Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I Had the Flu Last Week

Chances are, so did you.

When I was in college, there was a gonorrhea outbreak at one of the girl dorms. The school paper’s cover story that week read, “Everyone’s clapping, but no one’s having a good time.” You can say the same about this year’s flu: everyone’s got it, no one’s enjoying it.

Last week, I drew the short straw and the doctor told me I tested positive for Influenza-A. I’d later do some googling and discover Influenza-A can be passed from humans to dogs, but not from dogs to humans. I’m sure that information will be important some day.

The doctor prescribed Tamiflu and some cough medicine with codeine mixed in. Earlier in the day I watched a news report about a massive Tamiflu shortage hitting the city. Which is cool because when you have a potentially deadly illness the last thing you want to hear is the medicine isn’t available anywhere in town.

The first CVS I tried had what I needed. Those coveted Tamiflu pills were $50, but what are you going to do? In a strange twist, they were out of the cough medicine. Later that night, my wife would end up trying multiple pharmacies before finding one that could fulfill the cough medicine prescription. If I had known then what I know now, I’d have told her not to bother. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

That first night was rough and we’ll leave it at that.

But after that, each day got a little better. I was perpetually exhausted and had zero appetite, but at least things I put into my body stayed there. So I had that going for me. I spent my waking moments marathoning movies and doing research about the flu.

Did you know you can’t reinfect yourself with the flu? I’m now immune to this particular strand. On the other hand, the flu virus can survive on a hard surface (think door handle, faucet, tv remote) for 24 hours. The virus is powerful which is probably why everyone’s got it.

In the last week, besides losing ten pounds, I watched seventeen movies. What else is there to do when you don’t have energy to move and codeine is fogging your brain? Most of the films I watched were from the 80’s: the Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, and Back to the Future series’ and Ferris Bueller thrown in for good measure. In addition to all the movies, I learned that I’m no good at Price is Right and Ellen is still the best daytime show on TV.

It wasn’t until day five of the flu that I realized codeine is not your friend.

The news had moved on from warning about Tamiflu shortages to the potential for the flu to turn into pneumonia. So I did what you do and googled pneumonia symptoms. As you do when you end up at WebMB, I determined I probably had pneumonia.

Did you know that you can FaceTime a doctor now? It’s like “Ask a Nurse” but costs $49 and is part of my doctor’s network. I called in and asked her how concerned I needed to be with pneumonia, considering I had no fever and could breath just fine. She determined that all of my “symptoms” were really just reactions to codeine. You guys, codeine is wicked stuff.

The video doctor prescribed a different cough medicine, sans codeine. Turns out codeine takes about 24 hours to get out of your body. Once gone, my appetite returned and I didn’t want to curl up and sleep for days.

Fun fact, when you are diagnosed with the flu, you are also automatically diagnosed with bronchitis. This is why the doctor prescribed the cough medicine with codeine in the first place. But without the codeine, life isn’t that bad.

So here we are at the start of a new month and I’m flu free, or specifically H3N2 free. All of my Apple Watch goals and streaks have started anew (since they were all broken due to the afore mentioned flu). It’s like 2018 got a reset today.

In case you’re still here, let’s recap:

  • wash your hands all the time
  • there is no fourth Indiana Jones movie
  • codeine is not your friend

Freelance content writer and writing coach. Co-Founder of The Writing Cooperative. Let’s connect:

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