Memories of influenza 

Today blurred as it picked up speed around me. I found myself writing random dates in people’s charts, and had to correct at least half before continuing. First it was the day, then the year, and finally the month that escaped me.

Once I finally figured out how to write the date, it struck me it may be time to check my memory. I shrugged and got my flu shot on the memory unit instead.

I get the flu shot every year, and I haven’t missed one since 2008, when I was too sick to get it. 

I still remember how I felt that June. I went to clinic like a normal day, and within a half hour, before my first patient showed up, I felt suddenly unwell. 

Like the kind of unwell that made me feel like I’d been hit crossing the road with a hot ice cream truck- everything ached, shivers and sweat poured down my back. 

For the first and only time in my life, I immediately went home sick. 

I spent the next 4 days in bed, on my back, too sick to watch tv or read a book.

It hurt to walk to the bathroom and I couldn’t breathe. 

I listened to my clear lungs and took useless Advil and Tylenol as I slipped in and out of what I would call a true delirium. 

Finally, my two doctor-friends dragged my denial-fuelled backside into the hospital for a beautiful two litre bolus of normal saline.

It felt like a refreshing jump into an ice cold pool. 

Luckily, I recovered. It took almost a month for me to be able to return to work, as I got another flu the week after. 

It took me until the fall to be able to run again, after being able to run two hours.

But I didn’t die, like other women that year. And I didn’t go to the icu, like other people I’ve known. Compared to them, my version of H1N1 was tame.

I did walk away with the most amazing parting gift anyone could have from that experience. 

One of my friends brought me ginger ale. And then he visited, and kept me company as I recovered.

He’s still great at making me feel better whenever I feel tired or sick. And he’s still my best friend.

Today I remembered how awful I felt when I had the flu, and recommended the flu shot to several people. 

While I may have lucked into a wonderful life the one year I didn’t get my shot, I’m not eager to experience it again any time soon.

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