There has been a lot written in the last few weeks about the flu going around, all over the country. Favorite topics in these articles include how to protect yourself and others, the signs that you are getting the flu, the signs you have the flu and how terrible this "new" flu seems to be.
Well I can relate to all this. You see last week I got it, or something like what they have been describing. Probably many of you have had it as well. This is not your father's flu for sure, or at least it wasn't like anything I had taken on before.
I had done the things to try and protect myself from it. That is, of course, except getting vaccinated. I forget now that they consider me a senior citizen so I am in a "priority group" or so I heard last week on television while I was under the influence of the disease. I get confused though. Because I am over 60 am I now elderly too? I hear both terms, elderly and senior, used interchangeably it seems. I think it depends on if the newscaster is 25 or 45. To 25s everyone is old. To 45s they know they are on the doorstep themselves. As for the vaccination, well dumb me. My doctor tells me to get one every year and I guess from now on I will take his advice.
The television news channels love to talk about this epidemic that is going on. They quote officials from around the country, interview doctors and nurses who are right in the thick of setting up emergency services because they are overwhelmed and of course spout out all the information that comes from the Center for Disease Control hourly. Sometimes it almost sounds like when the weather people are forcasting a hurricane that is coming. The flu, like the hurricane, starts somewhere, usually in the east or south, and moves west. What its path will be, how it will gain strength and where it will fall apart, no one seems to know. We often seem to have as many warnings that it will be big, but then it peters out. Television news producers love this kind of thing. They have lots of people to talk to, with lots of different opinions, and lots of hype to go along with it.
But there is something missing. With all the advice they give, no one tells us how to ascertain when we are better. I know that seems simple. You should just feel better. But there should be signs. As for me, I guess I am not over it yet because I just feel a little less worse that I did when it was raging through my system.
But I am maintaining there are signs that it is ending; definite signs that no one talks about. So here I am to give those who are presently in the depths of the disease right now a little hope. And the things I am about to relate apply to all kinds of flu, not just this years strain.
•First, you know you are getting better when you can start to smell yourself. Okay, maybe I am being a little too straight forward here, but when you have the flu, you just don't care much about hygene. You lay in the bed in pajamas you haven't changed in four days or slouch in front of the television on the living room couch in your sweat pants and sweat shirt, not worrying about anyone else but yourself. I have learned over the years that at the beginning of the illness family members stay away from you because they might catch what you have; after a few days they do it because they can't stand the stench. But when you start to detect it, you know you are on the way to recovery.
•Taking that first shower after days of convalescense is a trip. It will also tell you if you are really still sick, and some of those signs show up before you are actually well too. For instance, if the thought of getting a nice warm shower is outweighed by the fact that at some point you will have to turn the water off and step out into the cold cruel world of the bathroom tile and you will consequently start to shiver, you probably are not well yet. However if the thought of a a nice warm shower means you think you will actually feel better afterward, then you are nearing recovery.
•As you near the end of the illness, junk food starts to sound good again. When you find you are fed up with homemade chicken soup and want to drink something other than fruit juice, you will also start craving a Big Mac or a pizza piled with cheese and pepperoni. And beer now sounds like a beverage, instead of a brother to ipecac.
•The ongoing maze of episodes of Law and Order that started with the inaugural season in 1990 that you have been watching one after another on Netflix during your convalescense starts to seem a little stale. The fact you are are clear up to the 1998 season may also have something to do with it. From now on if you see one episode of those first eight seasons it will remind you of barf.
•You are tired of having the dog sit by you all the time. Now I seldom get tired of dogs because I love them so much. But during a bout with the flu they like you better than anyone else because you haven't taken a bath. When you start to realize that you miss human beings, who don't spend half their time trying to sniff you, you are nearing the end.
•The recliner no longer has the appeal of relaxation it did during the height of your illness. At some points while having the flu, you wouldn't care if you were laying on a bale of poison ivy, as long as you could lay down. Now, as you end your illness, those places you had to sit and lay down on for so long, will not be the places you want to be for a few days. My recliner and I have definitely had a falling out.
•While you were sick with the flu and the UPS or Fed Ex guy showed up with a package and knocked on the door, you say, "Go away." When you are starting to get over the flu you get up and go to the door and pick up the package because you wonder what your wife has purchase on-line now. However, you still know better than to open it.
There are also externals signs. People no longer say "Well I hope you get better soon" or "That's terrible. You stay home until you are well." Instead you hear "When are you going back to work" or "You look like you you feel better. When are you going to (insert any dozens of things you need to do)?"
Finally, a good sign is when you look in the mirror you really are appalled at how old you are getting and how bad you look. Of course little can be done about that, and it was actually the same before you had the flu, but you'd like to think the illness caused it. Combing hair, or what you have left of it, improves your mood almost immediately.