‘Tis the season

The holiday season is over but there is still a season to celebrate. Let’s all rejoice together, folks. It’s flu season. Woo-hoo.

I don’t care which bug moves in to ruin your life for a week the common cold, the flu, bronchitis or all the way to pneumonia. Whichever you call it, its middle name is misery.

The jury was not 100% unanimous on which bug bit me although the educated medical guess was flu. The doc said, “If you’d come in during the first 48 hours we would be sure.” It would have taken a Marine platoon to drag me to his office in the first 48 hours. The bug bit me hard.

The family had been here for Christmas week and had intended to drive back to Boston on Saturday. When the weather forecast was snow straight across their route they sensibly postponed to Sunday. I thought that was wonderful – one more day of fun with grandchildren. After we enjoyed a festive Saturday evening dining out, I went to bed planning the last big breakfast.

Around 4 a.m. I became aware of an earthquake. The bed was shaking. As I gradually came to, I realized that the trembling was me. Despite flannel pajamas, wool blanket and down comforter, I was shaking uncontrollably. A frozen zipper was running up and down my body. Within a few minutes my teeth were chattering and then my stomach joined in the turmoil. Quickly on my way to the bathroom, I shut the window in the ice palace. An hour later and with a good start on a New Year’s diet, I crawled back to bed. I shook until 6 . . . then slept until 8.

There was no making one last holiday breakfast. There was no helping with the packing, nor the gathering of the presents. There was definitely no homemade lunch for the road trip. Only groans from the recliner. I lay like a slug staring at the television, oblivious to the scurrying departure. I barely remember everyone leaving there were no kisses or hugs. By mid-afternoon, although I was cocooned in a quilt, the chills turned to fever and by early evening the body aches began. I wasn’t sure the aches could have been from lolling in the recliner in one position for an entire day. Painkillers, tummy medicines and so to bed. The wracking cough didn’t move in until I got comfortable under the covers. Boxes of tissue were disappearing. The raw throat waited until morning.

Monday, New Year’s Eve. Other than the chills, a repeat of Sunday. Dear Richard brought me some Mucinex to control the coughing and bring up some of the junk in my lungs. The fever remained. Hey, that had a good side at least I was warm, downright toasty in fact. By late afternoon things were bad enough that I realized I should have called the doc, but it was too late. And I should have known better. What was I thinking? The law of contagious illnesses dictates that they only strike during weekends and holidays. Plus both grandchildren had bad coughs for the week they were in residence and my mother was in her second week of bronchitis. And I had foolishly thought I’d escape? My reasoning must have been cooked by the fever.

So hot tea, painkillers, soup and self-pity. And the New Year arrived with no hugs, no kisses, no bubbly. Life was a cabaret.

Day 3, New Year’s Day . . . and if the rest of 2013 is going to be like this I want to go back a year. Staring at the Rose Parade in a stupor, I turned off the annoying talking heads as their chatter bored into my throbbing temples. I tried to read but couldn’t make sense of anything. Pills, tea and more time under the comforter feeling sorry for myself. I went to sleep wondering where I’d stashed my living will.

Looking in the mirror on Wednesday morning I realized I had become visual pollution. Four nights of bedhead atop the ghoul face staring back at me yikes. How can I have aged a decade since Christmas Day?

I called the doctor, got an appointment and headed for the hot shower. It was the first step toward recovery.

Dixie, the nurse at the doctor’s office took one look at me and said, “You poor kid. You look awful. What can I do for you?”

“Shoot me.” I moaned. She understood.

But modern pharmacology is a wonderful thing. The three-day, Z-pack antibiotic that Doc prescribed has me halfway back to my normally crazed status as I write this on Thursday evening. By the weekend I suspect I might even resemble a human being.

And after I am truly out of the woods, I’m going to break down. I’m going to get a flu shot. For a few different reasons I’ve never had one, but I’ve finally made the decision.

Now that we’re not going over the fiscal cliff, I’ve decided that the rest of 2013 is to be enjoyed . . . no more lost weeks under the comforter.

I wish you all a very healthy New Year. Happy is easy after healthy.