Two Novembers ago, I was stuck in the hospital with pneumonia. I’d been diagnosed with the flu two days prior at the urgent care center. That day, I’d waited for my husband to get home from work because I didn’t feel well enough to drive myself to the doctor’s office.
I wasn’t surprised to learn I had the flu. I felt bad enough. I recalled how it’d been over a decade since I’d had the flu so I figured I was due. The only thing I remembered from that time was my husband’s near-carrying me the few steps from our front door to the car. I was that sick.
What was surprising this time was that instead of getting gradually better, I got gradually worse, so much worse that in less than 48 hours I barely had the strength to dress myself to go back to the urgent care. When I reported chest pain, their mood changed from what can we do for you? to how soon can we get you out of here?
They offered to call 911, but I said we’d drive the couple of miles to the hospital ER, where, after innumerable hours of waiting, during which they stuck me for blood and IV placement, and took x-rays of my lungs, it was determined that I had pneumonia.
I knew I was bad off. My fever was soaring and I was drowning. When my husband said, “Maybe they’ll send you home,” I heard myself say, “I’m afraid to go home.” As if from outside myself, I realized how truly terrified I felt at the thought of leaving the haven of the hospital.
By the end of five days, I was ready to blackmail someone into letting me go home. By then, the heavy-duty IV antibiotics had done a number on those nasty little bugs in my lungs.
I’ve put these memories away for the most part, memories that are only triggered every October when I take steps to prevent another “November.” Until last Saturday, when my seven-year-old granddaughter, who lives with us, became listless and feverish. She wasn’t displaying asthmatic symptoms, which are par for the course for her when she has a cold, probably because she didn’t have a cold.
My daughter wanted to wait till Monday to have her seen at the doctor’s office, but I nixed that idea. The fact that she presented no other symptoms to explain the high fever was concerning. Sunday she was diagnosed with Influenza A.
I was relieved to know what it was, but I was also worried about how it would affect her, and afraid that the rest of us would succumb. For the next few days I watched her acutely for any worsening, while I tried to tamp down my worry. But she took it like the trooper that she is, instinctively resting and taking in a lot of fluids. And after lolling around the house for three days, she returned to school. Yesterday, she came home tired but in good spirits.
My fingers are crossed that we in this house are done with the flu for this year. It’s too soon to tell if anyone else will come down with it. All we can do is watch and wait. And that brings me to my original question: Have you gotten a flu shot?