Flu kills

Polly Gillespie has a column that hits home as she celebrates the life of the sister she lost to the flu.

In October 2000 my sister died of influenza in Waikato hospital.

She got sick on the Tuesday and was dead on the Saturday. It was a horrible death. I’ll never forget sitting with her all through the night. She was in an induced coma. Blood seeped from her eyes, nose and ears. Her hands and feet turned black.

The wonderful staff at the hospital hooked her up to a machine that removed her blood, cleaned it, and pumped it back through her body. The noise of that machine will live in my head forever.

“If she lives, and she probably won’t,” the doctor said, “I’m afraid she will lose her hands and feet.”

“I don’t care!” I said. “Please just save her.”

How could an artist, scientist, and Les Mills fitness fanatic live without hands and feet? I didn’t care about her. I just wanted Jeanette alive for “me”. The problem was because she was so young and fit, her body was battling the infection so hard that it killed itself in the struggle.

Please don’t believe the flu only kills old and vulnerable people. My sister was in her prime. She was healthy, fit and lean.

Don’t tell me you have the flu when you have a cold. Don’t tell me you don’t need the flu injection. Don’t tell me you know anything about the flu until you’ve seen someone die of it, in a matter of days.

Don’t even talk to me about the flu until you’ve watched a body shut down, bleed from every orifice, and then die with lungs full of fluid. There was no combination of antibiotics strong enough to save the life of a near perfect human being.

Get the flu shot. Don’t write to me telling me about bad reactions. Don’t begin to talk to me about not believing in vaccinations, because I really might hurt you. And I’ll certainly hate you. I’ve seen the result of not getting a flu vaccination. Jeanette told me she didn’t think she needed one because she was fit and healthy.

Influenza kills young, amazing, gifted, beautiful, incredible people. It’s quick, and it’s brutal, and extraordinarily messy. Please get vaccinated.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.