Tuesday, April 25, 2017

First flu

My mother declared this to be my first flu, though it seems impossible at my age, me being too old for firsts by now and there having been so very many assorted ailments along the way since that day, long ago, when the doctor rent me from her. Screaming, probably.

I mean to say that I am likely to have been the party doing the screaming, not the doctor. I cannot say for certain.

Almost from the get-go there has been hacking. Fountainous discharges. Infections and wounds of all variety. Over a lifetime, this body has played host to viruses and bacteria big and small, both foreign and domestic, some of which, I imagine, stuck around and remain to this moment, here and now, biding their time.

How can this be my first flu, I wonder. I tell her as much. I say, “How can this be my first flu?” and I say it with audible skepticism, too.

“Well,” she says in way of informed response, “there’s no flu listed in your book.” Across the miles between us, I hear the turning of pages.

My book.

This book, a secret until now, is an awful thing. A chronology of misery. Every hurt and harm of a lifetime documented, from the sore throat to the sprained ankle to the fattened lip.

“You had a lot of ear infections,” she says.

1986 seems to have been the worst of it. The book chronicles twelve months of disaster. Chicken pox and an ingrown toenail and even a summer faint from blood loss after stepping on a bottle in the bayou. Then later, food poisoning from undercooked seafood at seventeen. Pneumonia at nineteen. O, it is a wonder how I have survived to write this blog post!

Most remarkable, to me, is my mother’s commitment to continuing with her project long after I’d reached the age of adulthood. Every complaint mentioned in passing – every “I’m feeling under the weather” – noted with a guess as to intensity and duration.

But no flu.

I swear to you, this horror log shall be the first thing to go upon my mother’s death.

Swallowing my revulsion, I give changing the subject a try. I say, “When was it that Jeff nearly blew off his hand with a pile of gunpowder and a magnifying glass?”

I can tell my mother’s reading.

I say, “Was that in 1988, when that happened?” but there’s just more silence and more reading.

Some time goes by and she says, finally, “I don’t know when that was.”

She says, “I didn’t do one of these books for your brother.” 

40 comments:

  1. Well, flu essentially ​did not exist until a few hundred years ago. It's a recently evolved virus group. So someone did have to be the first, but I thought you would be younger than that.

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    1. I'm not sure that I was the first person to have the flu. I sure whined enough about it that you'd have thought I was.

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  2. craze superb story.quite a novel way, documenting ailness in books.U wrote superbly.I feel sorry that u had to undergo so many trials and tribulations.I mostly never had any health problems naturally but i did a lot of self harm 4 time burning skin,2 times poison.

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    1. Don't do that anymore. I have traveled from the future, and you're going to want to be in tip-top shape when 2021 comes along.

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  3. Caught a nasty stomach flu several months back, it only lasted 30-something hours but it was rough. Best wishes for a quick recovery.

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    1. Thank you. I'm mostly over it now (well, I'm still coughing), but it sure wiped me out for about a week.

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  4. You have your very own 'doomsday' book lol. Sorry to hear you have the flu...feel better soon.

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    1. Thanks. I'm a lot better now, but it lasted over a week, which is ridiculous!

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  5. Due to old age, my body is breaking down... And I'm not to keen to share my data.
    However...

    Big Brother; The Military, Government NGOs Government Health Care Systems and Obamacare have huge data bases

    Little Brother; Insurance companies, Pharmaceutical companies, large companies HSE programs and DNA projects have huge data bases

    Google Trends tracks flu and other outbreaks

    "This book, a secret until now, is an awful thing" - Harry Hamid

    If an AI Bot was feed all this data (with out names) it could be a big step for man kind

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    1. And now, in the US at least, recently enacted legislation means that if I do some searches for "Do I have herpes?" or something, my internet provider can sell that information to companies who want to sell me herpes meds.

      It is a brave new world.

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  6. I think it was more likely to be your mother screaming, or a combination of you both.

    Now some people would argue if you really had flu, you wouldn't be able to write a blog a blog post. So are you sure it's flu? Because if it isn't you'll need to tell your mother so she can update your book to "heavy cold, but making the most of it".

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    1. I was diagnosed by a real live physicians assistant. Two weeks ago. I'm better now. As you point out, there wasn't a lot of writing getting done when I was sick.

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    2. You know I was joking right? I'm glad you are better. I've been ill for the last week too. No fun.

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    3. Hope you're back up and around at full capacity soon. Took me a couple weeks. I'm not used to being off my regular schedule!

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  7. So, what happens if you fill it up, that book? Does your mother count the pages down, hoping she won't reach zero blank pages before she closes her own book?
    Also, it's worth saying, what doesn't kill you make you stronger. The more that's in that book of yours, the more powerful you'll have become.

