A Rough Start to 2018 – Under The Northern Sky

Swine FLU H1N1 - Closeup of pills and syringe over white


Man with Northern Lights reflection
Man with Northern Lights reflection

by Xavier Kataquapit

ATTAWAPISKAT – I have been struggling with Influenza A for more than two weeks over Christmas and New Years. This flu is circulating across Canada and has been making people very seriously sick in Southern Ontario and now in the north. I have had serious cases of flu in the past and in particular one that I picked up traveling through Asia and India. That flu took me months to get over.

This ordeal with this flu has been wicked and I am still recovering from it. I do my best to stay in good health, I am in good shape so I survived it but many people older than 65 years of age, people with health complications and the very young actually die from this influenza. Influenza A is a killer for some and that is why we should be getting the information to the public that it is in the area. Elderly people should be very careful and we should all take great care in making sure we don’t pass on this flu to them.

Complications from the flu can include pneumonia. The flu sends about 12,200 patients to hospitals and 3,500 deaths in Canada occur annually due to this malady. Symptoms of the flu start to appear about one to four days after you have picked it up but it is very contagious right from the start before you have any symptoms. This means it is spread rapidly and it is far reaching. If you are lucky, you will recover in a week or two but sometimes people get secondary infections that are bacterial and end up with pneumonia and other dangerous conditions.

Symptoms of the flu can include fever, headache, cough, chills, stuffed up feeling, sore throat, weakness, and loss of appetite. The Influenza A is more serious than its cousins B and C and must be treated early on. See your doctor if you think you have this. I’ve heard reports that there is limited swabbing these days to test for which kind of flu you have so I am not sure what that means in terms of the big picture.

I went to see a medical professional at the local clinic but I had to push to get in to see him. He checked my lungs out and suggested I seemed to be doing good with it but prescribed an antibiotic and puffer for my friend who is older. He also had an x-ray done of my friend’s lungs and that information showed that there was some concern. He ended up taking the antibiotic with the concern that there might be the risk of pneumonia in his case.  The doctor suggested we keep up with what we had been doing in resting, staying warm, drinking lots of liquids and taking vitamin C. Many people believe in taking natural remedies like essential oils. I tried oil of oregano and I think it helped but I am not at all that sure.

The problem with Influenza A is that it can get away on you very quickly so I think if you are at risk you should see your doctor as early as possible once you start feeling unwell. There is a pushback from the medical community that suggests that people should stay home, get rest and drink lots of liquids rather than show up at emergency where you might just make others sick too. However, you are your own best health advocate when it comes right down to it and if you are at risk and concerned then get to a doctor and if necessary get to emerge.

On another northern health and safety note, I was very sad to hear that Gilbert Cheechoo Sr, of Moose Cree First Nation, passed away as the result of an automobile accident on icy northern roads recently.  I always enjoyed meeting Gilbert as he was so encouraging towards me. He believed that young Aboriginal people were the future and he did his very best to blaze the trail for us. He was an excellent manager, political figure and traditional man. My condolences go out to his family, friends and all the people of the James Bay coast in the wake of such a huge loss. Meegwetch Gilbert for your kindness, humour, energy, and strength that you shared so freely with us all. We need to do something to stop the tragic deaths that occur on our dangerous, icy northern roads. Maybe it is time to bring back the trains.


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Under The Northern Sky is the title of a popular Aboriginal news column written by First Nation writer, Xavier Kataquapit, who is originally from Attawapiskat Ontario on the James Bay coast. He has been writing the column since 1997 and it is is published regularly in newspapers across Canada. In addition to working as a First Nation columnist, his writing has been featured on various Canadian radio broadcast programs. Xavier writes about his experiences as a First Nation Cree person. He has provided much insight into the James Bay Cree in regards to his people’s culture and traditions. As a Cree writer, his stories tell of the people on the land in the area of Attawapiskat First Nation were he was born and raised.