Friday, December 19, 2014

We Gave Tamiflu A Shot, And Here's What Happened...

I knew it was only a matter of time. 

On Monday, Noah's teacher announced that there's something going around. 70 kids out sick at his school. 

The next day, my hairstylist informs me while snipping away at my hair, that at her daughter's school, less than 10 miles away from us, 98 students were out sick. Statistically speaking, I knew the odds were against us. I kept praying, "If we can just get through this week, just this week....please..."

And then Wednesday morning came and I got the dreaded call from the school nurse. 

"Mom, your son is here with me at the clinic and he's complaining of a headache and his temperature is 99.6. So....can you come pick him up?"

I could've been a smart ass and argued that 99.6 is technically not a fever. But I also knew that my son is not the type who fakes illnesses and who won't really agree to be sent to the clinic in the first place unless he really wasn't feeling well.

And so I rushed to pick him up and saw that my son really didn't look good at all. While walking towards the car, he said he felt extremely nauseous and that his head was throbbing really bad. By the time we got home, his temperature began to spike and I knew in my heart it was the dreaded FLU.

Yes, we all got vaccinated, we are fairly healthy, and doing our best to always wash or sanitize our hands and minimize the face-touching. Yes to all that so NO, I did not see this coming. 

On Thursday morning, I was able to book an appointment at the pediatrician's office and after two swabs (one for the flu and another for strep) and a longer than normal wait time, the doctor informed us that my son does have the flu. On the bright side though, she quickly added, my son came early enough (less than 48 hours after the initial onset of symptoms) for him to get the benefit of taking the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

I asked if what I heard was true, that Tamiflu can cause hallucinations. The doctor said yes, it does.

Then I asked if the drug can prevent further complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. The doctor said no, it does not.

I've heard of this drug for at least a couple of years now but never really bothered to do serious research on it. So with an optimistic heart and an in-denial mommy brain, I agreed to the prescription and focused on my desperation to shorten my son's illness and make the experience for him as bearable as I could, or as any drug could.

This sense of desperation was further made obvious by my willingness to pay the pharmacist $70+ in exchange for the last bottle they had! How lucky can I be?!

So I went home eager to administer the first dose to my suffering child. I fed him a little bit and then gave him the medicine. 

After 30 minutes, he threw up...a lot. After that, I encouraged him to rest and take a nap. In the next two hours that followed, he kept opening his eyes and with a troubled look on his face kept asking me, "Am I bigger to you? Am I taller? I feel so tall, Mama. I feel like I'm floating above, like I'm right by the ceiling"

At that point I really wondered if it was the drug. I knew it wasn't delirium from his fever because his temperature wasn't even that high. It only hovered around 102. But since I still wanted so badly to trust in Tamiflu and its 'mighty powers', I chose to remain in denial and chalked it up to Noah's predisposition to sleep talking or night terrors. 

Everything changed when one of my lovely neighbors messaged me on Facebook. They live across the street and her daughter also started with the flu last weekend. She sent me this blog post talking about cases of deaths in Japan after taking Tamiflu. It also mentions how Roche (the manufacturer of Tamiflu) has refused to release all the data from their clinical trials for the said drug.

After reading that one post, I decided to keep searching online and weigh all the information I could find. 

A lot of the information are anecdotal and I still wasn't all that convinced. However, I found these two sites that made me all the more comfortable with my decision NOT to continue with Tamiflu for my seven year-old. 

What has become clear to me is that this drug does not seem all that safe especially when administered to children, and that at this point, it appears that the risks still outweigh the benefit (which may just be a shortening of flu symptoms by one day). I would rather have my child go through that extra day if it means not giving him the severe nausea, diarrhea (which, by the way, he also had), hallucinations, and other possible psychotic episodes that have been reported. 

I'm not here to tell you what to do. I'm merely sharing our brief experience with this drug and the data I've found online. The point here is that medical / health decisions are personal and it is our responsibility to weigh the facts available to us instead of merely relying on advertisements, hearsay or make hasty decisions based on fear.

To end on a lighter, more holiday-appropriate note, I'm leaving you with this song I 'wrote'. Sing it to your heart's content to the tune of 'Here Comes Santa Claus'.  Enjoy!

Here Comes Tamiflu

Here comes Tamiflu,
Here comes Tamiflu,
Right down 'Fluenza lane
Oseltamivir and Phosphate
Pullin' on the reins
Voices talkin', Shadows chasin',
All is causing me fright
So lock your doors and say your prayers,
'Cause Tamiflu comes tonight.

Here comes Tamiflu,
Here comes Tamiflu,
Right down 'Fluenza lane
It's got promises you can't confirm
for boys and girls again.
Read those reviews and research papers,
Oh what a frightful sight.
So jump in bed and rest instead
Before Tamiflu comes tonight.

Here comes Tamiflu,
Here comes Tamiflu,
Right down 'Fluenza lane
It'll come around when the temperature drops
It's flu time once again.
Fun and Health will come to all
Just rest, hydrate and sit tight
Don't spend your money, you prob'ly don't need it
Don't need Tamiflu tonight.

Do you have any experience with this drug that you'd like to share? I would love to hear your stories!


  1. I haven't had any personal experience with Tamiflu, but my 10 year old niece took it last year and didn't have any side effects. Not sure it did much to shorten her symptoms, although hers was the respiratory flu. Thanks for sharing your experience. Hope your little guy is feeling better soon!

    1. Good to hear your niece was okay with it. Thanks Lana!

  2. Replies
    1. Hehehehe.......Thanks, Diane! It's been stuck in my head..

  3. Replies
    1. The cough lingers, as expected, but he's much better. I'm the one with the damn flu now...grrrr.....Thanks Marie!

  4. I've taken it before and didn't know about all of the negative things about it. It didn't seem to work to well for me though. Great song.

    1. I have the flu now and my doctor friend is encouraging me to take it. I'm too scared. Anyway, glad nothing unusual happened to you, Rena. :-)

  5. Sorry about Noah's and your experience. My uncle took Tamiflu, had a severe reaction and is now in a coma. From a very vital man, he is now hanging on to life. This happened last October. Though the risks of side effects, especially severe side effects are small, they can happen. I have a doctor friend who says half- jokingly, "the side effects of this medicine/procedure are 2 % (or .5% or whatever) but if it happens to you then it's 100%"

    1. OMG, so sorry to hear that Kat. That's extremely worrisome and scary. I really don't get how, in spite of the reports, this drug is still being pushed by medical professionals. There's the power of the pharmaceuticals at work. *sigh* Thanks for stopping by and sharing that! xoxo


Let me know your thoughts!