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A Scary (But True) Account of the Flu

posted Dec 19, 2013, 4:45 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 14, 2014, 10:37 AM by Unknown user ]

Madi Endicott

        It was January 2013, the climax of flu season, when my downfall began. What I thought was just a little cold turned into a full fledged viral slaughter of my body. It started out as an annoying sniffle that escalated for about two weeks before it was bad enough for me to miss school.

Preventative Action

  • Become vaccinated by getting the flu shot offered at your local pharmacy (like Walgreen’s ) or the community health center.
  • Take Airborne! These magic, dissolving tablets provide your body with vitamins to help make your immune system strong.
  • Wash your hands or keep hand sanitizer on you at all times. Being around hundreds of kids every day who may or may not have the flu, students have to be cautionary. Germs are everywhere!

        The first day was probably the best--or, I guess I should say, the least torturous. Despite the huge pile of tissues and distracting bronchitis-like cough, I had a somewhat enjoyable day. I mean, I got to watch Pocahontas and Pitch Perfect, play with all of my new Christmas toys, and my mom even made me a big bowl of Ramen noodles. Little did I know that was going to be my last meal for a long, long time.

        It was the beginning of the end.

        That night I snuggled up (as comfortably as I could get with the throbbing in my sinuses and head that had seemed to multiply within a few hours) on the couch which my mom had labeled as the “sick couch” with off-white bed sheets that I recognized as the exact sheets that were used when my siblings and I had the pukes when we were little (how appealing, right?). I choked down the potent Nyquil, and turned on the humidifier, settling in for what was going to be long, long night. And waited. Waited for sleep to come. 11 p.m. 12 a.m. 12:30 a.m. Patiently at first, I waited. 1 a.m. Praying for sleep to come. 2 a.m. 2:30 a.m. Begging for sleep to come and put me out of my misery. 3 a.m. 3:30 a.m. Any thought I had of returning to school the next day diminished as the clock flashed 4 a.m. It was past 4:30 a.m. when I finally went unconscious, a mere three hours before my siblings’ morning routines would wake me up.

        The next few days were something out of a horror movie. I spent mornings forcing Cheerios one by one down my throat, afternoons collapsed by the fireplace with my exponentially growing pile of tissues festering beside me, evenings in my swimsuit on the shower floor with the water running steaming hot, and nights cursing the merciless gods of sleep while coughing so hard it turned into gagging and eventually vomiting.

        Needless to say, I was not ready to go back to school.

        To my disadvantage, exams were just around the corner when this little fiasco went down, so, being the 4.0 student that I am, I bugged my teachers with emails every day to keep up with my schoolwork. I even dragged myself to school one day to take two quizzes (which I surprisingly received As on) so that I would not be behind. That was a huge mistake, and if I gave anyone my gosh-awful sickness, I send my greatest apology.

        Trying to write an English paper running on only four hours of sleep sounds difficult, but attempting it with absolutely no sleep, a pounding sinus headache, and an upset stomach from the nasty cold medicine my mom was digging out of the back of the cabinet was nearly impossible and I actually ended up turning it in only halfway finished. (Thank you, can bonus!)

Facts About the Flu Vaccination

  • The flu vaccination lasts throughout the entire flu season, but only covers what scientists predict to be the most common flu strain this season.
  • The flu shot does NOT give you the flu.
  • The reason your arm may hurt after you get the flu shot is because your body is making a great amount of antibodies in response to the vaccination.
  • Although the flu shot may not vaccinate against all types of the flu, it builds up your immune system which will help your body in fighting off a virus or bacterial attack.

        On the fourth day my temperature spiked and I was getting the infamous cold sweats. Sinus congestion, a headache, coughing, and now a fever; I was getting the full flu experience. At this point my mom started to worry, but I, being well-equiped with my Hunger Games knowledge, knew exactly how to handle this symptom.

        I spent the night by the fireplace in my fleece footy pajamas and under every blanket I could find in the house. It didn’t take long for me to break a sweat and I actually got a decent amount of sleep. The next day my fever was gone; I had Katniss to thank for that.

        Being the tough, my-young-and-healthy-body-is-strong-enough-to-handle-this type of person, I refused to go to the doctor. But my stubbornness didn’t last long and it was my mom who came to my rescue. After finding me sobbing in the shower with scalding hot water burning my skin as I struggled to find relief from the agonizing pressure in my sinuses, my mom finally pulled the plug and scheduled a doctor’s appointment.

        It turned out that I had a sinus infection and an ear infection on top of having the flu virus. No wonder I felt so dreadful! It was too late for the flu vaccination, so the doctor prescribed two medications (one for my cough and one for the infections) which my mom and I picked up at the pharmacy a few hours later.

        Life was better after that. Sure, the medicine tasted funny and upset my stomach, and the pills were hard to swallow, but I had turned the corner toward a long-time-coming recovery. I was slowly but surely getting back to feeling like my normal self.

        Two days after my appointment, I returned to school (armed with tissues and hand sanitizer) in time for the last two days of exams. My teachers were really flexible and I made up my missed exams during my study hall and lunch periods. Fortunately the gods of good grades were on my side and I concluded the first semester of my junior year with a 4.0 GPA.

        I ended up losing four pounds over the course of this near-death experience which meant the second I regained my appetite that had been absent for nearly five days, I shoved a Cheddar’s cheeseburger down my throat. Never had anything tasted so good to me.

        It took about a week for me to feel like my normal self again, and it was hard to get back into the full swing of basketball season after my lungs, head, and the rest of my body had taken a full-out, seven-day beating.

        All of this could have been avoided if I would have just listened to my dad and gotten the flu shot in early November. The five seconds of discomfort the shot requires would have been better than the days and days of the torture I endured.