I’ve been sick with the flu now for just over two weeks. In the beginning, I had all the symptoms that lay one low, such as high fever, muscle aches, headache, weakness, etc., etc., but those all went away in about three days. What I was left with after that was fatigue and a cough, which got worse and worse until I also developed laryngitis, which lasted several days. Add that to a lack of sleep due to the cough, and I was pretty miserable.
The cough was still with me and didn’t seem to be getting any better, and in fact seemed a bit worse, so I knuckled under yesterday and went to see the doctor. After a thorough examination, he said there was nothing he could do for me. “You’re in the waning stages of the flu now; you have maybe another week to go to be completely over it. You’ll just have to wait.”
Wait, he said. That’s a four-letter word, for sure. People who know me know I’m not good at waiting. I hate waiting in lines; there’s almost no performer or show I’d wait in line more than a few minutes to see. Nor do I like to be kept waiting. Years ago a friend, sensing my impatience at the slowness of receiving our order at a restaurant, said to me, half-jokingly, “I’m going to buy you a pack of ‘patience seeds’ because you’ve never been able to grow any patience of your own.” I’ve mellowed a bit over the years, but patience still eludes me much of the time.
I expressed to the doctor that I was a bit envious of the people around me who had had the flu and seemed to recover more quickly than I have. Then he said something that has stayed with me, that “maybe their immune systems are working better than yours.” That jarred me a bit, because that was something that didn’t involve waiting; it was something reasonably within my control. I hadn’t been very helpful to my immune system as of late. I wasn’t getting enough sleep much of the time, wasn’t eating enough fruits and vegetables (sounds strange for a vegetarian, but French fries and “fake meat” alone do not a healthy diet make), wasn’t exercising regularly, was letting stress get the better of me again. But that was encouraging, because it was something I could do something about right now.
However, even with my good intentions to boost my immune system, I will still have to wait out the rest of the flu. Will it have helped teach me a bit of patience? No! What it will have taught me is to get a flu shot, get a pneumonia vaccination, avoid crowds during flu season, remember not to touch my eyes, nose or mouth after having been out and about without washing my hands first, and to give my immune system all the help it can get.