Flu?

The last time I had the flu was in 2004.  It was a nasty round of intensely sore throat, crushing body aches, and a high fever.

This Thursday night, I was heading towards bed, it was still early, about 9:00 PM when I just hit this wall of head buzzing, trembling, exhausted, sick.  WTF?  Checked my blood sugar and blood pressure, not that.  I woke up the same and spent the day at work feeling like pounded poop with several rounds of feeling like I may pass out.  My temp’s up a bit but not to the point of febrile, my throat is sore and I’m a little congested but nothing massive.  There’s just that achey, blurg feeling.

“Oh but if it was the flu, you couldn’t have gotten out of bed and managed to get to work” the disbelieving, skeptical voice in my head (that sounds a lot like a very irritating LPN from my former university’s infirmary) says.  To that voice I respond “bullshit!  I can meet with and defuse a difficult student, download and install software on a poorly running laptop that won’t connect to the wireless network, research an ancient Viking saga and find it in three different formats in both the original language and English translation in 20 minutes for a student taking an obscure literature class…all with a blood pressure that would make most people collapse in a heap of useless shaky mess.  I live with these feelings, and I frequently push through them because I have to.  I take breaks, I put my feet up, I lay on the couch, I am a master at modifying my routine – so much so that my routine now is more marked by modification than anything else.  A handful of candy, a bottle of water, a draw full of tylenol, advil, tissues, hot and cold packs, and a pocket in my purse devoted to stronger meds – I am fucking prepared.

However, all that said, I did feel bad enough that I bailed early at work.  Which is good because by the time I was outside waiting for my husband to pick me up, I was literally stumbling across the sidewalk as if I were drunk.  My legs were like jelly everything was tippy.  For those of you who have passed out, it was that stage you have just before your vision and hearing fills with static and you find yourself suddenly pressed hard against something which time and returning consciousness eventually reveal to be the floor or ground.  I rode home in a relatively stuporous state, then crawled onto the bed, fully clothed, with the cat at my side when I got home.  I dozed for about a half hour before getting up and doing my after work routine of changing, face washing, cat box, water, and food changing….then straight to the couch.

Times like this highlight how hard it is for those of us with chronic fatiguing illnesses to recognize and appropriately act on an acute and separate illness.  My case in point, the first thing I assumed was that my blood sugar or blood pressure was bottoming out.  People like us have a paradoxical tolerance for being able to work while feeling amazingly shitty.  I am quite certain that if I had a better, healthier baseline, I would not have even attempted to go to work yesterday.  If I had not still believed that this was just part of my routine feeling like shit, maybe a strangely manifesting migraine, I would have stayed home.  I am very anti- spreading your illness around.  As it was, when I realized that yes, indeed I had flu-like symptoms, I insisted on staying a good five feet away from my employees and not touching their mouse or keyboard.  “Please, I’ll just stay here.  I’m sick and I don’t want you to catch it.  I’m probably leaving early so let’s go over next steps in the project so you’ll have work to do later”.  With my boss, when I had to help with an issue with software she’s still new at using, I explicitly told her “I really don’t want to touch the mouse….”  I’m glad I work in an office where this is not seen as strange.  She actually thanked me.

So, is this the flu?  I’m not sure.  I certainly have “flu like” symptoms, minus the fever.  I always thought that without a fever, it can’t be the flu.  But it turns out I’m wrong on that count, according to info like this blurb from the CDC.  And so it’s couch time for me this weekend.  I had been planning to do some much needed housework and go for brunch.  Nope.  It’s looking like a couch weekend.  Because although I will sometimes push myself beyond a reasonable limit for things like work because there is a real need and a real payoff for that, I have learned the hard way that nothing at all good comes of doing that around my house during the time I have to rest and recuperate.  So for the next few days, it’s reclining, Masterpiece Mystery on Netflix, soup, and fluids.

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