Like most insufferable people, I tend to think that perfectly common things that happen to everyone else will never actually happen to me.
Please. I’m going to confess I totally thought all of you were just making that up. All the sniffling, sneezing, watery eyes? I was sure you were just exaggerating. Then I woke up one day, after four decades of blissful allergy unawareness to discover that sometime overnight I basically become allergic to all of the things everywhere. If I am not allergic to “everything” it is safe to say I am allergic to dirt and dust and old mold. And in my line of work that is pretty much everything. So now I wander around sniffling, sneezing and eating crow mostly.
Allergies exist. Pass it on.
I also have thumbed my nose, and the rest of me, to flu shots. I thought those were something best left to the elderly, infirm, and people with better health insurance than I have. I touted the importance of handwashing and high immunity. Drink your juice. Don’t lick doorknobs. That sort of thing. I thought I was golden.
This is not to say that I did not at least concede that the flu existed. I last had the flu in January of 2008. I know because we bought a minivan around that time and that seems like the kind of thing you do under the influence of a high fever and cough medicine.
Being tragically stupid I recently wrote a real snotty (like what I did there) piece about not going out in public when you’re sick. Quit acting like you’re irreplaceable, or a perfect attendance award in preschool is going to get your kid into Harvard I said. If you’re contagious, just stay home. I still believe that, mostly. Use, but don’t abuse sick days. Your body wants rest: obey your body.
Then I had the flu that lasted for what seemed like forever and a day. The cough and sore throat was annoying. The fatigue was unrelenting. It was exhausting to so much as put a sock in the washer. I committed to living in squalor and trying not to go toward the light. Still, after a few days curled up at home with copious amounts of rest, TV, and tea, it felt like time to get back to work.
Calling off work
How do people with the flu do it? I’m not in any life-saving line of work. I’m absolutely certain people can and did soldier on without me. Still, I felt like a real pill, literally, calling off during a seasonally busy time of year. So I popped a sinus pill, grabbed some tissues, and propped myself upright and got back to work figuratively and literally.
Et tu Plague Mary?
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Don’t you just hate those people who spread their disease everywhere? Yes. Me too. Then I feared becoming one.
It was off to work I went. To be fair I kept to myself, washed my hands a couple jillion times (it’s a hard number, look it up), and was careful not to so much as get within breathing distance of anyone. That’s the nice thing about making a living primarily off of taking photographs and writing. With the right lens and a good computer you can do both from afar.
Feeding the flu
Another symptom of being me is that I feed a fever, a cold, and the flu too. I know one of those things is probably supposed to be starved but the entire time I was too weak to move I was never too weak to be hungry. I craved hot sauces, spicy peppers and anything that would presumably allow me to cauterize my throat and shock my system into wakefulness. I’m just one of those people who can be sick for ten days and gain a couple pounds. On the plus side I didn’t buy a minivan — that I am aware of.
I laid around, rested up and it is important to note that my coworkers stayed healthy (knock on wood and you’re welcome). We eventually rallied enough to write this column about how maybe I should have gotten a flu shot. I’m hoping to continue the rest of the season with nary an ache or sneeze.
Laughter may be the best medicine, but I’m pretty fond of whining, wine and ibuprofen too.
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