There I was in New Hampshire, visiting my family and having a great time with my husband, our adorable daughters, and my loving in-laws. Then we got home. Then I sneezed. Ok, big deal, one sneeze. Then a headache. Hmmm. Probably just caffeine withdrawal, right?
Then at work, Monday morning, I start to feel dizzy. Am I pregnant? Umm, no. I start to cough. My throat is on fire. My face fills up with snotty fluid. What the hell? How could all this happen so fast? And to me? My temperature was 101 F. For 3 days. I thought by now my immune system would have been exposed to all the pathogens ever produced— I have 2 daughters in daycare and I work in primary care and urgent care medicine. People sneeze on me all the time. And I got my flu shot.
Ugh. Now, my head feels like it’s being squeezed and every single muscle and joint in my body is 100 years old. No offense to my 100-year-old patients. Flu has made me painfully aware of every muscle it takes to get up out of bed and sit in a chair. It has made me cherish Nyquil and Tylenol and piles and piles of blankets which I then throw off myself in the middle of the night. Flu seems to be teaching me about the body telling me to slow down and rest. Having the flu and having 2 healthy toddlers who scream and cry and jump around me while I’m trying to get up slowly from the floor teaches me that I can interact with my children when I am calm, and when they are not. When I move slower, they seem to move slower, too. My younger daughter asked me the other day, “Are you OK, Mommy?” And I said yes, as she jumped on my abdomen and used it as a trampoline.
This is not to say that I don’t recommend the flu shot. I absolutely recommend it; even though I got the flu anyway. I haven’t had the flu since middle school, and I attribute that streak of luck to the flu shot and frequent hand washing.
I think the best way to recover from the flu is to get back into moving around as much as your body will let you, as soon as it will let you, and drink lots of fluids. Yes, this will involve more trips to the bathroom; but that activity helps unwind the tight muscles that have been tensed up from all the fevers and coughing and bed rest. My daughters both had the flu before I did and it was remarkable how quickly they recovered. They are such busy little bees. They have the right idea to be active, as long as they don’t jump on me so much.
As for my husband? Not sick. Yet.