I wear this fashionable mouth cover to protect my readers.
While we spent a fun weekend in Tahoe with friends eating, hiking, singing, dancing, and drinking, Dave came down with the flu. So it was no surprise that I came home late Sunday night behind in all aspects of my life—laundry was piled high, the cupboards were bare, and I couldn’t find my cell phone anywhere. But on Monday I did what I could to catch up while taking care of Dave. I managed to do a little bit of my job, pick up some groceries, conquer the laundry, and walk the dogs before I succumbed to sickness myself on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, day 2 of my flu symptoms, I ambled the few feet from my bed to my desk to attend to some brief but necessary correspondence and then crawled back to bed. So it’s a good thing I work at home!
After an hour nap, I tried to read the book assigned for my Native American Lit class, but I couldn’t tell if it was written in a really confusing way, or if my fever was obstructing my comprehension. (Okay, 99.8 degrees isn’t likely to fry my brain, but it seemed like a reasonable excuse.) So I allowed myself to sink to the lowest common denominator of mindless activity—watching TV.
Dr. No in his height-of-fashion radioactive gear
Ursula showing off her seashells
I had never seen Dr. No, the very first Bond film, and had I been well, I still never would have. But Ursula Andress’s seashells kept my mind off my achy self. Despite the promise of a Bond film festival on whatever channel I had wandered onto, I decided to take a more pro-active stance on my screen watching. I’d heard about Broadchurch, a BBC murder mystery series of critical acclaim available on Netflix streaming, so I dove in and watched five consecutive episodes.
Day 3: I’m starting to lose track of time. Because the Dayquil (despite its name) made me drowsy yesterday, I found that I fell asleep for short periods when I didn’t really want to. So today I countered that with coffee. My flu symptoms are mostly dealt with, but I still have the energy to stay upright in bed and write.
Then, because I was feeling a tad guilty that I was feeling better but not getting any work done, I again made the three-foot journey to my desk and read my work e-mail. I even opened up all the files that I needed to do the proofreading I was supposed to do. But then I realized I needed the hard copy to proof against, which was downstairs. While I was mustering up the strength to descend the stairway, I realized I had to visit the bathroom. That zapped my energy reserves, however, and I plopped back into bed, vowing to return to the proofreading job when I next found a burst of energy. Then I watched the remaining 3 episodes of season one of Broadchurch.
Day 4: It’s just a stupid flu, but I feel like an alien has taken over my body. I’ve now missed three classes, and tonight I’m not going to hear Willa Mamet at the Monkeyhouse. I have tickets for tomorrow night’s Antigonick at Shotgun. Please oh please, let me be better by then…On a positive note, my new iPhone arrived in the mail today!
Day 5: Dave got sick a few days earlier than I did, so he’s even more ready to get rid of this virus or flu or whatever it is. He took drastic action—he went to his doctor at Kaiser. He came home wearing a face mask and carrying a pharmacy bag with an inhaler, some cough medicine with codeine, an antibiotic, and something else that I can’t remember. The diagnosis? Bronchitis.
I do not feel well enough to go to Kaiser, but what if I have bronchitis too? I don’t think my doctor has many patients because when I went online to get an appointment, I had several options available, two of them for today.
I decided that the adage Dress for the job you want could be adapted to Dress for the health you deserve. So I removed the stinky pair of pajamas I’d been living in for almost three days and took a shower. Then I put on a dress and clean underwear. It worked! I felt 25% better, which was enough to drive to Kaiser. Dave handed me an extra face mask that he’d picked up on his visit. So the dress that declared health was somewhat undermined by the pink mask that screamed contagious.
Apparently Kaiser is now on a mission to prevent alcoholism because between the nurse and Dr. Chan, I was asked more questions about my drinking than about my breathing. It reminded me of our yearly check-ups with Kylie’s pediatrician. Every year we were asked if we had a firearm in our home, and every year we said no. I wonder how many Berkeley families suddenly become gun-toting second-amendment advocates. “Yeah, I know I said for ten years that I’d never own a gun, but last week I just had a hankerin’ to go shooting!”
My lungs did not alarm him, and my fever is minor at this point, so Dr. Chan sent me home with a fist bump (less likely to spread germs) and without any prescriptions at all. Dave will share his inhaler and cough medicine with me, and I really don’t want any antibiotics if I don’t need them. I should find out what the fourth thing was though—maybe it’s fun…
Night 5: Because we’re season subscribers, I was able to swap out our theater tickets for another night. So that’s good news. But I was bummed to find out that The Wire isn’t available on Netflix streaming. On the bright side, Dave is feeling well enough to walk to Five Star Video for some dvds and pick up dinner from the Thai place next door. So we’re set for tonight.
Day 6: The worst part of waking up this morning was realizing that I had only been dreaming that I was feeling much better and was heading to the gym. Only in your dreams, Tanya. And how pathetic is it when your fantasies include exercise?
We watched the rest of season two of Borgen, a well-done Danish TV drama program about Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg—Denmark’s answer to The West Wing. With that kind of concentrated exposure to Danish, I should be able to pick up the language easily if my flu lasts long enough for me to see season three. I can already swear in Danish: Lort! Lort! Lort!
One of the weird aspects of being housebound right now is that we’re getting the house painted (on the outside), which means that all week, painters have been using power sprays to blast off dirt and scrapers to remove loose paint chips before taping plastic to cover all the windows. Even with the blinds drawn, it has been somewhat unsettling to hear people just on the other side of the windows at all times of day, knowing that I can’t leave. And of course now that they’re actually painting, we’re hermetically sealed in. Yesterday was quite hot, and we couldn’t open any windows. So I wore a camisole and a pair of p.j. shorts, turned the fan on full-blast, and placed ice packs strategically on my body. Dave seemed hot too, but he didn’t seem as bothered by it.
I think I’ve figured it out—the flu somehow triggered menopause and in addition to my flu symptoms, I’m experiencing hot flashes. Or maybe it’s just good timing.
Right now I’m lying in bed listening to quiet music and trying not to cough as Dave lies asleep next to me. Anna Nalick is singing “Breathe—just breathe.” So I do. But every exhale sounds like I just stepped on one of the dog’s squeaky toys.