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The Horror of Influenza

flu.jpgYou haven't seen me post much these last two weeks because I've been involved in an epic battle with man's most formidable enemy. A virus. My stepdaughter came home from visiting her family, which includes two who were sick. Two days later, she was stricken. Then my youngest was afflicted two days later. They were both seen by doctors, one who misdiagnosed strep throat, the other who assumed it was swine flu. The kids were sick for about four days and enjoyed tender loving care along with a school vacation. Then they were fine. I can't say as much for myself.

When armageddon comes, it won't be like they portray it in the movies. The real enemy of mankind is so small and insidious that you can't dazzle the audience with special effects. The flu virus, or any virus, is an evil entity so primitive that there is still some controversy as to whether it should be classified as a living thing. It has only one goal: to reproduce. Like the Terminator, it will destroy you and everything you love to accomplish that goal. But, being so primitive, it can't replicate the way bacteria does. To reproduce, a virus has to infiltrate a living cell and turn it into a zombie that can do nothing but the will of the virus, which means churning out more virus until the host cell dies of exhaustion.

The kids were feeling better on Friday when Mr. Perfect and I both had the sensation that we were coming down with something. You know that feeling in the back of your eyes? Yeah, we had no idea what we were in for. Saturday through Monday was a fog of fever, on and off, hot and cold, shivering and trying to breathe. I had a strange vision that my body's systems were separating, like the overlays you find in anatomy books. My nervous system felt one way, while my circulatory system felt completely different. It was my bronchial tubes that took on a life of their own. My trachea from my larynx down and my bronchi felt like a disembodied piece of meat that someone was twisting as hard as they could. That lasted for two days and was then replaced by a week-long headache.

Tuesday (ten days ago), I thought maybe I was making some progress, as the fevers were spaced further apart. I managed to get on the internet long enough to keep from getting fired, but that tired me so much I had to lay down to recuperate. But that was another problem. There seemed to be big ropes of mucus stuck to the back of my throat that tickled incessantly, but never budged a millimeter. I also had a weird sense of increased gravity, but only on my head. I couldn't sit up for long, because my head would just fall over, but if I laid down, the coughing increased so much that I couldn't sleep. We moved a recliner into the bedroom so I could try sleeping sitting up. I managed to snooze for a couple of hours each night. Most of my time was spent either sitting in a fog or in the bathroom.

Yeah, then there was the diarrhea. I couldn't imagine where all this was coming from, since I hadn't eaten in several days. I was living off coffee and cough drops. I turned to look at the toilet and knew. It was from the very depths of hell. Like a black hole, no light could escape that toilet. That's when I grasped the pure demonic evil of the swine flu virus. Although it felt like every molecule of water had flowed from my body, the process had to be repeated every hour or so. Meanwhile, the extra gravity continued to press down on my skull.

flu_masks_1918_19.jpgBy Friday, I felt lightheaded (in comparison). I thought maybe I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! My stomach started growling. At that phase, you know you should eat, but nothing sounded appetizing to me at all. So I turned to comfort food, meaning Chinese takeout. Schezuan beef, hot sour soup, fried rice, anything I could think of that had a little taste. Besides, I bought enough so that no one had to cook for a couple more days. The kids had already ruined just about every pan in the house cooking for themselves.

It turns out that the light at the end of the tunnel was a train coming toward me. I still couldn't sleep, and the constant cough didn't move anything out of my throat. All I accomplished was to let everyone think I was OK, so I could start running the house again. Even surfing the internet was a chore. I could get a load of laundry in, but moving it to the dryer required a serious rest period first. I emptied a bottle of Nyquil trying to sleep. One day this week I slept ten hours in a 24-hour period. In good health, I get about five hours. Today, TWO WEEKS after the onset of symptoms, I am finally feeling some relief when I cough. Oh, I'm still in the recliner to snooze, but at least I'm snoozing.

I spent a week deathly ill and another week being exhausted. Mankind's most powerful foe must be feared, and must be fought. I think I've given it just about all I have. If you have a chance to be vaccinated against this enemy, do it. From my experience, I can posit that for every ten years older you are, the flu hits you twice as hard. They say the swine flu hits younger people harder than seasonal flu, so don't take any chances even if you are young and healthy. I wouldn't wish this adventure on anyone.

Now I'm going to take a nap. In my recliner.

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1 Comment

You poor thing..it sounds absolutely horrific! Hope you're back to your old self soon, Miss C..

said Cindy on October 24, 2009 1:41 PM.
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