The Second Half: Here comes da flu!

By Kathleen D. Tresemer


Everyone is talking about THE SWINE FLU. All over the news are fear-inducing statistics and photos of a masked populous. It’s a scary sort of topic, the first official pandemic in my adult lifetime. Even scarier is the idea that public health bodies in some states may actually mandate vaccines, requiring us to go take the shot.

I remember standing in line as a child, Mom holding my hand as we snaked slowly through the high school gymnasium toward a lady in white sitting at a table. I didn’t know what polio was or why the grownups all seemed so anxious. I just remember Mom telling me, “Everybody has to get one, so we don’t get sick and crippled.”

After an eternity, we made it to the table, and the lady handed me a little white sugar cube with a dot of pink on it. “Go ahead, honey, just pop it in your mouth—it’s sweet, you’ll like it!” (Sounds like dialog from an old drug movie: tense psychedelic music plays, after which the young victim drops to the floor and cries, “Oh, no! I’m freakin’ out, man!”)

It wasn’t until I was in college that I heard about allergic reactions to vaccines—people even died as a result. Based on my lack of trust in the medical profession, I am a big fan of natural remedies. Looking into alternatives to this new vaccine for the swine flu, I’m hoping I might avoid the possible side effects of a rushed-into-market vaccine. I’m just not a big fan of taking stuff because, like Hubby says, “The cure is often worse than the disease.”

So if I don’t want the shot, what should I do to avoid swine flu?

One of my writer-pals, Terri, is way into natural stuff and she suggested Turmeric: “You could never season your food enough to get the appropriate dose each day, so get it in capsule form.”

I checked it out, and found bright yellow-orange capsules that look and smell just like the spice I use in curry recipes. The description on the label says: “The active ingredients in Turmeric include Curcuminoids, plant-based antioxidants. Turmeric is known for its immune supporting properties…believed to contribute to brain health and functioning.” Fine print adds that these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, just like every other supplement.

Quietly and without fanfare, Terri purchased a case or two of those filter masks that you see in news films of Mexico and the Far East. She says, “It can’t hurt, and logically, it will help to avoid infection by inhaling the virus.”

I can’t wait to see if the mask becomes an actual fashion accessory, with stars like Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake showing off their stylish designer masks on Entertainment Tonight. I wonder when I’ll hear this in a department store dressing room: “Tell me the truth, Tiffany…does this mask make my butt look big?”

Al, my friendly retired pharmacist, is no fan of prescription drugs—a pharmacist who avoids medicine, imagine that! A few years ago, Al turned me on to a homeopathic product called OSCILLOCOCCINUM (say “o-sill-o-cox-see-num”). This stuff has no side effects, and does not make me either sleepy or jittery. I have taken it at the first hint of the flu, and have seen pretty good results. In light of its effectiveness, I keep a constant supply in my medicine cabinet. After all, if you feel like you have the flu coming on, you don’t want to run to the store, right? To find out more about this stuff, check out their Web site at

My favorite chiropractor, Dr. J (Jarrod Kerkhoff of Loves Park Chiropractic) is always happy to give me resources and suggested this health and wellness Web site, sponsored by a Chicago-based doctor: Dr. Mercola had an article about protecting yourself from the flu by following these guidelines:

1. Eliminate sugar and processed foods as they have a negative effect on your immune system;

2. Take animal-based omega 3 fats, preferably Krill Oil;

3. Exercise to improve circulation for optimum immune system performance;

4. Get enough vitamin D;

5. Get enough good, quality sleep;

6. Deal with your stress; and

7. Wash your hands.

These seven steps seemed a bit remedial to me, even ordinary. I was looking for something huge, something different, something with a little pizzazz! You know, like: “Cut off the head of a chicken, plunge it into a pillowcase full of deadly nightshade, and dance around it naked under the new moon until it combusts.”

But this list seemed too…simple. I decided to Google the “Big-Wigs of Disease”—the Center for Disease Control (CDC)—well-known for addressing problems with the complexity I was seeking. The CDC has a huge Web site dedicated to the swine flu. Check it out at Interesting facts on this Web site include the following:

“Human infections with the new H1N1 virus are ongoing in the United States. Most people who have become ill with this new virus have recovered without requiring medical treatment.”

That’s encouraging! The CDC prevention guidelines were much the same as Dr. Mercola’s list (minus the supplements), focusing on hand-washing, avoiding contact, and dealing with stress. In light of this, I now have a medical reason to hibernate: relax in the tub, watch TV and eat bonbons all winter. I know it’s unrealistic, but…I do what I can.

Next column—more about avoiding swine flu and stress!

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at

From the Aug. 19-25, 2009 issue

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