What can I say? I've been busy.
And, amidst work, the hustle and bustle of the holidays, winter break and the usual day-to-day preoccupations, I simply forgot to get my annual flu shot.
Now I'm feeling the wrath of the microscopic-but-mighty bug that's now sweeping the nation.
Widespread flu activity has been reported in 41 states including Florida. And my household is no exception.
It began with fatigue. I put it down to too much activity over the holidays and not enough rest. Soon the fatigue was accompanied by body aches, a runny nose and headaches.
I knew I was in trouble when I awoke in the middle of the night with chills, a fever and nausea. By the following morning, those symptoms were accompanied by a sore throat and cough.
Yep, I had it -- bad.
Despite an overwhelming urge to simply suffer in bed, I forced myself to get dressed and head to the nearest walk-in clinic.
Wrong move. Apparently, doctors don't appreciate it when you spread your flu germs throughout their clinic unless your symptoms are dire. I'm talking seizures, pain in the chest or abdomen, difficulty breathing and persistent vomiting.
For the typical symptoms, there's not a lot doctors can do for you.
"Drink lots of fluids, gets lots of sleep and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve the fever and aches," my doctor instructed by rote, as if he'd given the identical advice countless times that day.
"Oh, yeah," he added. "And try not to visit places like walk-in clinics, spreading your germs."
Dutifully chastened, I asked how long I could expect to be sick.
He shrugged. "Who knows? It depends on the person -- a few days, a week, two weeks."
Feeling no better after my visit to the clinic, I crawled back into bed to hibernate and try not to think about all the things I should be doing.
And I made a vow to myself that next year I'll get the shot for sure.
What to Do If You Get the Flu
- Drink as much as you can, and I don't mean alcohol. My preference is Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng. But don't overdo caffeinated drinks because they won't keep you hydrated.
- Chances are you won't have much of an appetite but, if you can keep something down, talk your sympathetic spouse into making a mercy run to your favorite restaurant that serves homemade soups. I'm partial to The Stein & Vine on Bloomingdale Avenue, which, depending on owner Ty Mathis' whims, offers French onion, cheddar beer, leek and potato or roasted pepper soup. But I also love the homemade soups of the day at Copper Bell Cafe in Riverview and I would kill right now for a cup of Cheddar Biscuit's vegetable beef soup. Tres délicieux.
- Avoid coughing on family members. No matter how much they love you, they won't appreciate you sharing your germs. Also, avoid drinking out of the milk carton and don't leave your dirty tissues all over the house.
- Stock up on cough and throat lozenges. I still swear by the Vick's VapoRub my mom used on me when I was a kid.
- Pull out that Snuggie you got for Christmas. You may have thought it was a lame gift at the time, but you'll appreciate it when you're shivering uncontrollably.
- Relax and let the flu take its course. This is a great time to watch that DVD you received weeks ago from Netflix. Try not to do anything stressful, like pay bills in bed.
- Don't look for compassion on Facebook. Chances are your friends are feeling the same way and won't be too sympathetic.
What is This Awful Illness?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It's worse than a cold. It can cause mild to severe illness.
For some -- especially older people, young children and people with certain health conditions -- it can be deadly.
The CDC says the best way to prevent the flu is to do what I failed to do -- get the flu vaccination. The vaccine being dispensed this flu season will protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and an influenza B virus.
Where to Get a Shot
Make an appointment with your family physician or stop by Urgent Care Center in Riverview, Care Plus Walk-In Clinics in Brandon, Walgreens in FishHawk Ranch, Valrico or Riverview, CVS in Valrico or Riverview, Publix in FishHawk Ranch, Riverview and Brandon or Super Target in Riverview.