Flu on upswing but reporter needs to work
I shouldn’t be writing this.
Not where I am sitting, anyway. There are more than 20 people in my direct line of sight in the Journal Star newsroom, all of whom are inhaling from the same pool of oxygen into which I am exhaling.
Breathing in. Breathing out.
Of course a double-digit percentage of my 20 co-workers are coughing, sneezing and holding a tissue to their own nostrils, as I am; comrades-in-flu-enza, toiling spacedly inside a DayQuil — or any equally ineffective over-the-counter drug of choice — mist.
Have the four hours passed yet?
Can I take more?
Don’t leave me, mommy. Mommy?
Lots of people in central Illinois have the flu right now. Big deal. It’s flu season. Think the pioneers whined about a little head pain or throat tickle? Suck it up people.
The precise moment the current flu epidemic became a breaking news story to me …
What? It’s not an epidemic? It’s not even much or any worse than recent years? Details, details. I’ll proceed.
… was the precise moment I started coughing Tuesday afternoon.
My symptoms? Well, thanks for asking. I’m surprised really, because many people aren’t that interested in hearing details about how other people are feeling when they aren’t feeling well. People like me, for instance. And most nurses.
(That’s a joke, by the way. I love nurses. My mom was a nurse.)
Here they are. Feel free to take notes and compare.
Headache. On Wednesday my headache achieved its own personality, one deserving of it’s own bad guy nickname like Spike, or Pretty Boy or Ty Cobb. My head felt like it had been hollowed out and all of its biological content and goo had been replaced with ball bearings. Or gravel.
Body aches. There were extended hours when I felt like the L.A. paparazzi’s SUV that Britney beat silly with her umbrella shortly after she shaved her head. You saw the pics.
Sore throat. Like I was doing shots of shattered windshield glass.
Cough. Percussive as a Keith Moon drum solo, only dryer and less productive.
Fever. Striking workers walking a winter picket line could have warmed their hands on my body heat.
There are more, but most of them involve, to varying degrees, mucous and, well, drainage. We’ll keep those details to ourselves.
The flu causes a dilemma in the workplace because it almost always takes more than a day to resume feeling even marginally human. No one wants to sicken others. But people with limited numbers of sick days available to them are forced to weigh what’s beneficial to their healing against what’s beneficial to their 401k account in an era rampant with corporate downsizing, buyouts and layoffs.
Hate the flu. Love the job.
After calling in sick two consecutive days, I laid in bed Friday morning contemplating the wisdom of blowing through 60 percent of my annual allotment of personal days in one week in February — and not even the final week in February (and is it just me or does the date of next week’s Leap Day seem less like Feb. 29, and more like Feb. 129?).
So, I got up, poured the dog a cup of coffee, shaved the cat, brushed somebody’s teeth, got dressed, showered, got dressed again and came to work. I mean I must have come to work, because that’s where I am. The flu was the only thing on my mind. So I wrote about it. Now I’m going home and I’m taking Ty Cobb with me.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at (309) 686-3244 or at email@example.com. But he doesn’t want to hear how sick you are.