If you’re like me, you always thought the flu was something not to worry about. It happens every year and just knocks you off your feet for a few days at most. But this is completely not true. The flu virus can be deadly. Up to 650,000 people die from the flu every year around the world. And in countries like the United States, the elderly or very young are at heightened risk. And now that San Diego County is in the middle of one of the worst flu epidemics on record, one family is watching their father fight for his life.
As a Navy serviceman, Shawn Burrough from Lakeside, California knows how to be tough. But all his military training did not prepare him to fight the microscopic virus killing him from the inside. Now he is heavily sedated and hooked up to a ventilator at the Intensive Care Unit at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. And every moment counts.
“He’s in renal failure because of the infection in his blood. He’s getting dialysis,” Jennifer, his wife, told KSWB.
Jennifer remembers her husband starting to suffer from the flu bug back at Christmas. Everyone in the family seemed to get it all at once.
“He had a little chest congestion, headache, body ache – the usual stuff where you’re like, ‘OK, I’m getting the flu,’” Jennifer said.
But her husband ignored the symptoms instead of going to a doctor. And now he is on life support and his family is worried sick.
Shawn ignored his symptoms and continued to work. He didn’t stay home and rest like he should have, Jennifer said.
Then on New Year’s Day, her husband was rushed to the emergency room.
“He couldn’t breathe. They had to rush me out. They had to intubate him and sedate him. They told me he was in renal failure. His white (blood cell) count was through the roof. He has severe pneumonia.”
Jennifer and her family decided to tough out the flu season and chose not to get vaccinated. Now they regret it. With Shawn in the hospital, her two younger children also have the flu virus.
“The doctor checked them out. Their lungs are clear. Thank God everything’s fine,” Jennifer said. But she is apprehensive about her husband.
As a United States Navy veteran, Shawn fought in the Gulf War. He is a tough man who now works two jobs to provide for his wife and four children. Jennifer never imagined that an invisible enemy like the flu could take down her husband so easily.
“Other than being a little overweight he’s totally healthy, a totally healthy guy,” she claimed.
Now she has a warning to all other people who ignored the doctors’ warnings.
“If you’re sick – I mean the first cough, I don’t care if it’s not the flu – go get seen just in case. You never know,” she said.
With her husband on life support, Jennifer feels lost.
“He’s my rock. He’s the love of my life… He’s everything.”
If it’s not too late, get vaccinated for the flu.