Meet my little friend: THE FLU

I got the H1N1 this week, and with term papers piled in front of me and finals around the corner, it was pretty much the best possible timing (Italics meant to convery sarcasm).

I also still work for the paper, and had to write something… so this is what came out of a feverish and very spotted mind:

My fellow scholars, this all too dangerous time of year lays many pitfalls for the unwary academic to fall into. Missed paper deadlines, corrupted files, stress, lack of sleep, obtuse professors, unclear assignment details, canceled office hours, and the very worst of them all: the flu.

Yes, H1N1 has preoccupied our minds and health clinics for the last two months but its less pretty and almost forgotten sister is still hanging around, waiting to fill that glass slipper. According to health officials, there are three to four strains of the flu floating in our air stream that are not H1N1 related, and this editor was lucky enough to catch one of them.

Lest you think this is some self-pitying diatribe, please let your eyes be at ease. This little piece of text is nothing of the sort. The following is merely offered as a warning, and a guide, to you.

First, to warn you defenseless student: stress and late nights are the number one way to lower your immune defenses and invite pathogens aplenty into your body. I have spent the last two and a half weeks lying to myself, plying myself with coffee and baked goods to stay awake long into the night and getting up far before my mind or body was ready. It took a toll on the work I produced and now has taken me entirely out for the count.

Not to be around people, I can’t attend class; I sleep nearly fourteen hours a day (I had to nap three times while writing this), thus nullifying any hopes of productive sick days. Sick days are great, but only when you are not so sick you can still function and thus use them to catch up; I am not in that category.

While you can pretend that the term paper, or exam you are losing sleep over is worth it, it only gives you a one way ticket to vom-town. Sexy, amirite? Never one to follow my own advice, I did not heed this common sense and instead spent several successive days awake in the past month, fueled only by stress, coffee, and delicious breakfast bagels.

As great as those bleary eyed days were, I am now confined to bed, and occasionally the couch, watching Animaniac’s and stressing out about the work piling up, work I have absolutely no energy or cognitive ability to complete. Thank god for the flu registry.

Now, let’s say you heed none of my well worded and wisdom laden advice and go straight for your third large fair trade of the afternoon. Here are some things you can get accomplished while feverishly bed-ridden, because you will be soon:

– Stop smoking: You are coughing so hard your lungs are exploding, you have a headache like Mt. Vesuvius, and you are shivering like a Canadian nudist colony in February. Smoking, although it feels really, really good will only make you regret every wrong decision in your life to this point. Use these five days when walking to the bathroom seems like a chore to quit smoking. It’s bad from you, from what I hear, and it makes you smell. The coughing and wheezing that will ensue it not worth it.

– Watch documentaries: Get smart all while lying down. Even if you snooze during the films, there has to be some sort of sensory retention in R.E.M. sleep, maybe? Regardless, you’ll be bound to pick up a factoid or two and possibly get some latent creativity flowing for your I’m-no-longer-sick-kissing-the-sweet-sweet-library-floor days.

– Catch up on letters: or e-mails, FB message, RSS feeds, whatever. With limited ability to stay awake and aware, these short snippets of things to do will keep you from getting bored and make you feel like you are getting something – anything – accomplished.

– Make a giant pot of soup: It’s easy, and your illness ridden body will thank you once the finished product is ready to be consumed. My vegan not-chicken-but-better-than chicken noodle soup is killer easy. Vegetarian bouillon (found at most any grocery store), udon noodles, and cubed (1/2 inch by ½ inch) tofu. For an average size stock pot, four bouillon cubes should suffice, half a brick of tofu and about two average packages of udon noodles. Fill the pot about ¾ full with water and boil that noise all together; then consume. Tastes like the real deal, cruelty free.

Most importantly boys and girls, use these five-or-so days to get better. My theory is, my body got sick to prevent a nervous breakdown, so I am listening. I e-mailed my boss (give that EinC a high five for me when you see him), my professors, and my friends to tell them I am in no condition to do anything, at all. Feverish work tends to produce very little, and anything I tried to produce would be mired in 100 degree mind speak, a la nonsense.

Today’s lesson is: rest when your body demands it. While you can trick it for a very long time with double espressos and breakfast tacos, it will exact revenge leaving you in the fetal position, praying for a fever blackout.

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