Message from the Flu Zone

“Are you having chills right this minute?” my Significant Republican wanted to know. “’Cause I’m feeling really hot. I think I’m going to open the window.” It was kind of hard to come out of my sleeping stupor for a reply. I mustered up an affirmative: “Mmm.”

Welcome to my nightmare.

I never get sick. But this fall, I’ve already had a nasty respiratory thing. And now this post-Thanksgiving virus. I knew something was wrong late Saturday night. Head throbbing. Sticky. Sweaty. Crampy, nauseated, nasty. Couldn’t sleep. Food poisoning? I thought of the turkey carcass that my daughter and I had harvested earlier. I considered waking her up to see if she was sick, too. Nah, too dizzy and weak to walk to her room.

I tossed and turned all night. The next morning, I couldn’t get out of bed. I’m usually up at 6 a.m. or so. Finding me in bed after 8 a.m. is an anomaly.

Is this the flu? At the I Got Flu Web site,, symptoms described match my own: “The onset of flu often seems sudden: people describe feeling ‘like I’ve been hit by a truck.’ Common flu symptoms include sudden onset, fever and chills, cough, muscle and joint pain, headache, fatigue and weakness.”

I slept most of Sunday, not reading the local daily newspaper’s story “Flu Outbreak Widespread, Officials Say.” Those quoted by the Associated Press worry that this season could be worse than usual—and Washoe County is among the hardest hit. The story ends on a bright note: “In an average year, the disease infects up to 20 percent of the U.S. population, killing about 36,000 Americans and hospitalizing 114,000.”

And we’re fighting a war on terrorism?

Sunday, I slept in the car while my permitted-but-not-licensed daughter drove around to shop and fill out job applications. I made dinner, didn’t feel like eating, took an hour nap. I stumbled out to the computer and tried to play a video game called The Sims that I haven’t played in years.

The Sims is an intense game where you micromanage the lives of little animated humans. It’s exhausting. I created a family (Lyle and Lacey) and built a house that my kids declared “cool,” but then I survived only one virtual day (about five minutes) of actual game play. Forcing cartoon characters to be attentive to the needs of their bladder oddly doesn’t seem like a good use of time. I quit playing when Lyle started a fire in his ‘toon kitchen.

“You didn’t put in a fire alarm!” my daughter informed me, a bit late. “You’ll have to call the fire department.”

“This is too much work.”

Plus I was dripping and indigesting. Felt like someone shoved marshmallows through my ears then stuck my head in the microwave. I took another nap.

I woke up in time for the new episode of The Simpsons. I remember watching the show come on. Then, nothing. At some point, I crawled off the couch and went back to bed. The last thing I remember is my husband opening the window.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and went to work Monday. Of course, I was completely better. Flu sufferers are supposed to “stay home if ill.” Yeah.

Maybe I should have gotten a flu shot. This Friday, shots are given 8 a.m. to noon at Saint Mary’s Community Wellness, 745 W. Moana Lane. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you can get shots 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Washoe County District Health Dept. Call 328-3724.

It takes about two weeks before the shots kick in. In the meantime, you’re at risk. So stay away from co-workers, classmates and busy shoppers who think the worst is over and don’t feel like staying home.