Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flu Jab

I went with my Mum for our annual 'flu jabs this evening.  They had a real production line going at the doctor's.  "Take off your coat before you go in - - roll your sleeve up - - "

The nurse was doing the actual jabs - I barely felt mine because the doctor, sitting across the room, was telling me I needed to have my blood pressure checked and I need my diabetic review.  I was able to tell him, with only a bit of pride, that I had my blood pressure checked last week, and it was fine, and I have my blood test for my diabetic review booked for tomorrow.

Whilst all this was going on my Mum had her 'flu jab too, and then we came home.

Then, by coincidence, I watched a BBC4 drama, The Forgotten Fallen, about the 1918 influenza epidemic, and one doctor's struggle to keep it under control in Manchester.

It has been forgotten, this epidemic.  The first I knew of it was about twenty years ago when I read a book called Lock Keeper's Daughter - it was about - - you guessed - the daughter of a lock keeper on the canals.  But the shocking thing about it was that she had had a mother and six elder siblings - - and they had all died in the 1918 epidemic.  I found it very hard to imagine what it must be like to have your whole family wiped out like that, so suddenly.

The 1918 influenza outbreak killed many young, healthy adults, including soldiers who had survived all the horrors of the First World War.  It killed fast - - many were dead within twenty-four hours.

My mother has all my grandfather's letters from the trenches in the First World War.  I typed them out a few years ago.  They go right on well into 1918 and yet as far as I remember there's no mention of the influenza epidemic so perhaps it didn't affect my family much.  Or perhaps he was trying not to worry my grandmother, who was nine years younger than he was and would only have been twenty in 1918.

I think the 1918 epidemic has been completely overshadowed in our minds by the fact that it happened just after the Great War.  But the figures at the end of the programme were amazing.  228,000 people killed in Great Britain and seventy million worldwide.

How quickly we forget.


9 Comments:

Blogger Silverback said...

So I guess the storyline in Downton Abbey was accurate. I just thought it was a contrived way to get rid of a few characters !

9:43 pm  
Anonymous Shooting Parrots said...

The 1918 epidemic killed more people than the war itself. I think I'm right in saying that some of the bodies of those who died were exhumed a year or two ago in the hope of recovering samples of the virus to prepare a vaccine.

11:41 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Wasn't it known as The Spanish Flu? All over our country there a memorials to the fallen of two world wars but I have never seen a monument to the unlucky victims of that awful flu epidemic.

8:06 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Silverback - - yes, a good plot device to kill off Lavinia - - but sadly a true story!
Parrots - yes, that's right, which is why I think it's strange that we don't know more about it.
YP - yes, that's right, the Spanish Flu. I've never seen a monument either.

8:31 pm  
Blogger HM said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:30 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

The doctors I've spoken to say they are mystified as to why the 1918 flu epidemic was so deadly. It often struck down fitter younger people while sparing older and more sick people. It also seemed to have no respect for people who had 'built up tolerance' to influenza. One researher told me that any new flu epidemic would not be epcted to be as bad as we now have antibiotics and few of the old complications like pneumonia and diptheria.

1:32 pm  
Blogger Daphne2 said...

It's something I have always been aware of but only just - the Downton Abbey story served as a reminder. The impact on a generation who had witnessed young men dying in battle for the previous few years must have been immense. Having just thought that they had gained some stability they saw their hold on life slipping away again.
A completely different story, but the London smog of 1952 had an impact on my life - living near London and a baby at the time I was brought up to be afraid of fog - wrapping a scarf round my mouth, hurrying to get out of it etc. But looking at the history now (it killed thousands)I am not surprised that my mother worried about fog (or smog) drifting along the Thames Valley.

7:41 am  
Anonymous Practical Parsimony said...

Neither side of my family lost anyone in the influenza epidemic in the US. My father was one of 12 children in a poor family. I don't know if any of them contracted the flue, but none died. Surely, I would have heard of it if anyone died since I know much of the family history.

11:08 am  
Blogger ¬©Occupied Country said...

My Great Grandmother died in the outbreak - left my Great Grandad with three daughters to look after. They were considered a lucky family as they only lost one.

3:35 pm  

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