23 Apr I nearly died from H1N1. I can tell you this: Social distancing is the best potion we have to fight the coronavirus in Wisconsin
In 2009, the H1N1 viral pandemic nearly killed me. I’ve lived through the care the sickest COVID-19 patients will need, and I’m here to tell you that social distancing through Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order is the only chance we have.
In 2009, when I traveled to California to accept an award on behalf of the State of Wisconsin, I was a healthy thirty-something who exercised regularly with zero underlying health issues. I took four flights there and back, attended a conference, gave a speech, and shook countless hands.
Somewhere along the line, I contracted H1N1.
After spending a week sick at home, I went to the emergency room and was admitted. The last thing I remember is messaging my team at work to let them know I’d be out one more day. Two days later, I was in a medically-induced coma, intubated, and on a mechanical ventilator.
The University Hospital Trauma and Life Support Center, where I was, is a 24-bed ICU. The day I arrived, Dr. Dennis Maki, one of the world’s top infectious disease experts, happened to be on rotation. I not only had a ventilator, but a fancy bed that rotated to clear fluid from my lungs, one-on-one nursing care, and, literally, some of the best doctors in the world.
Today, we lack the resources to provide the average COVID-19 patient with this level of care. And as medical providers become ill, it will get worse.