If this column is of shorter length than usually found in this space, it’s because the topic is one with which everyone can agree. Getting the flu stinks.
Having been struck with flu-like conditions for more than a week at this writing, the negative byproducts are still holding sway. Fatigue, inability to concentrate and all of that fun kind of stuff tend to dominate the creative process and put it back into a winter slumber. In other words, wake me when it’s over — whenever that is.
Yet the demands of facing a weekly deadline, not to mention the daily tasks of helping keep house, take out the trash and bring in the newspaper (thank goodness for the orange wrapper sticking out of the snow), make that desire pretty impossible, no matter how bad you feel. Somehow, and in keeping with prescribed methods of fighting the bug, you arise in the morning after having self-medicated the night before on Coricidin, NyQuil and other weapons in the anti-flu armory. You start the day, perform what chores there are and retreat to a comfy chair, all in the hopes this will be the final day of the bug’s unsolicited occupation of your body.
There are numerous and practical methods of avoiding flu, but not so many when it comes to dealing with it when it gets here. Coping with the aforementioned lack of energy, achiness and damming up rampant sinuses become the primary goal, robbing you of any desire to do any of the things you normally enjoy. Here you are, at home and with time to pursue reading, sewing, scrapbooking, taxidermy, etc., but you’re too sick to engage in any of those activities, let alone do your job if you make it into work. Music is helpful in offering a break as are other electronic means of distraction, but television can sometimes offer little in the way of diversion or relief.
Some cable channels are quite fond of airing James Bond movies around this time of the year, which are all inevitably set in warm climates with impossibly fit actors exerting themselves physically and otherwise without even breaking a sweat. No disrespect to Sean Connery, Roger Moore or your own particular favorite as 007, but didn’t any of these guys have a down day? Even a headache? Or is there really something in having your martinis shaken, not stirred?
What’s that? Don’t watch them? Okay, but daytime TV can be pretty horrifying to behold, as a few viewings of Jerry Springer and the like have proven. But that’s a subject for another day.
But if you happen to have the flu and you’re already taking care of a family member or members who have it (and in all likelihood gave it to you), well, filling your time isn’t an issue. Ministering to, medicating and making comfortable a loved one is a necessity no matter how badly you feel. It’s not only compassion but self-protection. Nursing an ailing relative back to health means they may recover soon and become less likely to fall ill all over again.
And if things get worse, you’ll find emergency rooms are popular places during this flu siege, where the staff are doing their best to relieve discomfort and send you home with prescriptions for Tamiflu. Because unless the flu triggers or aggravates more serious health problems necessitating admission, there’s not much more they can do until the flu runs its course. Recent experiences in our household are proof that the need for a flu shot should not be taken lightly. Not to mention a reminder that Gallia County EMS has only a single squad available between midnight and 8 a.m. But Portsmouth Ambulance has our appreciation for answering 9-1-1’s call for assistance.
And how much longer can we expect the flu to last? An Associated Press report of last weekend voiced hope that the current strain might have peaked, which sounds okay until you realize it’s not over and given the unpredictable nature of the beast, it could linger as long as the winter.
So the best advice if you’ve got the flu, and don’t want to give it to anyone else, is to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands after having contact with same, employ Lysol on things and surfaces that are frequently touched (phones, remotes, glasses, etc.) and ride it out.
More importantly, if you don’t have flu, protect yourself as best you can by using the same methods, getting plenty of rest and ensuring you system doesn’t fall prey to the bug. And get that flu shot. Even some armor is better than none.
Stay healthy, all.
Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.