Each year, early October, marks the beginning of the flu season. It usually winds down around May, with December through February being the peak months for feeling bad, having aches, and pains, enduring extreme discomfort, being miserable, suffering fatigue and extreme chills, and having a general malaise. I don’t know about the flu, but that’s exactly how I feel after spending a Saturday doing chores for my mother-in-law! I wonder if she’s like that woman nicknamed “Typhoid Mary,” from the early 1900’s who made everyone who came in contact with her incredibly sick.
Medical experts have said, new strains of antibiotic resistant germs and super bugs are out there, and we may be facing worldwide influenza pandemics in the coming years. Scary, huh? It’s not just the flu, but the common cold, which is spreading, and making our daily lives difficult. This week at work, it seemed almost everyone was coughing, sneezing, or wiping runny noses. I just read an interesting article about the most common ways that illnesses our spread. They include: physical contact with an ill person, touching contaminated objects or surfaces like shopping carts, or Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, getting bites from animals or insects, and traveling by airplane. What if I’m sitting next to a sick person on an airplane, and they bite me on the arm? Worse yet; what if, as they nibble on my foreman, they also, simultaneously choke me with one hand, while clubbing me senseless with a food tray? Does this mean, I should increase my life insurance, and update my will, because I’m definitely a goner?
How many of you have had to deal with what I call, a “cold denier?” They’re the person you work with, who comes in looking like one of those sickly, shuffling, messed-up-looking zombies from the “Walking Dead” television series. Chances are, they’re in the same cubicle as you, or nearby at your workplace. They could be wheeled into work on a stretcher, with IV’s attached to both arms, and have a stack of tissue boxes precariously balanced on their chests, but will still claim they’re perfectly fine. They’ll say they just have a slight cough, a mildly sore throat, and their nose is running. I’ll usually reply, “Well, your nose just ran out the door, and is heading home to bed. You better follow it.” Sorry about that folks. It was too easy to pass up, and I couldn’t help myself. I might even say to them, “Hey you’re right. I don’t think you have the common cold. Let me pull out my medical dictionary, and see what ails you. Hmmmm….. It appears you have, either hepatitis, leprosy, the bubonic plague, or gettheheckawayfrommeitis.”
How many of used have ever faced, not only a very sick person, but a “close talker,” as well? These are the people with no respect for your personal space, and they could have boils on their face the size of golf balls, but will stand mere inches from your previously germ-free body. They will also talk very slowly with their mouths opened wide, and enunciate every word as they say, “H—o—w a—r—e y—o—u? Did you ever reply, “Well, I was fine until four billion of your microscopic, but deadly germs, just splattered my entire face, body, and extremities?”
I was wondering if any of your spouses, partners, or significant others seem to be particularly affectionate, or even overly frisky when they are suffering from a cold or flu? My wife loves to kiss me, hug me, rest her head on my shoulder, or snuggle when she’s not feeling her best. She’s a good woman, and I think she needs some attention and comfort, so I do my best to accommodate her without catching what she has. At times, I’ve utilized one of those dust masks to prevent germs from passing between us. I once, even wrapped her face in Saran wrap to stop the spread of communicable viruses. To be honest, it didn’t go over too well. Between her face going blue, the look she gave me, as I frantically removed the clinging plastic material from around her head, and her words afterward – it wasn’t pretty.
I’ve been looking at ways to avoid suffering a debilitating case of the flu this year. I just got a flu shot at my local Wal-Mart yesterday for twenty dollars. Did any of you ever get a flu shot at a local retailer, the neighborhood pharmacy, or in the lunch room at work? Did you get sick afterward? Was the person administering the vaccine an old boyfriend, girlfriend, or an ex-spouse? Did they use a needle as thick as a pencil, make thirty-nine attempts to administer the shot, and smiled during the entire ordeal? Are flu shots typically injected into your exposed buttocks? Does the medical professional usually take multiple pictures, during and after the process? I was just wondering.
I read somewhere that the flu virus, and colds are most often, spread by children. That’s not only scary, but pretty hard to avoid. What do you do if your young child comes home from daycare, or kindergarten, gives you a big wet kiss, and says, guess what I did today?” When you ask what, they reply, “I hugged twenty-eight people, including my teacher, Mrs. Gumpert. I only got to hug her once, before nice people showed up, put her on a soft little bed, carried her to a cool, red and white truck with flashing lights, and drove away, real fast.” As you get older, and your immune system isn’t as strong; you face a new foe, in the never-ending battle to avoid colds and flus. They’re called, “grandchildren.” If you somehow manage to escape getting sick from cute, adorable, and precious children who love their ganma, and papa; you have to deal with all those rotten little neighborhood kids. I know what you’re thinking. Patrick’s, slowing turning into a grumpy old man. Maybe I am. I’ll tell you this, though. I’ll be one heck of a healthy, grumpy old man.
I may have found a better way to keep myself from getting sick. I’ve decided to start avoiding people as much as possible. I may also have to stop shaking hands, thoroughly decontaminate my son when he comes home from college, wash my hands three-hundred times a day, drink six glasses of orange juice in the morning, and use those antiseptic wipes at supermarkets to meticulously disinfect those breeding grounds for germs called shopping carts. The problem is, there’s just too many people, they’re always crowding around me, and half of them should be in hospital isolation wards. Yesterday, my neighbor, Burt, who has eight kids who are always sick, finally returned my hedge trimmer after three months. I spent an hour spraying it with a powerful disinfectant, to kill what had to be enough germs on it, to sicken an elephant. Unless I become a hermit, move to a cave in the mountains, and swear off any human contact, I figure I’m going to eventually get sick.
Do you think monks living in isolated monasteries, or those holy men living high in the mountains of Tibet ever get sick? I doubt it. Do you know why? Because there’s no people coughing in their faces! I’ll bet you, there’s a guy of at least a hundred and twenty years old living alone in an isolated cabin, somewhere in the Alaskan wilderness. He somehow survives sub-zero temperatures during brutal winters, trudges through six feet of snow to hunt for food, and single-handedly drags six-hundred-pound caribou back to his cabin, while fending off packs of huge and vicious wolves. If you ask him, he’ll tell you that he’s never been sick a day in his life. The hardy old codger will probably live another twenty or thirty years. What do you think would happen, if he were flown to New York City, spent two or three days riding the subway, walked the streets among vast masses of humanity, and ate a few hot dogs off those vendor’s carts? Yes – the poor old guy would be dead within a week.