Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Man Flu

This past November my work held its yearly influenza vaccination. As usual, I was compliant and partook of this event. I try to be as compliant as possible with medical issues; it is one of the few things in my life that I am actually compliant about. So imagine my surprise when this past Friday I left work early because I felt like total crap. Then, on Saturday when I still felt like the dried crusty mud that cakes the stand pipes of the overflow river basins, I had to call in to work because I knew I wouldn’t be able to ride in let alone function at not just one but both jobs. Sunday came and the waning of the sun from morning to afternoon brought my aches, pains and coughing to higher levels.
            Soon, I was sitting in an ER of a local hospital trying to describe my symptoms as a nurse shoved a five inch long cotton swab up my nose in an attempt to locate my brain. (In all actuality she was testing for the flu, but it felt like the damn thing touched an optical nerve. My left leg kicked out involuntarily and I felt as if I were being tortured by some medieval inquisitor.) A few moments later, I was half naked in a private room waiting for a doctor to show up and inspect my body.
            In less than twenty minutes the doctor, a large man in his late fifties, was standing in front of my telling me my influenza test was positive. He then proceeded to poke and prod me in a gentle but firm manner. After which he prescribed me medicine and pretty much a week away from the world by being quarantined in my own home. His reasoning, so I don’t spread my germs freely yet against my own will. I was in no shape to argue with his logic, but I will say I was unhappy with his sequestration of my work life.
            When I mentioned to the grandfatherly medical man that I had received the flu vaccine not more than three months earlier he informed me “You have type “A” influenza, there are at least three types of flu and the vaccinations are only for one type of virus.” I apparently caught one of the other bugs. I expressed my unhappiness and was informed that I should be grateful I had the vaccination or I would be in much worse condition. I did not want to think about being in worse condition.
            What followed next were four more days of sleep, food, sleep, medicine, sleep, shower, sleep and more sleep. Truth be told I lost track of time and days of the week. My sectional couch became my bed and the television my constant companion. I tried to read, I tried to surf the web, I tried to text and even tried to hold conversations… all to no avail. My mind wandered, exhaustion filled every pore of my body and when I did manage to wander more than ten feet from my respite, I found myself dizzy and doubled over in a coughing fit reminiscent of  the whooping cough plague of the early 20th century. Oh what joy. Oh what pleasure. Oh what a total degradation of humanity.
            Today, Thursday, my fourth day of internment, I woke up, felt almost human and made my way about my day. I even felt good enough to poke my head outside for a few moments. I then sat down and opened the laptop only to realize that in my fugue state of the past week I’d actually been productive in doing some pre-reading/editing for a writer pal of mine. As I read through my comments and insights, I laughed, I cried and I cringed. Then I shrugged my shoulders and figured, “What the hell, may as well finish this favor.” So I plowed on and within several hours I completed the task, emailed it off and felt good about what I’ve done.
            My sense of satisfaction for completing a job led me to step outside for a few moments, take a few puffs of a cigar and make a phone call. Much to my chagrin, my wife opens the front door and begins to scold me for my Neanderthal behavior. I finished my cigar and my phone call, then went inside. I was greeted by an almost surly yet exasperated spouse. I tried to work my charms on her and eventually she smiled.
            I know I’m still not completely well, to tell the truth, I don’t think I ever will be. I know I won’t always make the best decisions even when I’m at my best. I know this down in the pit of my being, and when called out about my sophomoric/moronic behavior I just shrug my shoulders and say “I’m just a man.”

            Have a great week.

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