I Opened the Door …

“I opened the door, and influenza!” Well, that used to be a bit of a joke in earlier years. Right now, it’s a little hard to smile let alone laugh, because I think it recently flew in through one of my doors! It all started a couple of weeks ago. Just how, I’m not sure, because this flu seems to cloud one’s mind a bit. There have been the usual hot spells, the chills, the sniffles and the snorts, but the two things that stand out in my memory are a) an overwhelming sense of weakness and b) a mind that works at a far slower rate than it normally does. Most of the time, I have a zombie-like feeling. I do admit many a person has said things about me over the course of time that suggests I may have a bigger problem than just the flu, such as:
• His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top, or
• He’s not playing with a full deck, or
• He’s lazy, he’s idle, or
• He looks awful, or
• He’s quite cranky!, or
• Eccentric? You wanna believe it!, or
• Gee, he’s slow!, or
• He always overeats!, or
• He won’t eat a thing!, or
• If you ask him the time, he’ll tell you how to make a watch! Or
• He’s shorter than he used to be!, or
• “Hate ya, cos your feets too big; mad at ya, cos your feets too big!, or
• Who does he think he is, anyway??

You get the general idea! Not everyone loves you in this world, but you learn to live with it. Luckily, there’s a few that hang in there with you despite your alleged shortcomings. (Not everyone recognizes perfection when they see it. It is just another example of the world’s short-sightedness. I found the same thing in the armed forces; everyone was out of step except me!)

However, when that flu bug comes whistling through the door I am forced to admit some imperfections. In fact, I am forced to admit to quite a few imperfections. I can’t help my shortness or the length of my feet, and it’s not true that I’m eating a lot right now. But most of the other charges are now indefensible! When you have the flu, or I should say when I have the flu, all those charges are justified. I know! I’ve been told, AND I looked in the mirror one day! (Just the once, mind you; I couldn’t face looking a second time.)

What has surprised me the most is how long this thing lasts! I figured, give it a week and it’ll be all over. Well, I have had a few false recoveries! Just when I think I’m over it, I get another round of fever or chills. (A trip to Loblaw’s the other day was so exhausting; I was flat on my back when I got back home.) And driving? Well, I think I did okay, but I took it extra slow because my reaction time was slower and my field of vision seemed to be smaller. The world seems to shrink down to a rather small battlefield when you’re fighting the flu. Actually, that isn’t correct either! You don’t really fight the flu – it fights you. All you can do is try to keep your guard up. It is a particularly dangerous time for seniors, partly because we have already fought a few battles in our long life. We are more vulnerable than the younger set, and it pays to keep that in mind!

My body instinctively craved orange juice and Vitamin C. They seem to be very necessary at this time. But I had no appetite, and even my favourite foods weren’t attractive. The portion size? Give me a quarter of what I might I otherwise eat, because anything more than that will remain on the plate. What I have been doing is sleeping, sleeping and sleeping again. At times, I feel guilty about staying in bed so much. I can never quite figure out whether I should maximize my resting or whether I should be doing some exercise. Laziness usually settles for more sleep.

And by the way if you have any outstanding beefs with me, “Carpe diem!” Seize the day, seize the opportunity, because I’m not in any great shape to fight back right now. This is the time to win your argument! I’m a pushover right now. However, there is one small side benefit to this virus in my own case. That is, I am losing some of my extra pounds – but if you don’t have too many of those to start with, be careful; this virus can chew up quite a few pounds while you’re not looking.

You really need some contact with the outside world at this time. If you live alone, recognize the danger of being alone. If you are half of a couple, realize that you may both come down with it at the same time, unable to get out and get even a few supplies.

So, having said all that, what should you do? I don’t really know, to be honest! (I guess our staff can better answer that question.) But I do realize that many seniors could find themselves in a serious situation once that virus gets inside the door. All I know for sure is, don’t take this little bug lightly! He’ll knock you around and he has no respect for age or the Marquis of Queensbury Rules. He also hits below the belt!

Gerry Wood, Jan 24, 2015