I am just now getting over a bout with the flu, something that I do not recommend to anyone or even wish on my worst enemy. After missing a week of work, my health is improving, but my head is still making me feel like a zombie plus this cough & congestion is taking forever to leave. I write my experience for personal archival purposes. I couldn’t find anyone’s experiences of going through the flu.
I assume everyone’s experiences are different, so I’m sure it’s documented somewhere, but in my headache-induced nights of insomnia, I must have been searching in the wrong places. I could not find a connection with those who have/are experiencing the flu.
Here, a collection of thoughts in a timeline-ish sense of what I experienced from January 7 to 13, 2013. These thoughts include brief moments jotted down in my notes app, memory of the pain, and the crying that is still ringing in my ears.
DAY 1 – MONDAY: THE BEGINNING OF THE END
So Sunday night was nothing spectacularly out of the ordinary. I was folding laundry and those in the house were sluggishly getting ready for bed before the new week was set to begin. Then, in a sudden flash of wonder, a fever came over me for no apparent reason. I convinced myself that it was probably my body trying to tell me to go to bed.
I fell asleep, but on Monday morning my fever was still there, all over my body: my feet, my hands, my torso, my neck. I felt exhausted and could not move out of bed. I sat up to try to get up & ready for work. My body felt so warm yet I shook with cold shivers traveling up and down my frame. I texted my boss that I did not think I was going to make it to work.
All day. I had a fever all day.
I am not sure why it did not occur to me to take a thermometer to my mouth. Regardless, I stayed under the covers all day. It was not until the evening–it was already dark out–that my fever broke. I figured I was probably suffering from allergies. Another few hours of sleep, and I should be good to go to work.
DAY 2 – TUESDAY: CONGESTION & LIME
The next morning, the fever was gone, but my head was pounding with congestion. “Oh… a sinus infection,” I thought to myself! The oh, so strong headache made me feel like I could not open my eyes. I sneezed a storm. I blew my nose over and over again. I called in to work… again. I fell asleep… all day.
When I woke up in the evening, I was still having trouble breathing from either nostril. Sometimes, one sinus cavity is congested and the other is an open passageway to breathe. I remember both nostrils and sinuses being stopped up so that I could not breathe at all.
One idea the family recommended was to squeeze lime juice in my nostrils to let the citric acid get rid of some of the excess buildup (or something). This is not a therapy I recommend… lightly, but after SEVERAL attempts, I managed to get a few drops up my nostrils. Those drops that did not make it in, felt like it burned the raw part of skin around my nose that was constantly pressed up against tissue paper. I sneezed and coughed violently, which in turn brought tears to my eyes and even more headaches. “Never again,” I told myself, “will I put lime drops in my nose.”
And, yet, later that night, as I drifted into a slumber, I noticed BOTH my nostrils had cleared. I was able to breathe more easily… to breathe using my nose instead of just my mouth. Damned limones!
DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY: THE DIAGNOSIS
On Wednesday morning, I was determined to get my butt to work! I had already missed two days. I woke up at 5 a.m. and slithered to the bathroom to get ready my morning rituals. By the time I finished my brushing of the teeth, washing of my face, brushing of the hair, and placing of the contacts, I hurried back to the bedroom to finish dressing.
As I crawled back in a hurry to finish getting ready, I imagined myself as a sloth with slow, meticulous movements. I let out a chuckle, which turned into a loud guffaw/cough that hurt my throat, head, and chest at the same time.
I took a moment to breathe, got dressed, and sat back down on the bed. It was now 6:30 a.m. Alex sat up, looked at me, and said, “Luis, go back to sleep. You look awful. Call in, and I’ll take you to urgent care when the clinic opens at 8 a.m.”
“No,” I protested, “I have already missed too much work.” Then my body limped over to the pillow and before long, I was under the covers. I called in to work to explain another absence, but I guess no one is awake around 6:30… or at least they aren’t answering the phone.
Around 8:30 a.m., I checked in to an urgent care facility. “I think I must have a sinus infection,” I explained.
They asked me a few questions. “It sounds like you might have the flu,” said the nurse. When the doctor entered, he asked me similar questions and said basically the same thing. “We are seeing a lot of patients in your similar situation.”
They swabbed my nostrils to test for the flu. POSITIVE: TYPE B INFLUENZA. I did not know what that meant, but apparently I had the flu. I was to be given a steroid shot, Tamiflu, the Z-Pack, and some cough syrup. Ugh.
The shot: on my left or right arm? “Oh, no,” smiles the nurse. “This one goes on the gluteus maximus… your left butt-cheek.”
The Tamiflu: SUCKS. It makes you nauseous, forces you to vomit, and causes disorientation/confusion. I answered “I don’t know” so many times to questions like: “How do you feel? Are you hungry? Are you cold? Do you want some water?” “I DON’T KNOW!”
The cough syrup: awesome! No complaints.
The Z-Pack: awesome. Cannot complain.
DAY 4 – THURSDAY: THE NAUSEA
This day was full of extremely nauseous trips to the bathroom and sleep. I had such a sharp pain on my left temple, that I thought maybe I had eaten something bad that was making me sick to my stomach. I tied a bandana tightly around my forehead, which helped ease some of the pain and I was able to sleep for longer.
DAY 5 – FRIDAY: THE HEADACHE
At 2:30 a.m., I woke up profusely sweating. I changed clothes, drank a lot of water, then went back to sleep.
At 4:45 a.m., I awoke profusely sweating again. I got up and changed to dry clothes. I wondered, “am I sweating because I’m sick, or am I sweating because I am just covering myself when in bed?” I drank more water. Nausea seemed to have taken over my sleepless morning.
I woke up again at 7:30 a.m. to get in touch with work that I would not be coming in on the final weekday. I was greeted with the knowledge that other co-workers would also be out sick as well.
Nausea and headaches were the order of the day… all day. Alex brought me some chicken noodle soup, but I could not imagine eating. I took a few sips of the soup, but I could not muster the strength or the will to continue. On top of that, Alex was watching a very depressing movie that was not helping with my overall well-being.
I took a bite of the chicken but was disgusted right away. I swallowed it and rushed myself to bed. I took a dose of Tamiflu and went to sleep.
Next thing I remember was waking up to Alex bringing me some kiwi fruit. I ate it. I noticed my head still hurting, not too badly though. It was time to try some hot tea. I took a few sips. We started watching something on the iPad, but before too long I was praying to the porcelain throne… again.
The rest of the day I felt better… still with a linger of a headache, but much, much less. At dinner, I ate two bowlfuls of chicken noodle soup.
Now Alex was showing signs of being sick. Maybe it was just a cold, but his symptoms were not as severe as mine.
DAY 6 – SATURDAY: WHERE AM I?
On Saturday, I woke up around 7 a.m., drenched in sweaty clothes. I changed tees, then noticed a minor headache, but it was now bothering the right side of my forehead instead of my left.
I slept all day.
DAY 7 – SUNDAY: THE END OF THE END?
By Sunday, I still had a lingering headache, but much less than before. I was able to stand and walk around more. Going up and down the stairs was not so much hard work this time.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. My nutshell of an experience of the Flu of 2013. This is the first year in a long time that I skipped the flu vaccine. I had always been one to advocate for inoculation with the flu shot, but for some reason I skipped it this year.
Please stay healthy and warm, wash your hands often, try to avoid those who cough & sneeze in public, and drink plenty of fluids. I am no doctor, but I would rather you avoid getting sick with a cold or the flu.