandemic)

h1n1-pandemic-logo                data

  • In the spring of 2009, a new flu virus H1N1 (swine flu) spread quickly across the United States and the world.
  • In June 2009, WHO declared the outbreak as a Pandemic.
  • The CDC estimates that 43 million to 89 million people had H1N1 between April 2009 and April 2010. They estimate between 8,870 and 18,300 H1N1 related deaths.
  • It is now a human seasonal flu virus and getting your flu shots is your best protection against it.

I think I have reminded you of all what it was about and why the media was going all crazy about it.

Summer of 2009, like every year, we went to US for holidays. Amna was turning 1 year old! We celebrated her birthday with family there and I used this holiday as a chance to wean off Amna from breastfeeding and switch her to Cow’s milk (which we successfully did with Mohsin taking charge, kicking me out of our room for 2 nights and after a day of crying and screaming she finally took the bottle ). And you cannot imagine how glad I am that we did this (you will find out later in this post.. read on..)

As we flew back to Doha, there was a lot of scare as WHO declared H1N1 as a Pandemic. It made me nervous specially with a toddler.. I had disinfectant wipes in my bags…wiping everything before Amna would touch anything at the airport or the plane.. sanitizing our hands like a maniac! The scene at the airport was scary.. People wearing masks and gloves, warning signs everywhere, the airport staff asking you a million questions about if you have any symptoms etc. etc.

travel h1n1 Collage
Various Image Sources

We finally reached Doha and Mohsin was very happy that the journey with a maniac mom was over (he had no idea what was coming ahead… ). Two days  after we reached Doha, I (yes, unfortunately the maniac herself) developed flu symptoms – high fever , runny nose, sore throat (basically all the works…). I was super duper worried, not for myself but WHAT IF, it IS H1N1 and I give it to Amna (the way every mom thinks…). I waited for 2 days.. moved myself in a separate room .. tried to do everything possible to keep my germs to myself.. but the warning signs I had read at the airport kept haunting me..

Let me tell you a little more about my self … I cannot break rules.. (well, I did while I was growing up but not anymore..) , specially the written ones ( and my husband is the opposite… arrrgghhhh ). If it’s written some where, “Don’t Do This”, I swear I won’t! ( I actually CAN’T).  If there is a sign that says “Keep Off The Grass”, I would die of guilt if I had to walk on that damn grass!

So basically the signs at the Qatar Airport said:

“If you develop Flu like symptoms after a recent travel, see your doctor at the Health Centre”

This sign haunted me for 2 days when I had fever and it wouldn’t go down.. I kept on saying to Mohsin that I want to go see the doctor and get it checked just to rule it out. He gave up after two days of trying to convince me that I was just panicking for no reason.. So we went to the Health Centre.

The doctor checked me and then took a throat swab to test. I was expecting that he would ask me to wait till the results come back (In my experience the strep tests results came in an hour or so) and then go home. But then the UNTHINKABLE happened.. while I was waiting in the room for my results, the doctor had arranged for an ambulance to transport me to the hospital. I was so confused as to what is happening and no body was answering my questions! (They were probably afraid I am gonna run away if I knew… and I am sure I  would have!!!) So I left in the ambulance with them leaving Amna and Mohsin totally confused….

During the ride, I kept asking questions…the nurse was not answering my questions.. neither were the paramedics.. they would just smile at me.. and say its going to be okay! (and It was NOT OKAY! ). They took me to a Quarantine Area.


I was taken to a room (which by the way was no less than a 5 star hotel room, with a TV, Internet, Phone, even a hair dryer..) and was told that I will need to stay here till the results came. My instant reaction was “How long would that be?” and the doctor said, “It could take up to 5 days but may be it will come earlier…”.

Tears started running down my face oblivious of the fact that the doctors and the nurses were still around me.. I told them I had a one year old daughter and she needs me .. and the doctor said.. “Its for her safety we are doing this”. I knew he was right but I kept thinking… “How will I stay without Amna for 5 days??…how will she stay without me??, how will Mohsin manage his job and Amna??? (we didn’t have any help at that time). I called him and told him that this is what they said and he got angry at me for my ‘better be safe than sorry theory’! More tears… (*sniff*)

I was given Anti Viral drugs & other fever reducing medicines. Every day the nurse came to check my temperature and vital signs. The food was kept outside in the corridor and I had to wear a mask to go outside of the room and get my food… It felt like living in a prison. I missed Amna ! I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat a thing….. Mohsin came to give my stuff (clothes, laptop, movies and some books) but he had to leave that at the reception downstairs. I couldn’t meet him.

The assumption was, I am H1N1 positive unless proven otherwise.

I got calls from family and friends for support.. telling me its going to be okay. I wasn’t even a bit concerned if it was positive or not…. I just wanted to go home. Five days seemed like 5 years.. I couldn’t concentrate on any book or movie or anything… My brother (who is a writer and had two kids under 5 at that time) told me how he wished he could be in my place.. He would have loved the alone time.. to think and write (I think I would not mind 5 days of solitude myself now after having 3 kids 😉 ) but I felt differently at that time.. probably because it was forced and not by choice. Looking back I feel stupid, feeling this bad about an all expenses covered, 5 days getaway in a 5 star hotel.. Silly me!(I think a Spa there would have changed the way I looked at it back then 😉 )

Every evening I waited for the nurse to tell me if the results came in or not and everyday she said ,”Not yet”.. On the 5th day when I was expecting my result (Mohsin came to pick me up as well..) I was ready to leave , all packed. Plus I was all better.. my flu was gone – I knew I wasn’t H1N1 positive.. So the nurse said .. “Oh, you know … none of  the results came today.. we will get it tomorrow morning”. I couldn’t stay one more night! NO WAY!!! I called Mohsin.. he called everywhere possible to get to the person who actually sends the results to the premises every evening and after an hour of him tracing people (while I prayed hard & refused to get up from the prayer mat until I get the result) .. we found out that my result was NEGATIVE!!! ( YAAAAYYYYYYYYY and yeah Mohsin, Mr Incredible saved the day once again!).


I can never forget the look on Amna’s face when she saw me.. She stared at me for about a minute or so (as if trying to recognize me) and then hugged me soooo tightly! . And ofcourse Mohsin’s. “See, I told you…” look!

So this time folks, I went today and got the appointment for Flu Shots for not only the kids but the whole family (including the nanny 🙂 ). Not taking any chances!




One thought on “Oh H1N1 – How I Hate Thee..

  1. Ruvanthi

    Loved it Shehar. Haven’t read your posts for a while. You seem to be enjoying this. Keep writing!
    I’m actually trying to get our health cards sorted in order to get the shots.


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