January Flu Break

Dateline: 26 January 2014

My momentum on this series about the family economy has been interrupted by a case of flu virus, which came to me, compliments of my son, who got it from his girlfriend. I felt it coming on and called up reinforcements.... Colloidal silver, garlic, vitamin C, zinc... all to no avail. 

My final attempt to thwart the virus was to take a hot soaking bath. The theory being, super hot water might raise my internal body temperature, simulating a fever, and kill the virus. I soaked as long as I could stand it. Then, on the verge of passing out, with my skin red and steaming, I stumbled into bed and piled the covers on.

As I laid there my ear was folded over and against the bed pillow so that I could feel and hear the amplified pulsations of my heartbeat. Hot baths will shift the heart into overdrive and I imagined I was hearing the beat of an ancient Gaelic war drum (after all, I do have some Scotch blood in my veins). The drumbeat sounded Just Like This (crazy Scots!).

It is a spooky thing to hear your own heart and lifeblood pulsating through your body while you are alone, under the covers, in the darkness of your room, and fever, with it’s mind-altering qualities, creeps upon you. What if, all of a sudden, the beat just stopped? How long would the mind have to contemplate such a thing after the final beat?

But it didn’t stop. The drum of my imagination beat steady and strong and I thought that I might hear bagpipes at any moment:  “Oh Herrick boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling.” 

Yes, I know it’s an Irish song. I’m Irish too. The Scots, The Irish, they fought together, right? I saw the movie.

Were I to have heard The Pipes, I assure you, I would have risen from my bed and gone to battle, because the pipes have that effect on a man, no matter how feverish he may be. I would have grabbed my grandfather’s 1825 militia musket and charged out into the night wearing nothing more than my tartan pajama bottoms.

I would have run into the woods, behind my house to engauge the enemy. I would have looked for the biggest and took him on. The gun hasn’t shot a ball in over a hundred years, but no matter. A Scotsman under the influence of the pipes doesn’t need bullets. I’d hold the musket by the barrel, like a club, and crush their skulls. 

The next morning, the searchers would find my lifeless, frozen body laying next to the biggest maple tree in the woods, with bark chips and gun pieces all around me, and a peaceful look on my face.... “We've never seen a dead man look so happy,” they would say.

Fever brings morbid thoughts. As my temperature increased, so did the pain behind my eyeballs. I was sure I must have had a brain aneurism. I imagined that it would burst and blow at least one eyeball out of its socket. So I would be laying there with my eye dangling by it's optical-nerve-tether against my cheek, and blood spurting out of the socket with every beat of my heart. 

And I wondered what I would do when this happened. Would I feebly call out to my wife who was downstairs, diligently working away at the kitchen table, counting out poultry shrink bags, in increments of 25?  Or would I try walking down the stairs into the kitchen to ask her to call an ambulance? Or would I just lay there and die? 

I determined that I would patiently bleed out. I’m ready to meet my maker (and I truly mean that). Marlene knows where the important papers are. She can operate most parts of the Planet Whizbang business herself. Our three boys would be around to help her. Yes, it would be okay to go.

And wouldn't she be surprised! She's the one who insists that she's going to die before me. because I'm so healthy. Yeah, right, I used to be so healthy.

The fever broke early the next morning. Maybe the hot bath helped. Then came the cough—a dry, unsatisfying, gut wrenching, involuntary, wheezing cough that would not allow me to sleep. 

After two nights of almost no sleep it occurred to me that drugstores sell little bottles of liquid called “cough syrup.” Marlene was in town getting a new pair of glasses. I called her in desperation to tell her I just remembered that it’s possible to buy cough syrup, and I needed some.

She soon returned with the syrup. Grape flavored. I chugged some down, and the cough eventually subsided. It didn’t go away. I still have it. But it is not so bad now. 

Though I was in the grip of flu for the past week, I managed to post my previous two essays on Monday and Wednesday because they were pretty much already "in the can," as they used to say in the film industry.  But the intended final essay, once fresh and excitedly bouncing around in the crevasses of my brain, is now lost. The main points, the phraseology, the adjectives. They have all left me. I typed out four pages yesterday, read it over, and decided it was too long and bumbly. So I'll pick this subject up again someday in the future, perhaps after I read the much anticipated Allan C. Carlson book that launched me into this family-economy train of thought in the first place.

For now, I'm pleased to report, Eric Sloane has agreed to take over as guest blogger here for the rest of January.

Barring any more setbacks, I'll return next month.


Gorges Smythe said...

I recently read that you could stopm a cough by rubbing Vicks Vaporub on the soles of your feet, donning socks and going to bed. I have no idea if it really works.

I know what you mean about the pipes. Everytime I hear them, I want to go out and slay an Englishman, despite being more English than Irish and Scot combined! :-)

Sunnybrook Farm said...

If your burglar alarm played the pipes, the intruder wouldn't stand a chance, a poor fellow that would stumble upon a mad Scotsman.

Cyndi Lewis said...

Not exactly the post to be eating lunch while reading. Rest, drink tea, get an herbal cough medicine and relax. Get well soon.

chipmunk said...

Here's the recipe for homemade cough syrup that i give our patients when the doc refuses to give them another refill of the stuff with codeine in it: equal parts bourbon or whiskey, honey, and lemon. Mix it all up and take a teaspoon twice a day. Works at least as well as the over the counter chemical stuff. Hope you're feeling better soon!

Anonymous said...

Synchronizing yer heart-beat to war drums, bustin' enemy skulls with the butt of yer musket, eyeballs hanging out of their sockets!! Aye, it's the Celt it ya for sure me lad.


Matt said...

Sorry to hear you're under the weather. Add a little ginger to your hot bath next time. Might help a bit.
Here's the cough syrup my wife uses on our family:
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
4 tbsp honey or molasses
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
water if desired.
Take a tsp or 2. It will either get rid of your cough, or make you too scared to cough again.
BTW - thanks for the laugh; the picture of you deliriously smashing the rifle to bits against the "enemy" maple tree was too funny. Hope you get to feeling better.

Dennis said...

Your post made my day. Hope you get to feeling better. DMRenner

Lisa said...

Oh my! Crazy things fever will do to the mind. Lord willing, your thoughts on that essay will return...my husband and I have enjoyed reading your thoughts on the family economy and will look forward to that last essay. Get well. :)

Bill W. said...

People get the flu infrequently enough (about once every 5-10 years on average) that we tend to forget how bad it is. The flu is no fun. You don't shrug it off and work through it like a cold and the recovery takes longer than you expect. Get well!

Sheila said...

I've been up all night, It's 4:30 a.m. First, I listened to the video, my heart started pounding, then I continued to read your post. I have to tell you, by the time I got to the eyeball hanging out, I was almost screaming. I think my entire house felt the tremors from my laughter. I'm having to sit here and calm down before I can't breathe anymore.
That was simply the BEST EVER!
I pray you feel better, and Thank you from my heart, for the best laugh I have had in years. Honest

Anonymous said...

Elderberry juice at the first tingle of a throat tickle or any flu like symptom generally nails it for me. A bit on the pricey side if purchased but worth it. An elderberry commercial product named 'Sambucol' is likely available at a health food store near you, or some wineries produce a non-alcoholic bottle of elderberry juice.