Well folks, on the eve of Thanksgiving here in New England, I was (figuratively speaking) hit by a truck that most likely was a case of influenza. Vaccinated against the flu more than a month prior, I was hoping---like so many other people around the world---that I would be spared serious illness this winter season, but those hopes were apparently in vain.
That early assault sent me once to the emergency room with the worst chest pain of my life (on the very night that all of the symptoms began), and three times to the nurse practitioner to beg for a bronchodilator and codeine cough syrup. Eighteen days later, I'm struggling with asthmatic bronchitis and am now using inhaled steroids to keep the coughing at bay. As the sun goes down, my lungs seem to naturally fill with congestion, and my level of fatigue is enormous. While I indeed miss exercising and working out, the mere thought of doing twenty laps at the local pool makes me swoon with delirium.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, there have been only 507 positive influenza tests in all of the United States so far this season. This means that only 1.6% of the more than 30,000 specimens submitted for testing so far have actually been positive for influenza. Concurrently, Google's Flu Trends website states quite firmly that, at least in the U.S., influenza activity is quite low, essentially agreeing with the CDC's current data.
No matter the numbers, and no matter how little flu activity is truly being seen out there in the world, those of us who are sure we've already been stricken feel that our Personal Statistic of Significant Suffering (PSSS) is certainly worthy of notice. For myself, I have suffered enough for several winters' worth of illness, and this lingering bronchitis must, on some level, earn me a flu season medal of honor.
For other flu sufferers out there---if you're reading this---one of your own feels your pain, and my wishes to you for a speedy recovery and a subsequently healthy and prosperous winter. And for those of you who have as yet escaped illness, may you continue to be well, and enjoy the holidays and New Year in well-deserved good health.
Stay tuned for more updates on nationwide flu activity as this new Public Health Nurse recovers from his own personal bout of wintry illness and doldrums.