2.24.2008

The flu--stay far, far away from it, if you know what's good for you!

I write to you from Day 5 of what seems to be the flu. At least, that's what my aunt (a nurse) unofficially diagnosed me as having.

This has to be the most boring blog post in the history of the universe, but please, indulge me just this once. Or, skip it if you can't indulge me.

Symptoms started out as stuffy head, dizziness, severe exhaustion, and nausea (the nausea was only on the subway coming home from work, though, on Wednesday--I didn't feel so hot going into work on Wednesday morning, either, but who ever does?). I left work early on Wednesday, came home, and fell into bed, sleeping from 8:30 pm to 8:30 am. I still didn't feel great on Thursday--I was a little achy in addition to the other symptoms, and I thought that if I stayed home on Thursday, I might get better quicker, so I called in sick on Thursday. I thought it was just a bad cold, and felt sort of silly for calling in sick for a cold, but my throat was hurting, and my head, and I couldn't see going into work. I bought some over-the-counter decongestants on Thursday, as well as a thermometer. I did not have a fever (actually, my temp was 97.9 F, which I thought made sense because I thought I had a cold) and the decongestants helped with the stuffy head, while acetaminophen helped with the general achiness. I felt marginally better on Friday morning, so I went to work. Along the way, I stopped at the drugstore to get some cough drops, hoping they would help with the sore throat and hacking cough. I was so tired when I went into the drugstore that I considered asking someone if there was a place where I could sit down there, but I pulled it together and made it out of there on my own two feet. After two hours of surprisingly productive work, I was bone-tired, but I felt like I had come all that way and had already taken a sick day (and a half), I should really put in a few more hours, so I did.

I was still tired on Friday night, but I went to shul and then out to dinner and then to bed. I felt pretty good on Shabbat morning. I woke up (relatively) early, went to shul, and sat there, blowing my nose. When I tried to walk home, though, the exhaustion hit me and almost bowled me over. I thought about stopping to sit on a few stoops along the way, but figured it was better to just push through the exhaustion and go home, where I could sleep. I got home, ate lunch (I was hungry), and got into bed. I got out of bed to make havdalah at 7:30, and then went to the drugstore for more tissues (Puffs Plus, with lotion, which I normally abhor for their mildly greasy feel, but which are necessary when you're blowing your nose as many times an hour as I am) and more over-the-counter cold medicine. I was going to see how I felt after going to the drugstore (literally a block from my house), in the hopes that I would feel well enough to go to the supermarket (ten blocks from my house) to get some sorbet, but I only made it as far as the local convenience store, where I picked up a popsicle and went out into the icy cold to eat it. The freezing slushy mango goodness sliding down my throat felt heavenly. That outing really exhausted me, though. I got home and sat down on the couch, too tired to even get into bed. I sat there for a few hours, curled up under my long down coat, and finally got into bed at around 11.

I woke up a bunch of times in the middle of the night last night. Once, I woke up freezing cold, teeth literally chattering in a way that mine really never do. Funny, because when I went to sleep last night, I was sweating. I still thought I had a cold, though.

I woke up for good at 11:30 this morning, hoping I would feel better. I took a shower, which felt okay, but when I got out, I thought I was going to have to brush my teeth sitting down, that's how exhausted I was. The shower just wiped me out. After the shower, I realized that there was no way that I was going to be able to go out and buy ingredients for chicken soup, never mind stand to clean the chicken and wash and cut the vegetables. I also called to offer regrets about a goodbye party that I was going to have to miss. It was clear that I was not going to be leaving the house today.

I got back into bed and spent some time talking to people on the phone, accompanied by intermittent sweating spells. I tried reading, but my head hurt way too much. It felt--feels, actually--like someone tied a band around my head and is squeezing it tighter and tighter. There is also a sort of stabbing pain behind my eyes. My throat is still sore, my nose is still stuffy, and my ears hurt a little. I slept for maybe two hours this afternoon, but I'm not terribly sleepy, it's just that my body has no energy and I can't move. So I've been staring at the ceiling a lot.

