Don’t Stand So Close to Me

On Tuesday morning, I started to think that I might be coming down with something. By 2:30pm, I had to leave work because it felt like every bone in my body was made out of those weird Twizzlers with the gooey insides.

Every bone. Even the little ones in my ears.

Every bone. Even the little ones in my ears.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I ruled out Ebola (because I haven’t been to West Africa recently, nor provided health care to anyone who has it) and the common cold (because colds don’t make you feel like a semi-truck drove into your fourth-floor office, ran you over, backed up, and ran you over again), and that pretty much left me with seasonal flu.

Some Misconceptions I Had About the Flu, Cleared Up

  • But wait, I thought. It can’t be the flu, because I had the flu shot back in the fall! “Ha ha ha,” said the CDC. “It doesn’t matter.” The virus changed after this year’s vaccine was developed and now there’s a mutated, freaky virus in my body and it won’t come out.
  • It’s no problem, I thought. I’ve had the flu before. I’ll kick this baby in 24 hours! “Ha ha ha,” said the CDC. “You really won’t.” The word “flu” gets thrown around to mean any old thing that makes you feel bad. Your run-of-the-mill stomach flu is not the flu flu. When the CDC says, “You have the flu” they’re talking about influenza, an upper respiratory disease that tries really, really hard to kill you. If you’re a baby or very old person, it may succeed. At the very least, you’re down for the count for one to two weeks.
  • That sounds terrible, I thought. I can’t wait to tell my friends about it. “Ha ha ha,” said the CDC. “You’ll never see your friends again! Or, at least not for five to seven days after you’ve started exhibiting symptoms. Plus, you may have infected them a day before you even knew you were sick. They probably don’t like you anymore.”
  • Shut up, CDC, I thought. Shut up and leave me alone so I can vomit in peace. “Ha ha ha, said the CDC. “We have a very boring diet we can recommend to you once you stop barfing. You have bananas, right? No? What about rice? No rice either? Guess you’re eating applesauce and toast for the next three days.”

Despite all of this, I was handling the flu pretty well. Oh, I couldn’t sleep much the first couple of days because my entire body hurt, and I couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes for a while there, but yesterday I started feeling a little better. I crawled all the way to my kitchen!

I'll take any victory I can get.

I’ll take any victory I can get.

Thanks to a steady regimen of DayQuil, NyQuil, applesauce, and Gatorade, I felt like I was on the upswing. Until this morning, that is, when I was pretty sure I was going to die.

How to Be Like Stephanie

3:30am Wake up with a sore throat and a hacking cough.
3:35am Take some NyQuil in the dark.
4:45am Wonder why you’re still awake. Turn on the light and see that you took DayQuil instead. Blame this on your cat.
5:45am While still awake, develop an allergic reaction to the DayQuil YOU DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO TAKE. Freak out. This flu is going to kill you in the most ridiculous way possible.
6am Google whether or not you can mix Benadryl with DayQuil. You can!
6:05am Discover that there is no Benadryl in your home and that your throat is doing a weird thing that will probably kill you. Hunt for any antihistamine you can find.
6:15am Google the two drugs you found to find out if they can mix with DayQuil. Learn that one will maybe possibly kill you. The other will not. Take that one with a giant swig of Gatorade a kind friend brought you.
6:30am Take a shower to calm down. You needed one because you haven’t bathed since before you were sick. Notice while washing your hair that your fingertips are brown. What the hell? Freak out.
6:32am Get out of the shower. Why did you take that antihistamine? You are absolutely going to die, aren’t you? You’re going to die in your sleep. Put on some nice underwear in case you die in your sleep. Wonder if it’s possible to train the cat to check for a pulse and call 911. Some animals do that, right?’

He kind of already knows how to use the computer...

He kind of already knows how to use the computer… Kind of.

6:40am Check the mirror to make sure your pajamas are nice enough to die in. FLIP OUT because your lips and teeth and tongue are a deep, deep blue. Oh my god! Oh my god! Death is coming! Don’t fall asleep! Don’t close your eyes or death will find you!
6:45am Begin to Google what could possibly make your fingertips turn brown and your mouth turn blue. Get distracted by a clip of the Coneheads. Watch old Saturday Night Live sketches until you lose consciousness. You realize it’s happening, but now you’re like, “Eh. Come and get me, death. I’m too tired to fight.”
9:30am Wake up when the cat piledrives your stomach. You’re alive! Your allergic reaction is gone! You made it through the night! Holy cow! You’re still dying from the flu but it’s a beautiful day and birds are chirping and you can feel your white blood cells gaining the upper hand.
9:31am Notice that your fingertips are still brown. Run to the mirror. Your mouth is still blue. Wait a minute. What’s that brown smudge on your body wash? Is that… Is that hair dye from last weekend? WITH FINGERPRINTS IN IT? And what’s this on the night stand? It’s your Gatorade. Your blue Gatorade. See? Everything is fine!
9:40am The Claritin side effects page is still up on your browser. Notice that one of the side effects is increased anxiety. Think, “Sheesh. Glad I didn’t experience that. That would have been crazy.”


  1. TheFakeGourmet

    I had the flue last year. On Christmas. I sort of remember Christmas. I didn’t dress or move off the couch for 3 days. Day 4 I bathed and put on clothes. I also walked to my car to get something out. Then I fell out on the couch and didn’t move again for another 24 hours. Then I was suddenly better, just as suddenly as I got sick. So you may make it through this without dying. Hope so!

  2. donseaman

    I subscribe to painfully few blogs. Yours is one, and frankly, is the only one I read each time you update. Please don’t die, because it would really impact my literacy.

  3. Browsing the Atlas

    I take DayQuil and NyQuil for everything. I never thought to look up the side effects. Just as well since I’d start to think I felt all the side effects, which would prompt me t take more Nyquil in a vicious sort of cycle. :)

  4. queenbookworm

    Exactly – I was down for 11 days! That was no kind of flu I’ve ever had before. I heard that the next terrorist attack will be biological. Hmmm. Am I paranoid or maybe OD’d on Mucinex?

  5. chrysaliswithaview

    Oh thank-you. That was so funny. I was thinking ‘gosh, she’s so calm … oh no, she’s not’. I wish I could be so easily distracted when I am worrying about things. But at least you had the presence of mind to shower before death.

  6. Michael

    It’s never fun being sick. All that energy that we take for granted is zapped away to make us feel very drained and useless. I was feeling this way last week but it was only for 24 hours. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Hope good health rules for the rest of the year!

  7. oh2bhuman

    Just found your blog and I laughed out loud with your play by play. So much for getting the flu shot. Medicine is my friend when I’m sick..that and a hot toddy that my Mum used to make for me. I will follow your blog and keep up with your funny stories

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