Fighting the flu is no fun

I was determined not to be “that person” this year who distracts the class with constant sniffling, nose-blowing, uncontrollable hacking and the I’m-so-sick-don’t-talk-to-me-expression on my face.

I would avoid the flu by washing my hands 50 times a day, neurotically carrying around hand sanitizer, taking vitamin C daily and evading contact with individuals who didn’t do the above.
Self-righteous cleansing rituals and social isolation would be the answer.

But then it happened. I got the flu. Damn! However, this did not feel like the normal flu. I was in an unbelievable amount of pain.

By day three, I went to the hospital in the middle of the night where I waited in the emergency room for five hours with dozens of individuals in the same situation as me. By the fourth hour, the pain was so unbearable I thought it’d be faster to go the walk-in clinic down the street.

Not a chance. The clinic had a line up of 20 people waiting outside for it to open in half an hour. Dragging myself back to the hospital, I waited another hour.

Finally, a doctor was able to see me. After examining my condition, she confirmed that I had the flu. She said that I had the characteristics of swine flu, but that they do not test individually for H1N1, as they assume everyone with the flu has the swine flu.

I didn’t really understand the logic behind this, and was even more annoyed when they told me to go home with no prescription.

The next five days could be described a pure hell. I was confined to my bed with a high fever, excruciatingly sore throat, aching muscles, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath, all while being subjected to reruns of Slap Chop infomercials at 3 a.m.

Despite my mother’s best attempts to cure my illness the European way (read: drinking brandy), my condition did not improve. As sick as I was, all I could think about was falling behind in school.

I had to postpone two midterms and two papers. Ridiculously dramatic thoughts of me having to drop out of university and live in my mother’s basement until the age of 35 – all because of that one week I had flu – ran through my mind.

Similarly, the thought of taking a week off school in the middle of October only made me more stressed and ultimately sicker. Having to return to the hospital a second time a few days later, the doctor gave me the appropriate antibiotics. Fortunately, I have recovered now.

All my professors were very understanding and the university’s lenience in regards to rescheduling assignments and exams, due to the severity of this year’s flu season, made catching up on school less stressful.

Overall, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I’m sure I’ll turn my “flu of ‘09” story into an epic narrative used to warn my future grandchildren about the perils of the seasonal flu.