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    1. Yeah, I was kind of thinking of it this morning as the portrait of Dorian Gray. The book takes on the illnesses so I can go on.

      If nothing else, though, I have a helluva lot of antibodies to anything that might come along.

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    1. I have a feeling a complete documentation of your ailments over a lifetime would be as thick as mine, at least. II'm just saying. I've heard some stories on facebook... from you.

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  9. Get the flu vaccination next time, ya commie.

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    1. I did!

      Back in December, my hematologist gave me a flu shot. They must have been vaccinating for the wrong strain again.

      (My first instinct was to pretend to be an anti-vaxxer in this comment.)

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  10. So many that have the flu have food poisoning in reality. It's good to survive both.

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    1. I have heard that. I believe this was actually the flu, since they stuck a swab thing up my nose to test for it.

      I'd prefer to have neither food poisoning nor flu. I consider myself a survivor even without having suffered too much.

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  11. Would she have have entered the gunpowder incident for your brother? That's not technically an illness, y'know. Perhaps you should have tested her with your own near-death misadventure.

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    1. I believe any kind of pain or injury would qualify, although I'm not entirely sure.

      My brother would have a much longer book, so I'm not sure why she neglected him.

      He almost blew up his hand. Knocked out his front teeth trying to ride a bike without using hands or feet. One time, a man knocked on our front door to tell my mom that a friend and I were rolling my brother repeatedly into traffic inside of a garbage can.

      Thank God kids just play video games all day now, huh?

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    2. rolling my brother repeatedly into traffic inside of a garbage can - I have not heard of that idea before. I do know some neighborhood kids talk a younger one into believing he could fly with a cape and watched him jump off a garage roof. He broke a bone or two I think.

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    3. It is sort of amazing that any of us survive to adulthood.

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  12. Haven't had the actual flu since 2012, but boy did it suck that time.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I never knew how bad it was. I think I might have thought it was just like a cold.

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  13. That seems impossible that for 30 years you have somehow evaded the flu. There has to have been a time when you had the flu but it was undiagnosed. Do you remember a time when you were rocketing chunky fluids from both ends? Think about it. Really, put it in your mind's eye this image of fluid expulsion from your mouth and anus. That had to have happened at some point in your life, you know, sweaty diarrhea and vomiting.

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    1. You always leave the world a little grosser than you found it, don't you?

      I believe you're probably right, though. It is likely that I went undiagnosed at some point in my lifetime.

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  14. I'm the opposite. Once upon a time ago, when I was a little kid, I was sick constantly. Flus, colds, the croup, the shakes, rickets, lumbago, fits of dropsy. You name it. Now I can't even remember the last time I had the flu. Or even a common cold. Not since I was a kid, anyhow. I just don't get sick anymore.

    I don't think I'm indestructible, mind you. I think it's more like Mr. Burns having every single illness on the planet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI0euMFAWF8

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    1. My boss says that we don't get sick very often because we're not around children, who are basically just huge germs.

      The last time I remember getting sick before this was when I went to my nephew's birthday party, which was in one of those places where they have the blow-up jump things. I realized later that crawling around in plastic snot-covered obstacle courses full of children was probably a bad idea.

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  15. well Harry I'm glad you are feeling better! My first flu was the Hong Kong flu which was a pandemic in 1969 ... I was just a mere young thang ... laid up for months but I survived it, though left me with a heart murmur for many years which I outgrew. So if that cough persists or nags at ya, swallow a spoonful of honey!

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    1. Six months! That is a major life event!

      The people at work were bringing me honey. Not because they're overly concerned about my health but rather because they were tired of hearing me cough, I believe. I survived, though.

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  16. Tsk. You're poor brother. So neglected.

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    1. Yes, well, there's just the two of us, and Mom seems to have spent a lot more time thinking about my childhood than his. She promises she's going to make a big book of photographs of his baby pictures someday, but he is 41 now, and it has yet to materialize.

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  17. Never get the flu shot! That makes you sick! Seriously! I have never got one in my life and neither has my mom. And, mom is 76!
    This story made me laugh, especially at the end when your mom didn't have a book on your brother! LOL!
    Get better soon!

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    1. Thanks, Stacy. And apparently, they usually guess this season's flu strain wrong, meaning you can still end up sick even with the vaccine.

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  18. That is a great source for bringing back and verifying old memories. Don't toss it. Maybe donate it to science? I wish I had a record of the many misfortunes I had. The stories have faded over time.

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    1. Some stories ought to be forgotten, maybe. But yes, I suppose it is good to know someone is paying attention to my life.

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