Feb 042017

Nathan has had the flu once—when he was just about a year old. It’s a serious illness for anyone, but particularly for a young child. At the height of it, his fever was climbing a degree an hour with acetaminophen. When it got to 104º with a bullet, we had to give him a cool bath to bring it down. He was so scared and miserable that he didn’t cry. He just kept his eyes closed and breathed in these shallow gasps that I’ll never forget.

He took a fairly quick turn tonight, and that’s a big influenza calling card—sudden onset. Still, he got up to pee a minute ago and was still sufficiently engaged to joke with me a bit, so I’m hopeful. I don’t doubt that he’s got a bug, but hopefully it’s not flu.

We really need to stop the abuse of the term. “Stomach flu” isn’t a thing. Call it what it is—gastroenteritis. People are out of work for a day or two with “a touch of flu”—nope. “Might have been flu”? Nope.

If you don’t know whether you had the flu, you didn’t have the flu. The 1-2 of the febrility and the extreme fatigue is unmistakable misery. A trip to the bathroom takes every shred of energy you have, and when you finally make it back to bed, it feels cold on the inside of your bones and you’re certain you’ll never be warm again ever.

I last had the flu in 1995-96. I was down visiting my mother for Christmas and was showering to drive home, when that flu switch flipped inside my body. I knew it. I didn’t feel bad yet, but I was positive it was coming. I got out, got dressed, and said “Mom, I’m going to be flat on my back in two hours, and I’ll be here at least a few more days. I have the flu.” And that’s how it played out. I stayed another three days, drove back much too early, and was sick for six more. When I had the energy, I sat in the living room floor of my apartment and built the Lego Super Car that was my Christmas present from my thoughtful girlfriend Lea.

Guess we’ll know for sure on Nathan in the morning.

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