Sunday, October 25, 2009

A message from flu to you

Well, just in case anyone but myself reads this here blog (would that make me a masterblogger?), I'd like to explain my week-ish disappearance from this here particular cyber space.

Today, on the day the page-one headline on our local newspaper is about Obama's declaring the H1N1 virus a national emergency, I'd like to add my own recently humbled and still-frail voice: dudes and dudettes, ye so-called Swine Flu is an ass-kicker. I think and hope I have come out the other side of my own personal week of pig-wrestling, but I want to warn you all, this pig can flatten you.

Just ask Webb. My 16-year-old son got very ill last weekend -- high fever, violent retching cough, a grey pall over his flesh, general misery -- which led my wife and I to take the precaution of getting him checked out. Sure enough, the misnomered Swine Flu had come to our home, and brought with it early-stage pneumonia. The two doctors we consulted were alarmed, but glad we'd gotten him checked out as soon as we did. He was prescribed Tamiflu and antibiotics, and after a few long days and nights, seems to have recovered.

This pig of an illness, though, just moved to a new pen -- yours truly.

From Tuesday afternoon on, I have been pounded. Not violently ill, like some 24- or 48-hour blights and do -- but deep, low, full-body-sapping ill. An ill like getting sunken under a heavy, steady, slowly crushing weight. An ill like I have never been in my 50 years of experience.

A truly humbling ill.

No, I never thought I was going to die or anything. And I know that even a bad case of the flu is a far distance from those many more ailments and afflictions that can really make you wrap your arms around the Reaper's waist. But it offered at least jarring glimpse, like a face seen in a flash of lightning in the window, of what can happen to what has long been a reliable and dependable and strong body. And how easily it can happen.

And, according to my doctor -- who, the day before this virus decided to make its home in my body, gave me an "excellent health" thumbs up in my annual check up -- I'm supposed to be in the class of folks most resistant to the Swine Flu: those who were young during the flu pandemic of the late 1960s.

So let me say: If I'm "most resistant," then everyone else had better take this shit seriously. And it makes me damn glad we took it seriously with my son. For, folks, you're listening a newly and very humbled man. I've been blessed with good healthy and strength all my life, and, aside from a few token vices (my motto: "Everything in moderation, including moderation") have worked to maintain that good health.

But this ... was different.

I'm happy to say that, once again, the blessed and mysterious and divine Immune System seems to won the battle.

But now I know to append to that statement of victory: This time.

The question now, then, is: What to do with this new-found insight, this fresh -- and tangible -- reminder of mortality and temporality and inevitability? With this gift of humbleness?

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