By Ryan Schlauderaff
It’s that season again…sickness is running around and around, stealing us from work, from school, from living the happy, healthy, productive lives we all desire. I liked the whole “giving” and “sharing” bit a lot more during the holiday season. But first a quick anecdote on a gift that kept on giving.
Two years ago during this time of year, I went home to visit my folks shortly after they returned from a mission trip to Guatemala. My dad was sick for a few days after he got back, but I didn’t think much of it until a week later. Why a week you ask? Because, a week later I was lying alone, in a pool of my own sweat, coughing up gunk and near delirium as my body ran out of hydration from stomach upheavals, and a splitting headache prevented me from crawling to the bathroom sink for more water.
Fortunately, a kind friend of mine skipped her shift at the RA desk and dragged my poor, helpless body to the hospital ER for two IV bags, a hand-full of anti-nausea caplets, and the atom bomb to drop on this Guatemalan jungle fever in the form of horse-size penicillin pills.
This week wasn’t that bad, but it was close. In this round, I think I can blame my girlfriend for the gift, but she’s blaming her roommate, who in turn insists it was…who knows, it’s like trying to trace an urban legend.
First I was achy, then I was coughing, then my throat hurt, then my head started to hurt; by the time 24 hours had passed since the first symptoms, I was afraid I was going to die. By the second day, I was afraid I wouldn’t.
Another friend once again dragged my poor, helpless body to a clinic. I stumbled my way to the walk-in desk and attempted to sort out my affairs, explain my symptoms, and fumble my way through simple procedural details like I was some heroin addict struggling through withdrawal. All the while gasping for air behind a mask they handed me as I walked through the door.
I lay there in the waiting room, surrounded by other souls also lying in the ruins of their own failed immune systems. This continued on for what seemed like hours, a chorus of coughing, snuffling and discreet groans of pain (actually that may have been me) until my name was called.
I stumbled along behind the nurse until I arrived at the correct exam room. As I sat there, backside hanging in the cold breeze because those stupid gowns NEVER fit right, I wondered, “How could this happen to me!? I eat healthy. I exercise. I’m not real social, and I usually avoid my diseased friends.”
The cheery doctor walked in, interrupting my careful scientific reverie. She asked me the usual line of questions and ended with “Well, did you get your flu shot this season?”
“Oh S#!T!,” I thought to myself. “Of all the simple steps in sickness prevention I skipped that one.”
She shook her head gently, both reproachful and sympathetic all at once, and told me to go home, skip work and school, and rest up for the rest of the week.
So, as I lay here in my misery, quietly pecking away my keyboard when I have the strength, I say, let this be a lesson to you: Get your flu shot. You’ll be a healthier, happier person. You’ll be proud of yourself later, and you can gloat when all your dumb friends get it.
Visit http://www.ndflu.com and click on the “Vaccine Info” tab to find a location near you that provides the vaccine.
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