Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Flu

When I was 28 years old, I was unemployed and lived at my parent's house due to lack of funds and job offers. They were out of town for weeks on end, leaving my cousin and I (who was also staying with us) on our own. I did nothing but sleep in and drink beer for those three months, and in the middle of it all, I got sick.

Really, really sick.

It started with a fever- I remember waking up one morning feeling like an overcooked Hot Pocket. The chills started in next, followed by coughing, a sinus infection, watery eyes, and occasional vomiting. It's probably how Lindsay Lohan feels every morning after a night of partying and substance abuse.

I crawled down the hall and into the kitchen, my pajamas soaked through with sweat, my hair matted, my mouth covered in foam. I struggled to stand, my hands shaking as I held a cup under the faucet for a drink of water.
"You look like shit," my cousin said, walking into the kitchen. He was on his way to his internship and rummaged in the pantry for some cereal before work. "What's your deal?" He asked.
"Flu," I wheezed, my legs buckling underneath me. I clutched the counter for stability.
"Are you sure it's not something else?" My cousin asked, pouring milk into his cereal bowl.
"It's not a STD," I said, quickly.
My cousin paused. "I just meant like food poisoning or something," he said, confused.

When he left, I realized I had no health insurance and would have to treat this with over-the-counter medicine. I opened my parent's medicine cabinet and found ginkgo biloba, a bag of dried seaweed, and a colon cleansing kit. Damn hippies! I was sick, not headed to a meditation retreat. Jesus, who's dick was I going to have to suck for an Advil?

I spent the day taking cold showers to get my temperature down, taking small sips of Drano in lieu of cold medicine, and making erratic phone calls to my sister through my fever-induced hallucinations.
"Hello?" My sister said on the other end of the phone.
"Sissy?" I slurred from the floor of the bathroom. With one hand I was clutching my cell phone and the other was holding the side of the toilet. The porcelain felt cool against my hot skin. "Is that you?"
"Of course it's me, you called me," she barked, impatient. "How's the job search going?"
"Not so good," I whispered meekly from my spot on the bathroom floor. "Listen....if I die, I want you to have all my money. Go buy yourself something nice."
"Wow, thanks, sis, but I'm not sure what I could purchase with $2.38," my sister responded sarcastically.
"So...rude...." I croaked, watching the tiles on the floor spin in unison. And now- were the tiles dancing? In little top hats?
"I've got to go," my sister said, interrupting the dancing floor tiles and hanging up on me.

The low point of that day came when I stumbled to the fridge in my house, desperate to rid myself of the waves of heat my body was sending off. I was in nothing but my underwear and a sports bra, and in a moment of insanity, tore the freezer door open and grabbed all the frozen vegetable bags out of it. Taking a large roll of duct tape, I attached the frozen bags to my arms and legs, permanently taping the frozen food to my body. Once done, I stumbled into the living room and passed out. It was hours later when I awoke, my cousin shaking me awake.
My eyes fluttered. "Jesus? Is that you?" I moaned.
"Um..." my cousin stared at me blankly. Six bags of melted frozen vegetable bags were taped to various parts of my limbs, my sports bra sweated through and my hair tangled with dirt and dust from the floor. "Is that- are those a bag of carrots duct taped to your thighs?" He asked in horror. "What- what HAPPENED?"

"So....sick......" I whispered, the smell of warmed vegetable melody strong against my bare stomach.

Days later I was finally able to get out of bed, my fever down. I was grateful I had finally recovered from the flu, and now, I needed to get back to my life.

And stock the freezer back up with frozen vegetables.


  1. and now you know what menopause feels like

  2. I did this once. Except without moving from my bed for four days. You get bored of looking at the same spot on your ceiling after a while, but when you're too sick and tired to move and hallucinating because you haven't eaten, it eventually gets interesting again.

  3. Eww...that's what Menopause feels like!?!?

    I'm frightened.

  4. Brilliant.
    You now are my favorite sick person ... ever.

  5. this made me laugh out loud. Thank you.