Readers, you may have thought I escaped to the beach, or went pumpkin picking and got caught in a vine; or, perhaps you thought I succumbed to the insanity known as mid semester. Or, perhaps you thought I was going deep and quiet before launching the Ordinary World missle.
Sadly, it was none of the above. I had the swine flu.
Yes, that awfully named H1N1 virus that has nothing to do with swine but everything to do with the flu. I am now a statistic.
It was spreading around campus faster than gossip (a recent memo from my university approximated 900 reported student cases, "presumably" H1N1, since the beginning of the fall semester), and several of my students had already missed class as a result of it. Faculty had also been issued a memo that students with swine flu were to be given special consideration regarding attendance, catching up, etc. I frowned, thinking that they were simply riding on the paranoia bandwagon.
And then I got a tickle in my throat.
I'd dismissed it because it was at night, after a day in which I lectured for three hours straight (which I normally don't do). When I woke up the next morning with a cough and feeling a little bit woozy, however, I thought that maybe it wasn't from all the talking.
I went into school anyway, but by the time I got there I was pretty certain that I should probably turn around and go home (feeling more woozy and throat sore), that maybe I should take advantage of the bandwagon, especially given that in 24 hours I would be on fall break, a break I was looking forward to so I could start planning the Ordinary World launch, line up some readings, etc. (not to mention just relaxing).
Besides, the department secretary said I didn't look too good.
By the time I got home, I was running a slight temperature. Very slight. I made a doctor's appointment for the next day. Even apologized for jumping on the H1N1 bandwagon.
I'll spare you the details of the H1N1 test (other than to say "snout test" might coincide well w/ "swine flu"), but 10 minutes later, my results came back: positive.
That's not what upset me, however. What upset me was the doctor reminding me that I hadn't been there for a physical in quite some time, and now that I'm almost 40, these things have to become regular.
Damn, I'm almost 40??
It turned out that I was too late for Tamiflu, and the doctor told me to stay home for one week exactly and take OTC meds, which I did. No contact with others.
For the next three days, I was sicker than I've been in a long time. The fever was the worst. At some point I finally lost it and burst into tears when my mom called. It was also the first in a long time that I felt lonely. I wondered if this was payback for my criticism of the "special consideration" memo. Had I not already been on vacation (and a sucky vacation it was), I would have had to cancel even more classes. This is not a curl-up-under-the-blanket-and-catch-up-on-soap-operas-or-reality-shows kind of flu. You start to think of ways to put yourself out of your misery: drop an anvil on your head, drink the entire bottle of Dimetapp, suck on the exhaust pipe of a bus, you name it. I had very little appetite for anything other than toast or soup. (I did, however, have the foresight to buy a bag of peanut M&Ms on my way home from school earlier in the week.)
By Saturday, my fever finally broke, but was still 99. On Sunday, I relapsed just a little, but my appetite returned (as did my single-serving instant cake recipe). Yesterday was my first full day w/ a normal temp and w/out needing meds of any kind. Today was my last day off from school. I even got some work done today.
So even though my vacation was shot to hell and the Ordinary World release has been delayed, there are more things for which to be grateful: having a job in which to call in sick; having health insurance to cover my doctor visits; having family close by to deliver orange juice to me; having a mom to call me each day and make sure I'm ok, and a wombmate who made me laugh until I couldn't stop coughing; and lots and lots of dear friends and colleagues and loved ones via Facebook who let me know they were thinking of me, sending me love and healing energy, and simply wishing me well. Besides, better sick now than at Christmastime, when I'm back in Sag Harbor with my writing partner working on our manuscript.
Not only that, but this past week, Faking It climbed very high in the Kindle Store rankings yet again (and, last I checked, is still in the Top 100 for special categories), got its first UK paperback sale (woohoo!), and is a semifinalist in the Best of the Best ebook contest (its Kindle status qualified it).
I have a lot to catch up on, and am looking forward to getting my energy levels up. I'll say this: don't take this flu lightly. I still think there's a lot of hoopla about it; but, it's not something I wish on anyone. I certainly have more empathy for my students now (not that I had none before), and perhaps that's another good thing to come out of this as well. And I'm bringing a can of Lysol to my office on Thursday. That and some Halloween candy. I would've baked cookies for my students, but I don't think they'd really want anything that my hands touched this week.