The friggin’ flu

If it feels like at least one person in this house has been sick since school started, that’s because I think it’s true.

It started when I was plagued by a cold SLASH seasonal allergies. I use the slash because I couldn’t figure out which it was, or if it was both. All I know is that (A) fall allergies are the WORST allergies of the year for me, and (B) it felt very cold-like, too.

I think I decided it was a cold when our daughter, C, caught it. She was really sick for about week, except it was like she had a cold and the flu because she was a snotty mess but also a feverish one. As in, like, fever that wouldn’t go away for like five days. We used the thermometer on her hourly.

Sick, but happy to have lost another tooth!

Our son, D, caught whatever she had *just* as she was getting better, as is The Way Our Family Does Sicknesses. He also had the fever that wouldn’t leave. He was pale and sickly-looking, but didn’t have the running nose/sneezing/cold-like symptoms that C’d had.

Sick, but happy to be babysitting a new puppy

(I should mention that while they both normally LOVE liquid Children’s Tylenol and are delighted whenever they get a dose, they were both so sick of taking it — along with liquid Children’s Advil — that they’d cry every time they needed a dose.)

D was officially “better” (i.e. at least 24 hours out from any fever + feeling good) last Sunday, and BOOM! That’s when it hit me. Slight fever. Feeling unwell. Headache.

Naturally, I convinced myself that I was probably fine and was “fighting it off.”

I mean, MY FLU SHOT IS SCHEDULED! How unfair would it be to get the friggin’ flu mere weeks before getting the flu shot that I get every single year?!

I powered through Monday and Tuesday, feeling crappy but not convinced I was actually that sick. You know, Mom-style.

Me, on Tuesday evening. Not feeling great, but in denial.

It was only on Wednesday morning that I realized, oh wow, I think this is probably not going away and everything hurts and I hate this.

One lovely neighbour stepped in for choir pick-up and another helped with band pick-up, and I just … stayed home. I worked as much as I could. Tried to drink liquids. Felt sorry for myself.

I was still sick on Thursday.

It was even worse.

I did only the work that had to be done. I told myself that once I finished X number of phone calls, I could curl up in a quilt and watch an episode of The Affair. Then I’d drag myself back to the desk to write an email. Then another episode.

Writing ANYTHING took far longer than normal, as I moved weak fingers across the keyboard and tried not to sweat into a sick little puddle.

It was the hardest in the afternoons and evenings, when the kids were home and Darling Husband was at work. I concentrated on doing the bare minimum amount of work to feed the kids. I let them have a crap-ton of screen time because it kept them quiet.

I Googled “2019 flu symptoms” occasionally just to make sure that’s what I had, and it wasn’t actually the bubonic plague.

The hours passed in awful, shivery, feverish blurs.

Oh and just to make it REALLY FUN, the friggin’ flu also gave me viral conjunctivitis which is the nice way of saying “pink eye.”

Me on Thursday. I added a “Zombie” filter but honestly, it didn’t really need it.

I was still sick on Friday.

The one-two punch of fever-and-chills was still coming regularly, every four hours, and was only tamped down by popping Advil or Tylenol or drinking a strange cold/flu syrup (heavy on the acetaminophen) that Darling Husband picked up for me at the drugstore.

I Googled “crackling in lungs” and “popping sound in lungs,” and eventually decided I probably didn’t have pneumonia but just a little fluid. (I am quite proud of my Google MD skills.)

I couldn’t walk the kids to the bus stop. (They went alone.)

I couldn’t pick them up. (They came back alone.)

(I repeatedly felt VERY grateful that, at seven and nine, they’re independent enough that I can let them do that.)

I couldn’t drink tea. It didn’t taste right. I could look at the time and think, yup, makes sense that I’m starting to freeze but my head is burning up — it’s been three hours and forty-five minutes since I last took something. I could cough (hack, really) so violently that it felt like my chest would explode.

Darling Husband couldn’t deny he was sick, too (although I was sicker, as I weakly reminded him when I needed something). He stayed home from work on Friday night to take care of me and the kids. THANK GOD.

I was still sick on Saturday.

I don’t remember much, other than watching more episodes of The Affair, trying to find something I was willing to eat (weight loss is the only nice side effect of this beastly flu), and that I felt like I was never, ever going to get better. My life now revolved around Advil or Tylenol every four hours, and pink eye drops four times a day.

Yesterday (Sunday), I was feeling slightly better!

Not good, by any means, but I didn’t have a fever or chills — which felt like a huge win — and I didn’t take any medication until I popped a few Tylenol at bedtime.

I had absolutely no energy.

My body hurt walking up and down the stairs. My chest hurt. The idea of ever managing a Zumba class again in my LIFE felt laughable. Life was nothing but tall staircases and painful, aching limbs.

I did, however, feel well enough to be annoyed at the piles of dirty dishes and the unwiped counters, so that was a sure sign I was getting better — even if I didn’t have the energy to do something about it.

I woke up this morning (Monday) feeling the most normal I had in over a week. No fever. No chills. My eyes were clear. My cough wasn’t too bad. I put on real clothes (yay) including a bra (boo) for the first time since Wednesday morning. I made myself scrambled eggs.

I even tottered my way down the street, two houses away, to feed our neighbours’ cat. It felt strange to be outside. Had the wind always been that strong? I blinked behind my sunglasses and felt a bit like Howard Hughes.

Today (Monday), with real clothes and zero energy

I’m chugging Fresca and ice in my travel mug, instead of tea. I can’t explain it.

I’m getting more work done than I have since early last week. It feels good.

I’m still coughing a little, still slow to walk around and climb the stairs, but I can feel myself getting better.

I’m slowly returning to real life.

This flu, you guys, is a BAD ONE.

Please, please, please get the flu shot.

(I’ll be getting mine on Oct. 21, but I’m sure I’ll scowl at it for being TOO LATE.)

Please be prepared for the flu if it DOES strike your household this season. For us, that means being stocked up on the following:

  • Thermometer (we like the ear variety)
  • Children’s dye-free Advil and/or Tylenol (liquid)
  • Adult extra-strength Tylenol and Advil
  • Advil Cold & Sinus Plus (I swear by whatever the “plus” is)
  • Medicated Pink Eye Drops (because you never know)
  • Sore throat lozenges
  • Tissues (nah, just kidding, we’re millennials who use TP)
  • Crackers (for when you have to eat something but don’t wanna)
  • Cans of chicken noodle/rice soup
  • Juice/Fresca/7-Up

As one of the first victims of the 2019/2020 flu season, I feel the need to go full Chicken Little on you. The sky is falling! The flu is coming!

I hope it doesn’t get you, but if it does — and, if you have germy school-aged children, it probably will — I wish you well.

Send me a text and I’ll drop a bottle of Fresca on your front porch.

2 Comments on “The friggin’ flu

  1. Love this PSA for the flu shot! As an immunocomprimised mom with one in daycare and one in elementary, and working in an office, I advocate for the flu shot for everyone! Sorry you guys all had to get it so early in the season though. I hope the shots become available soon so we can get ours scheduled. We’re dealing with daycare-itis which is not fun either. Here’s to a flu free rest of the season!

    • Thank you, Megan! I am VERY pro flu shot and have been ever since I was pregnant with our first. (Before that, I think I was just young and dumb.) Sending you healthy vibes!

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