Friday, April 01, 2011

Learn From My Fail

Every year, my boss asks me if I'm getting the flu shot, and every year I scoff at him. I have an immune system made of steel and I haven't had the flu in well over a decade. I don't need a flu shot because I'm not going to get the flu, I reason, and as such I'll just skip it and keep the $30 for myself thank you very much. Historically this method has always worked. Unfortunately, what this method doesn't take into account is that extreme stress, such as the unbelievable work and relationship related stress I've been dealing with since the beginning of the year, can and will weaken your immune system. My steel defenses have become more similar to swiss cheese defenses so far this year - through mid March I had already gone through three colds and/or sinus infections. A week and a half after the last one I finally succumbed to the flu.

I didn't even see it coming. I'd been in very good form on Saturday. I got up early, took the cat to the vet, picked up a prescription, put some boxes in storage, dropped off my laundry, bought an Easter dress and did a 45 minute workout all before 2:00 pm. The bartender ordered pizza for dinner and we ate it watching two brilliant college basketball games which both had piss poor outcomes. Shortly after 9:00 pm, I very suddenly became completely exhausted. Because unlike a cold that starts with the sniffles and builds into a full blown illness, the flu prefers to just sneak up on you and clobber you over the head with everything it's got.

"Imma fuck you up."

I was startled at how tired I suddenly was, which is to say I was tired enough to get in bed at 9:30 on a Saturday night. At which point, I immediately realized I was starting to run a fever. And that I had a terrible chest rattling cough. And that I was in for something serious. Because from that moment until this morning, I have only gotten out of bed to pee and throw up*.

I have never, EVER been this ill before as an adult. At some point during the week, I called the comic in a fever delirium to explain that I wouldn't being seeing him in May because I was bound for death in a few short hours. He congratulated me on being sensible enough to stay home from work. Normally I'm not and will force myself to get up get things done, as per the American way. I wasn't being sensible this time either, I simply couldn't move. To go from the couch to my bed was a monumental undertaking. Making it to the kitchen was out of the question. I couldn't have gone to work even if I'd wanted to because there wasn't strength enough in my body to turn a doorknob so as to get out of the house.

I am upright and mobile now, finally, after 6 days. Sort of anyway. I still can't stand for longer than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. I get winded walking across a room. The cough still hasn't abated and my lungs feel like they're on fire. I lost 6 pounds in four days time and I look like Karen Carpenter. I never really grasped before that the flu is something thousands of people actually die from every year, but I get it now. The flu does not fuck around.

Let this be a lesson to you: just get the fucking flu shot.

*Except for the one time I got out of bed to take a shower, which did not go well. I should have taken a bath, but I'd been lying down for three days and I thought I would try being upright for a while. It lasted long enough for me to get shampoo in my hair and then I was overwhelmed. I finished my shower sitting on the bottom of the tub, dried my hair sitting on the bathroom floor, and crawled - literally - back to my bed.

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