A Predictable Cycle

Sometime last friday I encountered someone who was expressing a virus that my body did not have immunity to.

Saturday I felt a bit odd but did not pay attention to it. Sunday I was at the shop, shaping a scabbard for a blade and forging a couple of blanks out of twist damascus. I felt drained, sweaty, and weak, and assumed that being in the proximity of a 2300F furnace and hammering on hot metal had something to do with it. One thing that is pretty cool about forging is that you can really feel when you’re hitting an energy cliff; you can feel yourself getting weak and stupid and having trouble focusing. Or, maybe that’s just getting older. I realized something was wrong when my nose began producing snot, which would drip onto my work and boil away into a little round stain of protein.

By the time I got home I knew something was wrong – I was flipping between bucketing sweat and shivering and the headache had arrived in force. The snot engine went into overdrive and I began wadding tissue paper up my nose to protect the pillowcases when I went to sleep. Last night was exactly what I expected: tossing and turning, hot and cold, feeling sort of trip-tranced out, listening to music and podcasts and neither sleeping nor being fully awake.

This is how it always goes.

Most of the time, the next day, I am done with the feverish and uncomfortable part of the cycle, and all that remains is a week of hawking up successively nastier-smelling green sludge from my lungs. The worst part of it, I think, is that my ability to taste food goes away as soon as the snot engine goes into overdrive.

Today I feel week and light-headed and tired, in spite of being mostly asleep most of last night. I got tired making myself some soup and hot tea for breakfast. I’m probably going to spend most of the day sitting in bed with my laptop and a box of tissues and infinite cups of tea.

One time, in 1997, the normal cycle of getting sick did not track. I woke up the next morning and it felt like I was breathing through a straw (and a small one at that) and that my lungs were approximately the size of a can of soda. I could barely move because I was low on air and it felt like I had to ration my energy. Finally I got to the phone and called dad, “help” He was over in a few minutes and took me to Greater Baltimore Medical Center and shortly afterward I was under an oxygen tent and full of antibiotics. That was how I came to understand that pneumonia can kill, and how it kills, and how fast it kills. When I read about the great ‘Spanish’ influenza epidemic after WWI, I was terrified – I understood exactly what it felt like to fall off that cliff and be struggling to get enough breath to struggle for your next breath. As it happened, I had adult onset chicken pox and I went through the whole nastiness of having the lining of my mouth slough off, blisters, and all that fun stuff. It was a miserable week.

I usually get my flu shots around this time of year, and apparently this year I was a bit late. This thing I am dealing with is just a cold – flu is nastier.

I’m not looking forward to the week of green goop. But it’s a predictable process. Usually.

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A few years ago I had a minor cold/flu and bought a bottle of daytime cough/goop supressant at the grocery store. My usual approach with dayquil or nyquil is I know the dose amount, and just swig it straight from the bottle. The generic cold symptom suppressant had a different dose structure and I wound up taking the equivalent of 3 times what I should of. The feeling of tripped-out disassociation was very interesting. It wasn’t entertaining interesting, it was “wow I really don’t give a shit” interesting.


  1. Jazzlet says

    Sorry I did not write what I intended to then, I’ll try again.
    Sorry a bug has got hold of you, hope it bugs out PDQ

  2. lakitha tolbert says

    I have found that the flu is a lot easier on me than colds. I haven’t had a cold in years, but the last time I did I thought i was dying. (I wasn’t. It just felt like the most horrible thing I’d ever experienced, until I got food poisoning from some bad chicken one time, which was almost, but not quite as bad as appendicitis.)

    I’m in the habit of getting the flu shot every year now because me mum (whose quite elderly) is terrified of getting one, and I want to do my bit to protect her.

    Bottom line of all this nattering on is : I sympathize completely, and hope it passes soon, with minimal difficulty.

  3. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    Always Claritin-D for me during a ear/sinus infection or flu. Plus alternating doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen overlapping ~1 hour to continuously control any feverishness.

  4. dangerousbeans says

    I had a flu last year, which lead to reoccurring tonsillitis. having the back of your throat swell up to the point where you struggle to breath is really scary, i was border line on calling an ambulance. also being intermittently bedridden for two months messed up muscles in my hip, aggravating a birth defect, and i am still recovering from that. the flu is not fun.

    i hope you kick this one quickly, and don’t get anything worse

  5. says

    Thank you all. This is (fortunately) one of the predictable cycle colds – this morning I feel like my strength is back and my brain is back to normal.

  6. says

    I am glad you are feeling better. I had a similar bout with some rhinovirus this weekend too. It is that time of the year after all.

  7. polishsalami says

    It wasn’t confirmed by a doctor, but I’m pretty sure I had the “swine flu” back in 2009. My only concrete memory was sitting in front of the TV, watching Futurama, wondering if I was actually still alive. Then it occurred to me that I must be alive to be wondering about still being alive. My mind was completely shredded.

  8. lorn says

    I recommend sleep, hydration, and, if you can manage it, hot steamy showers. Works for me.

    Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  9. lochaber says

    Glad to hear you are starting to recover.

    The periodic testing of NBC gear with tear gas is one of the few things I miss from the military, taking in a lungful or two of that would clear out your sinuses like nothing else…

  10. says

    taking in a lungful or two of that would clear out your sinuses like nothing else…

    It also always seemed to empty my stomach.

    Fortunately, there’s afrin!

  11. voyager says

    Sorry about the snot. Snot sucks, especially when you want it to blow.
    Stay hydrated, get extra rest and I hope the predictable cycle is just that. And short.

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