Nothing says February like a case of the flu

For the Monitor
Published: 2/27/2019 9:24:41 AM

While my fellow radio host, Peter White of the “Morning Show,” was sweating it out in the ER over the weekend, fighting off a bad case of indigestion, I myself was home in bed with the flu, writhing in a cold sweat, begging for these lashing dreams to stop.

Why in my dreams was I swimming through the mill waters in Lowell, Mass., with a group of seniors I see drinking coffee at my local Dunkin Donuts? I have no idea. Same with the woods behind my home being on fire. Good times. But hey, it’s February; what more could I expect out of this bully of a month?

The transition from wake to sleep last Thursday night was highly successful. After a half-hour reading session with Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, a novel I’d failed to conquer after many attempts in my 30s and early-40s, I closed my eyes and was out. Love when that happens.

Then, just after two in the morning, I woke in a halt. Freezing. I couldn’t wrap myself up tight enough. I shuffled over to the thermostat on the wall near the kitchen. Temperature read toasty. What gives? My bones were frigid. Shoulders too. And my legs were all cramped up. I haven’t done legs at the gym since the late ’80s, so I knew something was off.

I tried to go back to sleep but kept shivering, feeling dried out, like someone was flushing my intestines with antifreeze. I started stressing in the dark knowing I had commitments to honor within hours. A meeting in Dover at 10 a.m., a show to host in Manchester that night, friends to see, hugs to give. I knew none of that was happening as 3 turned to 5, then 5 to 6. My fingers shook while texting my boss at 7 a.m. that I needed a sick day.

Friday came and went, I barely remember it.

Knees to my gut for hours on end, buried beneath the blankets in bed, I gagged and heaved and shook and sweat, soiling with perspiration anything that came in contact with my skin, which hurt to the touch. Bed sheets were continuously replaced, comforters too. Pillow cases were burned. My T-shirts turned to tissue. Both windows in the bedroom were wide open, doing their best to free me of my sickness. I should be imprisoned for the atrocities I committed in the bathroom.

I’m a terrible baby when I’m sick. This is true of most men.

The TV in my bedroom is bare-boned, basic channels only. What I was forced to watch was mind-numbing. Hours of college basketball games played by teams I never heard of. The Godfather series, twice. Oceans 11 and 12 and 13. Every Will Ferrell movie known to man. I tried to read, failed. I tried to eat, nothing happening. I just shook.

By nightfall Saturday, I hadn’t left the house in two and a half days, or the second floor of my own home. I was told I had no business mingling with the healthy people living their lives below me, getting on, laughing, eating, swallowing foods that tasted like sugar not bile.

In the bathroom on Sunday morning, I winced in horror at the man I saw before me standing in the mirror. As if every muscle in my body had snapped, I was skinny and fat all at once, ravaged with weakness.

I ran a hot bath, something I hadn’t done in nearly a decade. Jamming my body in the steaming waters, I soaked motionless until my toes folded over. Every knot loosed, every pain subsided. Enough of the pills and syrups. This is what I needed.

Mondays mean business. Ain’t no getting around it. Screw up a Monday, and the rest are just a mess. So, when I woke after a reasonable nights sleep, I blocked out the lingering lethargy that filled my body, showered, shaved my face, combed by hair, and ventured downstairs to greet my family, practically strangers to me by now.

“Hey, Dada,” my son said sleepy-eyed slurping at a bowl of cereal. “Haven’t seen you forever.”

“Don’t forget your backpack,” is all I said. “Hurry up. I’ll be in the car.”

I turned on the radio, and I heard the voice of Peter White recalling his digestive struggles over the weekend, sounding battle scarred but strong, making light of his time in the ER. Like a real pro.

And that’s when I said goodbye to my terrible weekend. It was Monday, time to show up or shut up. I’m done with you, Mr. Flu.

Onward!

(Rob Azevedo can be reached at onemanmanch@gmail.com.)




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