Get Off My Lawn

I can't tell if he's laughing or crying.

This Was No Man Cold Part 2

To this day I can’t decide which was worse: the fever or the feeling of razor blades in my lungs. That first day the flu hit, my body was wracked with wave after wave of fever. It’s a kind of misery that I can’t describe. It would last ten to fifteen minutes and the intensity was unbearable, but when it finally subsided my relief was minimal; I would become cold to the bone and sit dreading the next wave, which would come as regular as clockwork. I guess the one thing I could be grateful for is that I wasn’t vomiting.

In some ways, to my wife, I became an improved version of myself–I drank tea, I cranked up the heat, and I took long, hot baths. Baths? Who does this guy think he is, Winston Churchill?* I kept a garbage bag beside me that I regularly filled with mucousy Kleenex. My skin hurt. My bones hurt. My hair hurt. But my lungs hurt worst of all.

I'm pretty sure I this dude roaming the halls of my building.

I’m pretty sure I saw this dude roaming the halls of my building.

I had what felt like two cups of water and a dozen razor blades occupying the space where my lungs should have been. I had to sleep sitting up in a recliner because the second I lay down I felt as though I was drowning. I couldn’t take a deep breath and at times I couldn’t take a shallow breath, and that scared me. At about four in the morning on day six or seven, I was panicking and scared; I couldn’t breathe. It was the first time I ever thought, “I think I’m going to die.” I got Maureen up and we walked across the street and down about half a block to the emergency room of the University Hospital.

This is what it looked like on my walk to the emergency room during the breakout.

This is what it looked like on my walk to the emergency room during the epidemic.

Everyone there was in for the same thing: H1N1. I was seen by the doctor and by this time I was able to breathe without the sensation of drowning. The doctor prescribed me Tamiflu, and they just had it right there in the exam room and were giving it out directly to save the patient from going to a pharmacy, which would not only be miserable but might facilitate the spreading of the virus. The doctor said that at this point Tamiflu probably wouldn’t do much and I’d just have to ride it out. He said that if I’d gone immediately to the emergency room and gotten on Tamiflu right away, I might have headed it off. This was the exact opposite of what we were told in the news and public health notices, which said if we got sick, stay indoors; don’t go to the emergency room as there’s nothing they can do.

So I went home and rode it out. I was sick for almost three weeks. I couldn’t speak and it felt like I had sandpaper in my throat. At the tail end of my flu I contracted a bronchial/sinus infection and was able to squirt pus out of my tear ducts; it looked like the world’s most disgusting cookie dough. For this ailment I was able to go to my regular doctor and get an antibiotic.

My lungs took a long time to repair. It felt like they’d been burnt and slashed, and even walking up a short flight of stairs left me breathless. But I did recover, and in the process I gained a whole lot of humility and a newfound respect and gratitude for my health.


*Winston Churchill was known for taking long baths so hot it turned his skin pink. 

Categories: Humour, Personal

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53 replies

  1. Sounds horrible, but I had pneumonia once and thought I’d never recover so it was probably similar. Pus or mucus in your eyes? Extra gross TMI. Did your wife want to take care of you or did she think it was payback for the years of thinking you were “above” getting sick?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That kind of experience gives you a newfound compassion for other people in pain, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. i never feel sorry for a man when he’s sick. just a bunch of wusses. but for this…you get my deepest sympathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My God that sounds like a nightmare. Like, that’s not a version of the flu I’ve ever read. I’ve had flu, two of my kids had flu, but it was nothing like that. I’m so very very sorry that you had to suffer like that. It must have been one humbling experience. The breathing thing…ugh.
    I particularly enjoyed the scene outside the hospital, by the by.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh wow… that is awful John.. so glad to hear you are feeling better… do you normally get a flu shot!!
    Pus out your tear ducts… gross, but entirely possible with sinus infections… hope you continue onwards and

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had it while 8 mo pregnant. The pregnant women were the ones dying. Did you hear me complaining? No, sir. I went back to work full time after being afebrile for 48 hrs. The pus from the tear ducts sounds cool, though. ;-P

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, my. That doesn’t sound anything like the flu we all know and love. So sorry, John, glad that is all behind you now. It does make you appreciate the simple things in life…like breathing. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s terrible. It was a horrible virus, and many ended up with secondary bacterial infections like you did. Sounds like you were close to needing hospitalization. I guess the only good news is you should have some nice immunity to that strain now.

    By the way, your descriptions of your ailments were so good, I might have to consult you in my next infectious disease novel! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What is it with you and a pus-filled body John? Yuck. That really does sound horrible and as Carrie said, I’m surprised that you weren’t admitted, or that you managed on your own to get past the stage of admittance and on to slowly getting better. Thankfully you were younger, and I assume healthy or you might have been one of those ‘old person statistics’ we read about.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Damn. That sounds awful. The powers that be should excuse you from being sick for at least a couple decades.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds like you had flu as well as bacterial infection. It’s the flu not a cold if you get a high fever,and sudden onset of severe symptoms like sore throat, cough, cold, congestion and maybe vomiting and diarrhea and Chinese. Flu feels like you got hit by a truck, and is not gradual onset. Get to doctor as soon as possible. Hope you are better.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I “liked” this post. That doesn’t make me jumping for joy that you got sick. Pleased to hear that you made it through. I too am one that rarely get sick. I was going to write never but I don’t want to tempt fate.
    You do enjoy talking of the gross side of illness. I could have done without the icky description of your tear duct excretions. But hey it’s your story. 🙂
    Welcome back to the land of the living.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Why did you have to tell us about the cookie dough coming out of your eyes. I was full of sympathy for your chicken man flu but now that image is engraved on my retinas. So gross! Tell Maureen she has my sympathy for not divorcing you right then, 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. That’s a terrible case of H1N1 you had got. Do you realise you could have died if you were older or weaker. That’s like another chance. Scary.


  15. Keep all baths (and showers) to 20 minutes. Any longer and you weaken the body. Too much of anything becomes its reverse. I know you won’t EVER get sick again (right??) but if you do and find yourself literally dying to do anything to crawl out of it again, write the holistic mama. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m a firm believer in the hot bath–whether it is a man cold or swine flu rule # is to get into the bathtub, make the water as hot as i can get it, crank up a space heater, and go fugue state in old clawfoot. It little beads of perspiration aren’t rising from my pores, add more hot water! Last time I had a cold, I slept in there for 6 hours–drinking room temperature water from a gallon jug every so often, until it was gone. I figure: if the fever wants to burn the disease out of me, why fight it? I know the holistic lady will be appalled, but I seemed to suffer no ill effects besides a very, very dry and withered underside.

    As for symptoms, I’d rather have a fever or even puke and crap myself inside out with a hard flu than get one of those little colds that leave two weeks of hacking cough behind. Plus, I love that moment when the fever breaks, the skin floods with that last, purifying sweat storm, leaving me feeling exhausted but clean.

    Your experience sounds hell-borne. During the years my children were in primary school, I experienced as least one knock-down killer bout of viral something every year, but before that I could count on my hand the times I’d been sick like that: 2002 started the annual rite, that petered off a decade later, but before that it had been…1993, just after the great blizzard, and 1984, missed a week of school.. twice in two decades. The rest was just sniffles.

    Here’s hoping you have another 10 years of clean health, but if you’ve got young kids….

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jeez sounds like a brutal sickness. I just got over a bad 1 1/2 week flu where I ended up taking baths as well, something I haven’t done in my adult life outside of a hotel room! What you suffered through sounded much worse though. Love that leathery bird pic by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Haaahahh. I’m not too bright today. Great post!


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