Anybody wanna hang out with me today? Me and the flu that is..

A post shared by Sean Dent (@seanpdent) on

For the past 7, or 8.. maybe 9 (I really don’t know, I’ve lost count) days I’ve been a house hobbit spending my days transferring my weight from my bed, to my couch and my office chair. I succumbed to the dreaded influenza, or as we all like to call it the ‘flu’. (I have come to fondly refer to it as death, though)

I must admit I do not remember ever being at this level of ‘sick’ before in my lifetime. Truth be told, this has taken the new top spot on just how sick my human body can really get (that is before I’m hospitalized).

I consider myself a fairly healthy guy, with a pretty strong immune system. In the past 5, maybe 10 years I think I’ve been truly ‘sick’ that required me to barricade myself in my house. It seems the current influenza strain(s) had a very different opinion of me and my so-called immune system.

As a health care provider, I was well aware that Influenza was a tad bit more severe this year. Thanks to the CDC website, and my own personal & professional experience, I knew that my neck of the woods in particular was hit hard with severe strains of Influenza. Not only was I treating many patients with refractory Influenza requiring hospitalization, but many of my friends (at least 3 or 4) were also battling the illness at home.

I also knew that the current Influenza strain was affecting the younger population more than previous years. The healthier middle-aged population was getting side-swiped with this virulent virus.

In retrospect, I was exposed to the virus QUITE a bit over the last 6 weeks. I guess I should not have been shocked when I started developing the signs and symptoms? (I can hear Home Simpson’s voice in my head…. DOH!)

Oh, and for all the naysayers out there, yes, I got the seasonal flu vaccine this season. I get the vaccine every year. Always have, always will. The flu vaccine does not prevent the flu, it doesn’t give you the flu. What it does do  is increase your odds of fighting off the virus. It always has, and will always be a gamble, as the vaccine that is produced annually is based on previous disease outbreak evidence. I always get the vaccine to help stack my deck against the susceptibility of the illness.

Needless to say I’ve suffered through a week or more of this nastiness, I’ve been taking the over the counter medications like their vitamins, keeping hydrated and finally raising the white flag and seeing my PCP to make sure I don’t have some additional super-infection festering in the shadows of this darn flu illness.

My recent ‘camping’ trip on my couch over the past 8+ days has proved enlightening. I thought I’d share some thoughts with you concerning how cool it is to get the flu:

  1. Water tastes the same as coffee
  2. When you sneeze your truly understand what sinus pressure is all about
  3. Gravity breathing through one nare is an art and a science
  4. Your hair hurts.. even when your bald
  5. You discover a new kind of drunk – alcohol’s got nuthin’ on OTC cold meds. Word.
  6. The darth vader-like voice you have only pales in comparison to the 1-900 voice you acquire as the illness progresses
  7. You truly discover just how comfortable (or uncomfortable) your couch truly is
  8. You become a kleenex connoisseur
  9. Brushing your teeth is now a full-fledged chore
  10. This is the one time of the year when showering is truly optional
  11. You acquire a profound respect for intracranial pressure (ICP) every single time you cough – because your ICP increases so much that your eyeballs slightly pop out of their sockets each time you cough

Be safe out there everyone. Wash your hands. Get the flu shot.

Excuse me while I get another Kleenex…

Sooner or later…… everyone gets sick

sick_in_bed_sfw

I rang in my birthday this year curled up on the couch in the fetal position trying to survive one of the worst sinusitis infection I have ever had.

I think the source of my illness jumped across the bacterial / viral line quite a few times over that 10-14 day period! One minute I felt it was viral with the body aches, generalized pain everywhere and that energy-zapped life-less body movement thing. I swear it took everything in me just to get out of bed and fall onto the couch. I mean my eyeballs hurt to blink and the hair that I don’t have on my head hurt!

Then it transitioned to the gravity-dependent, my head is going to explode sinus-focused terror. My head felt like a 100lb dumbbell and I reveled during those very brief moments of breathing through both nostrils.

I missed a whole week of school – and that was AFTER spring break. Thankfully I didn’t miss much other than class time.

WHEW

Fast forward about 14 days and a wonderful Z-pack later. I still have some sniffles lingering -nothing like when I was down and out – but annoying none-the-less at times. I’m back at school, back to the gym, back to feeling my humanish self again.

I just wanna know where the heck did I catch that darn bug? What did I do wrong? Do differently??!!

I haven’t had a ‘head-cold’ in over 3 yrs. I quite honestly I cannot remember the last time I was ever that sick?? If I had lost my appetite I surely would have been hospital bound. Thankfully I could consume soup on a daily basis and I forced the fluids as much as I could tolerate.


As a side note – I never, ever realized how dehydrated one can get just from oozing and blowing mucus from their nostrils??!!

Sorry – overshare.


Anyhoo.. Back to me and my immune system. What the heck happened? I mean I work in a hospital. Cross many-a-paths with the sick and ill. My poor wife has battled through a couple dooozy’s of a illness over the past couple years. I’ve been exposed to H1N1. I have had my flu shot annually (including the H1N1 vaccine).

I wash my hands too much in my opinion – since my hands get so dry they crack and split at my fingertips at times.

I don’t use nor abuse the darn hand sanitizer gels (no antibiotic resistance here).

I take my vitamins. I eat right. I sleep a ‘decent’ amount (not great, but decent).

???

The only thing that was new in my ‘equation’ of life has been school. Or should I say Graduate school. I started NP school this past fall.

The only real difference I can postulate is the fact that I’m ‘burning my candle at both ends’. I took a heavy load of classes this semester. I definitely bit off more than I could chew with multiple assignments from different classes pelted at me as if it’s target practice. I commute 4 days a week to class. So my day is choc-full of deadlines on a weekly basis. I do things in ‘chunks’ since I’m either in my car or in class most of my week.

Stress.

I think the self-induced wallop of stress definitely knocked my immune system down a few notches.. And with the right combination one of those damn ‘bugs’ got me.

Ahh well. Live and learn.

Lessons learned:

  • I will never take this many graduate classes at one time ever again
  • I will not commute this many times in one week ever again
  • It doesn’t matter how healthy you think you are – the bugs are stronger
  • It doesn’t matter how strong you think you are – the bugs are stronger
  • Sooner or later…… everyone gets sick

Can you hear me now?

snuffle

Today was the first day since the inception of this darn wicked sinusitis infection that I actually had my normal voice. My infected sinus voice was a mix of Snuffaluffagus and Wolfman Jack. It wasn’t pretty.