My roommate bought me chicken soup ingredients today, as well as a more accurate thermometer, and it turns out that I'm a bit over 100 degrees F. That makes more sense, given the sweating and the chills, than previous readings. I hope I'll have energy to make chicken soup sometime soon, like tomorrow. That's really the only thing I'm seriously craving, but making it requires more energy than I currently have. (This is why God invented mothers. Too bad that mine is so far away. And thank you for taking care of me so well when I was sick as a kid!)

I never get a flu shot because I've never gotten the flu before. (Also, I am not among the population for whom it is recommended to get a flu shot. I'm 28 years old and do not have a compromised immune system or work with the elderly.) Now that I know what it is--this utter exhaustion that's keeping me tied to my bed except to get up to refill my water glass with watered-down apple juice and the coughing and the sharp, painful headache--maybe I will consider getting a flu shot in the future (even though it might not have helped with this particular flu).

I once told someone that I wasn't sure if I'd ever gotten the flu, and she said that if I had it, I would know it. Based on that, I was under the impression that if you had the flu, you'd know it wasn't just a cold. And here I was, thinking that it was a cold for first four days!

I am calling the doctor in the morning, just to check in, and then calling in sick to work, unless I feel miraculously better. I have jury duty in two days, on Tuesday, which worries me somewhat. I will have to Google around and see what you're supposed to do if you have jury duty and the flu. If I feel on Tuesday anything like I feel now, it will be impossible for me to get into the subway and go downtown, even just to wait and have them tell me that they don't need me. I guess I will see if I can reschedule.

I will leave off with a link to Shel Silverstein's poem, "Sick," about Little Peggy Ann McKay. I love this poem. Today, I am really feeling this part of it:
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My whole body hurts, and I am ready to be better!

Thank you all for indulging me, and I hope you don't catch it.

9 comments:

katrina said...

Feel better, alg!

BZ said...

Get better soon!

alg's mother said...

I imagine that they don't give flu shots to 20-something people until they are sure they have enough for the frailer population.

I can sure identify with you, though, and poo-pooed (sp?) the flu shot, even though I was entitled to it, until one year when I got the flu. The following year I was one of the first in line for the shot.

Wish I could make you chicken soup. Feel better soon!

ALG said...

Thanks, everyone!

EAR said...

Feel better! I totally empathize-- I had the flu two winters ago and it was pretty spectacular.
Refuah shleimah!

JR said...

They slot non-risky groups to November or so, and I've managed to get a flu shot every year.

They don't protect against everything, but may decrease the length or severity --- I've had the flu twice in the past decade, both in the past 4 months and from travel. (Israel-Germany-US flight, and NY probably an oncologist.)

Kate said...

It's been a terrible terrible flu season. The epidemiologists mis-guessed when they chose the strains for the vaccine, which means that lots of people who were vaccinated (small children, elderly, health care workers) are still getting sick and/or passing the virus to the people around them.

Hope you feel better soon!

ALG said...

Thanks again, everyone!

JR, I probably caught this at the airport in Atlanta. That makes the most sense because the people I was visiting there didn't get the flu, and nobody I know here has the flu.

Update: Yesterday, Day 6, was pretty sucky. I hit 102.7 degrees F. I went to the doctor. She officially diagnosed me with the flu and ruled out strep and meningitis.

Today, Day 7, has me between 99.8 and 100.3 degrees F. Feeling a bit more chipper. Read the second half of a novel. Stayed in bed all day and the shower I took this evening still wiped me out. At this rate, I don't know how I'll get back to work. If a shower exhausts me, how am I going to walk across Central Park, to a job that requires some running around and late hours? I guess that's something to worry about whenever I wake up without a fever at all, which is the first day I'll consider going back.

Miriam said...

we had a HORRIBLE flu right after we got back from our honeymoon. First time getting sick together as marrieds. Kinda romantic actually. This year's flu really sucked. I feel for you. PS Golan Hts shwarma place has decent chicken soup and lentil soup during the winter.