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Open Flavor Friday: Flu Season

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Our Friday off-topic biopic explores the journey of one man’s desire to never be sick ever and his failures along the way.

Grippol Plus vaccine production at NPO Petrovax Pharm factory Photo by Anton Novoderezhkin\TASS via Getty Images

The holidays came and went. New Years resolutions are happening, so stick to it. But in the midst of all this, it’s also flu season, and I have a confession to make: I’m sick.

No, I’m not sick and tired of the daily grind or any other type of disgruntled behaviors. I’m just legitimately sick.

It’s not bad though, I’ve definitely been sicker. This initially started with a fever and cold sweats, which has now turned into something more similar to pneumonia without worrying me enough to make me think it’s actually pneumonia.

I don’t get sick that often and very rarely am I sick enough to where I do anything about it beyond just dealing with it. That can be a problematic attitude, to just power through and trust my body to handle it, because what if one day my body can’t?

Like all of us, I was sick a lot more often when I was a child than I am as an adult. I went to the hospital with pneumonia on my 5th birthday and all the nurses were extremely sympathetic. I remember being nauseous all the time, so much throw-up, but I wonder if that just happens to be because my memory glosses over anything that wasn’t noteworthy and getting sick off the top of a bunk bed classifies as something noteworthy. I don’t know how the brain works, I’m not a scientist.

But I remember one time when I was 11, I ordered a meatball sub from Subway and it ruined me. It ruined me. Did Pepto Bismal help? Oh goodness no, that just made a messy situation that much worse. That meatball sub changed my life forever, because after that bout of food poisoning, I promised myself to never throw up again in my life.

The results so far have been a mixed bag. In college I chugged a liter of lemon concentrate. That made me throw up. Also in college I was challenged to a water-chugging contest and I made it through 8 glasses before my body noped it back out of me. But throwing up due to being sick? One time.

I was in Africa a few years back. Those who know me will attest that I’m a fairly picky eater, and I won’t deny that. I knew going into my month-long trip to Sub-Saharan Africa that my diet would have to be more flexible, that I couldn’t turn my nose up at everything because I didn’t like the texture. So I went into my trip knowing I’d have to keep an open mind.

That lasted one day.

Day two I got food poisoning and it was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know if it was the Papaya or the overcooked meat sautéed in fish oil, but I spent the next 6-8 hours dying in a place with no running water. Worse yet, I was in an area where Malaria is a very real and distinct possibility and most nights you’re recommended to stay inside your mosquito net, but you don’t always have that luxury when your body is expelling every item that’s not currently tied down to my insides. After that night I had a hard time eating any prepared food other than beans or rice. I think it might’ve been the fish oil honestly. But after that 2nd night, I was in the clear and haven’t had any other episodes since my return back to the states.

As an adult I seem to get a mild flu every year, the thing I’m struggling with now. Some years ago it lasted about two months, which my mother attests was walking pneumonia, but what do Mom’s know anyway? Mostly these illnesses manifest as fevers, sore throats, and a cough. Nothing major.

I was diagnosed with the Swine Flu some time back, but that was barely a blip on the radar; sore muscles and a fever that lasted for two days.

A few years back I also had a random bout of vertigo that lasted about a week, which I’d never experienced before. I did go to a clinic for that, where the doctor said I had a swollen eardrum which was messing with my equilibrium. He said it was probably a virus, but I didn’t tell him that I’d actually gone a little too deep cleaning my ears out about a week earlier. Oops!

There’s always the risk that toughing it out is going to come back to bite me one day, that I’ll being attempting to power through something that’ll be more serious than I was anticipating. It’s a risk and as I continue aging that risk becomes greater and greater. But for the most part I’ve been lucky to be relatively healthy ever since that meatball sub.

You know, I’ve never had another meatball sub since that time when I was 11. I used to love those things. It’s weird how that food association will stick with you for a lifetime.

What about you? What were your worst illnesses? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to combat them?