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Seven Days with H1N1: A Diary

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There’s not much to do when you have the flu, except to make it through to the other side. I decided to pass the time by writing about my experience with the virus.

Day One:
It Begins.
I just spewed germs all over my computer keyboard. Gross.

I am sick today. Spent all of yesterday coughing. Spent all of last night in bed coughing. My husband says he has not heard me cough that much in ages. Where in heck did this come from? It was so sudden. And now my voice is gone. I don’t have chills and fever, but then again, how are you supposed to know when you have the flu and when it’s just menopause? Come on! Who designed this stage of life anyway? You heat up and sweat and take off layers to cool down.

And now I’m freezing.

Day Two:
Symptoms
My coughing has turned into unrepressed, dry hacking. Got some chills, had a fever earlier on today. Feeling very tired, run down, can’t seem to think clearly. My chest feels tight and when I take in a breath, I feel congested. No cold, just a very slight headache.

This is not menopause. I believe that these symptoms fit H1N1, judging from the info that’s circulating.

  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Nasal
  • Cough
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Body Aches

It’s just a wee bit scary. I don’t want the coughing to turn into something worse.

Day Three:
The Croup Hits the Fan
My glands are so swollen and painful I can hardly swallow. My skin hurts and feels hot to the touch, but then I’m freezing cold. I try not to cough because it’s nasty and sounds disgusting. This is the point where I should be taking Tamiflu, but you need a prescription for that, and I can’t imagine going to a clinic and sitting in a room full of sick people. Or even just sitting.

My eyes hurt. I want to sleep all day. I’m going back to bed.

Day Four:
Reprieve
It’s one in the afternoon. Just woke up. My fever is finally gone and my skin feels normal to the touch. So that’s good. I’ve been making up for lost sleep, which I guess I needed anyway. I can’t swallow without it feeling like I’m ingesting razors. When I do cough, it’s congested, but it’s not the incessant hacking of the last few days.

I have been watching endless hours of TV, lying flat out on the futon with my sickness cache piled all around me. At this moment, my lair is strewn with a box of Ritz crackers, a vitamin C bottle, cough drops, throat spray, two mini Coke cans, a bottle of Ginger Ale, old Kleenex, my computer, my cell phone, my electric blanket, two pillows, cold wet face cloths, a package of chewy mints, oil of oregano, a bottle of extra strength Advil, a half eaten bowl of chicken soup and a book. Oh, and my dog who is sleeping somewhere in the room.

Blah! I just swallowed. My throat is excruciating.

And I am missing my son’s twenty-fifth birthday party in the city. Life sucks sometimes.

In the evening ...

Fever’s up again. So chilled and feeling horrible. Chainsaw in my throat. Too sick to go to the doctor. Everyone is at the birthday party except me. Don’t want to sleep because I’ll wake up feeling worse than ever.

Day Five:
Flu Tunnel
Today, I can at least see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. This has been such a bad week. Can’t believe how emotionally overwrought I am. I have been feeling so ill that I have felt like crying a few times, just wondering how I was going to last through the day. Yesterday morning at 8:00 a.m., I was still awake after fighting sleep all night. The problem was that I was scared to nod off because every time I would wake up again, it was so painful to swallow that I could barely stand it. I held off as long as I could.

So I was lying there half awake, watching some strange Woody Allen show. “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Now this is the weird part I think I was hallucinating because of my high fever. Every channel I would switch to, these weird rock fireplaces would appear. That’s just the strangest thing I’ve experienced. So freaky. I’ll have to go back and check out those shows again when I’m sane.

Anyway, today, I have a tiny bit more energy. Still no speaking voice. No fever, a little achey but not bad. A lot of bronchial congestion, painful swallowing because of my glands but not as bad as yesterday. Less sinus pain. Very, very tired and emotionally drained. But I have my sense of humor back. 

That’s good. 

My nurse friend says I still need the H1N1 vaccine as my flu has not been hospital tested to confirm I’ve got the virus. But another nurse friend, just as expertly trained, says I do have the virus, because virtually all the flu circulating in these parts of the globe is H1N1.  

Day Six:
Big Baby
Still feeling shaky and sick today.

Thought I was getting better, no fever but slow progress. I realize just how far I have to go to get back to normal.

I was reading about my niece who has three small children and also enters 5 and 10 K runs. I started to cry reading about her. The very idea that someone could have energy like that overwhelmed me and made me feel so emotional. 

That is how I am today. Weak, and emotional and feeling like a baby. Wishing someone would carry me up the stairs. My husband is at work. My kids don’t live close by. I can’t cope.

I know it’s just the flu talking. It’s going to turn around soon.

In the evening ...
Several hours later, after that last post, I have been fed (thanks to my husband) and have relaxed with an after dinner nap. And a glass of wine.

And, tonight, I do feel slightly better, less overwrought, though still sick.

It dawned on me that I used up a lot of emotional energy today, simply by having to call a few people to explain I wouldn’t be showing up for stuff this week.

A concert will be missed, a rehearsal and a meeting. Not the end of the world, but I had to do some organizing. That takes emotional resources.

One thing I’m learning about my life and about life in general, is that energy comes from somewhere. If you take care of yourself physically and keep your body energized in healthy ways that can be replenished, you’ll do ok. I haven’t exercised in weeks. Or eaten right.

My emotional resources have been in need of restocking for some time. Partly, I’ve been too busy with large events that have drained me, and partly, I have felt alone and disconnected in my little world. Being sick makes you take notice of your support system. I rely almost completely on my husband, but he is not Superman. What would I do if something worse than the flu hit me? This is a concern.

And spiritually, well, I know I have been fighting some battles that are not mine. God is God and I am not. I need to work on this.

Having said that, the flu is also the flu. It’s spread by coughing, and considering the amount of hacking I’m still doing, no wonder I caught it.

Day Seven:
Morning Has Broken
I will live. This the first morning I’ve woken up without feeling like a zombie. I am still shaky. Like somebody hit me over the head with a nerf-sledgehammer. But I have a hankering for a roast beef dinner. I am actually going to peel some potatoes and defrost the roast. I washed the towels and cleaned up my flu lair. I have popped the last of my chewy mints. I have turned off the TV.

It will definitely take some time to retrieve my lost energy, but I know I’m on the road to recovery.

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