This post is half PSA and half me being a whiny complainer -- consider yourself warned. Back in early August (that's 7 freaking months ago, if you're counting), LL#1 and I both came down with whooping cough (as did my sister and one of my nieces). We were all vaccinated for it, but apparently according to the doctor, the vaccine has up to a 20% failure rate (and apparently an 80% failure rate for the women in my family, LOL!). Also, adults usually don't receive a booster vaccine for pertussis -- the tetanus booster shot that is typically given to adults leaves out the pertussis part for some reason. You can request a version of the shot with pertussis protection though, and here's where the PSA part comes in.
This has been the most miserable illness I have ever experienced. At its peak, I was coughing non-stop, round the clock. Every two or three minutes (sometimes more frequently!), I would have a coughing fit that lasted at least 30 seconds and resulted in me either gagging, throwing up, or peeing my pants (often more than one of those lovely options). Nothing stopped it - not even my magic combo of delsym and advil, which has always been my goto for relentless coughs. I finally got the doctor to give me some high-powered cough syrup (it apparently has a street name and several rap music songs devoted to singing its praises) that slowed the coughing fits down to about every hour or so, so I could at least get some sleep. And this continued for almost three weeks before easing up even a little bit. (And I apparently got off easy -- my sister actually fractured a rib during one of her coughing fits. FRACTURED A RIB!)
And then it hung on, and hung on, and hung on. For three solid months, I regularly (like once or twice an hour) had coughing fits where I was gagging and peeing myself. And even now, 7 months later, I have them once or twice a day -- they are shorter and thankfully don't usually involve gagging/peeing anymore. But if I get even the slightest little bit of respiratory crud (any little cold or the sniffles even -- which means allergy season should be a blast!), I am right back to the once or twice an hour, gagging/peeing fits. Two nights ago, I was even coughing all night long...I might have to break out my street-drug-cough-syrup again.
Anyhow, the point of this is to tell you that next time you need a tetanus shot, you might want to consider asking your doctor about getting the version with pertussis protection. Even now, having had the actual illness, the doctor says I am protected from catching it again but only for about 5 years.....apparently protection from pertussis doesn't last very long. And this sucks - I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.
I’m sorry you had to go through that!
|Pinta & the Santa Maria|
Has Achieved Nirvana
Man, that sounds horrible. I'm glad you're on the mend, albeit slowly.
And while we're on the PSA subject, for those of us "at a certain age," also consider the shingles vaccine. It won't necessarily guarantee that you won't get shingles but it will definitely ensure that you will get a mild case. And you definitely Do Not Want Shingles. Nope.
|(self-titled) semi-posting lurker|
Nina, what counts as a "certain age" -- I definitely don't want to get shingles, or whooping cough!
Lisa, I'm glad you're getting a little better, and I hope you get much better before allergy season kicks off!
|Pinta & the Santa Maria|
Has Achieved Nirvana
I think they recommend it starting at 60.
|Lord Emperor Mom|
That sounds awful, Lisa! I'm so sorry this happened to all of you.
My doctor tested me for pertussis back in January, after I'd had coughing fits not unlike the ones you describe for six weeks. The tests came back negative and I'm back to normal, but in the course of all that unpleasantness, he told me that boosters are important because the vaccine loses a lot of its effectiveness after five years. (He did not tell me that it didn't work well for some people, so that just the cherry on top of it all.)
Thank you for the PSA. I'm going to get a booster soon, but I needed to get well first. I think we should all go out and get one.
|Has Achieved Nirvana|
On the shingles front....might want to read up before getting your shot...
From October 2017:
From the CDC;
I don't think Zostavax is as effective in terms of prevention of shingles; don't have time to find a source to confirm that....but the CDC says the duration of immunity is about five years.
Lisa, so sorry that you had that, and that you are still dealing with it.
Time to check in with the doc.
I asked about the Shingrix vaccine when I had my physical last month, but it wasn't available yet. Yes to 50+, as opposed to the other vaccine for 60+. I had a mild case of shingles a couple years ago, and don't want to go through that, or worse, again.
|Does This Avatar Make My Butt Look Big?|
How come they don’t give boosters for whooping cough?
I’m waiting on the shingles shot to see if any problems surface. I don’t like new drugs or vaccines . . .
|Has Achieved Nirvana|
Re: pertussis....I think it is usually considered most dangerous for younger kids, not as much for adults. That’s of little consolation to Clan Lisa, of course.
Re: shingles vaccine....I’m with you on not being an early adopter, especially if there is no emergency.
Don't know what happened to my careful reply...oh, well
So sorry this happened to you - and for so long! What a nightmare! THREE MONTHS1?! If I'm not mistaken, you've written in here in that time - how ever did you do it?
I had whooping cough at around age eight - was sent to stay with Southern family. (Wonder why my Southern cousins catching it wasn't considered as dangerous.)
I certainly remember it, but from your description, yours was worse than mine.
Re shingles - I don't think Zostavax does much of anything. Last I looked for Shingrix it wasn't available in our backwoodsy area.
I wonder if Shingles causes blisters and scarring like chicken pox. (I was very sick with it - brothers scarcely got sick.)
Thanks for PSA!
shingles does cause blisters. a friend got it, accidentally touched his eye, and he got it there and it has permanently damaged his vision. if you get it, be careful to not touch it!
lisa, that sounds about as miserable as it can get. i think i'd be begging for a heavy sedative to take until the damned thing ran its course.
i hope you are fully recovered soon!
Oh don't get me wrong - I am am 98% recovered now and feeling fine except when it flares up due to a cold. The first couple weeks back in August were the worst but we didn't know what it was then - LL#1 got sick first and when we went to the doctor (we were on vacation so just went to an urgent care place), they said it was just a regular cold/cough, so when I got sick, I never went. We went out places and did stuff because other than the cough, we felt ok - no fever or any other flu-like symtptoms - just the relentless cough. (I distinctly remember we had an appt with a new psychiatrist for LL#1 that we had waited months for so neither one of us wanted to cancel. We were told it was just a regular cold, so we sat in the poor guys office hacking and gagging and telling him "the doctor said it's just a cold, sorry"). I wonder how many people we infected along the way.
After we had coughed like that for 2 straight weeks, I remember having an episode at night where I was gasping at the end and I "whooped" (it's a squeaky sound you make as you try to stop coughing long enough to suck in air). The light bulb went on in my brain and I consulted Dr. Google about the symptoms of whooping cough and it fit perfectly. I made an appt with LL#1's actual pediatrician and he must have read our description of our symptoms on the chart because he came in all suited up in a hazmat type suit and sat WAY across the room from us, LOL. By that time, we were 3 weeks in and the worst of it had started to abate. He said that after 3 weeks your body has cleared all the bacteria so a culture test would probably be negative (and it was), but that based on our description of the symptoms he was positive that is what we had. He is the one who told us that the vaccine has a 20% failure rate, and also told us that the bacteria causes damage to the lining of your throat and upper respiratory system that takes up to 6 months to resolve.
LL#1 and my niece are basically completely better, while my sister and I are still hacking. (And oddly, LL#2 and Mr. Lisa never so much as coughed once -- guess when the vaccine works, it really works!) I don't know if that is a function of kids just having better immune systems or if they had a milder case because of being more recently vaccinated as kids than my sister and I were. And it may just be so horrible for me because I have always been prone to hacky coughs from even mild colds -- as a kid, I came down with croup at least three times a year and as an adult, I usually get a nasty case of laryngitis at least once a season -- a doc once told me it has something to do with the shape of my upper airway, whatever that means. But since the whoooping cough, my usual cough has taken itself to a whole new level and it shows no sign of returning to baseline.
I have no idea why they don't include pertussis in the usual tetanus shot. Apparently they really should.
|Has Achieved Nirvana|
I'm guessing it's twofold.
First, usually whooping cough is most dangerous for the very young, and your ability to survive it improves as you get older.
Second, the tetanus vaccine has a 10 year duration of immunity, while the pertussis portion is only about five years.
So even if you got the combo shot, in theory the pertussis vaccine would have worn off long before you'd be getting the next booster. Might give people a false sense of security.
Don't know if there's a pertussis-only version. I thought it only came in combos.
There is not, which seems odd to me. Last time I had a tetanus shot (probably 15 years ago now), I had a really weird reaction to it (my throat started to itch and my tongue started to swell as I was driving home - it was really freaky) and I was told I was probably allergic and that I should never get another tetanus shot again. So I did look to see if I could just get pertussis by itself, and apparently you can't -- they don't make one. Seems stupid to me.
So I guess I'll talk to the doc at my next physical about what to do. Maybe there's a different formulation of the shot that I can get -- who knows. At any rate, I'm good for 5 years now on the pertussis front at least! I just have to avoid rusty nails so I don't die of tetanus....
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