Vicki Wentz: One flu away from the cuckoo’s nest

Jan. 09, 2013 @ 11:46 PM

Have you had “it” yet? Everyone I know has “it.” I, personally, have taken up residence under the piano to hide from “it.” What is “it”? Well, apparently, it’s called “The (insert name of town) Crud.”
First, it’s just a tickle in the throat. No big deal, you think, I’ll do a little Zicam. So, you do a little Zicam. Ha ha ha, scoffs the little tickle, you cannot defeat me! I am about to become the sore throat from hell!
Then, your eyes start itching, your nose starts running, you start coughing and hacking and wheezing, and you’ve been to the pharmacy so many times they’ve hung your picture behind the counter as a possible Zicam junky. But, for the first time in your smug medical history, the Zicam isn’t working, so you end up heaving it off the deck while in the first delirium of fever.
Then, you crave your bed as you would the arms of a lover, and you hope the sheets are clean, because you won’t leave it for days. You start to ache. Not like when you’ve just been to the gym, and not like when you fell off the ladder trying to replace the motion-sensor lights on the corner of the garage roof ... please, like I’ve ever done that!
When I say that you ache, I mean that everything you OWN hurts: You can’t cough because your chest aches. You can’t smile because your cheeks ache. You can’t pull the comforter up because the weight of it hurts your legs. You can’t shoot yourself, because your fingers ache too much to pull the trigger. You just have to lie there, unmoving, praying for death.
You’re unable to enjoy watching TV, because your head hurts too much to “guess the price of this lovely 3-piece Revelle cookware set!” And, you can’t enjoy all the treats folks might bring you, because your teeth hurt too much to chew. And, if you can’t have food or television, well, why go on?
Oh, sure, you can go to the doctor, but there’s really no point. He’ll just look at you like you’re another moron looking for a cure for the flu, and of course if he had that, he’d be sharing the stage with Oprah instead of just being an incredibly wealthy, Ferrari-driving doctor.
So, he wears a mask and asks you questions from the hallway; and if he must touch you, he uses gloves, or if possible, a robotic arm. Then he says go home, get plenty of rest and fluids, and if you aren’t better in two weeks, let him know. And, you’re thinking, Did he really just say two weeks? No way, he’s got to be kidding, what, does he think I’m a moron?
But, one day you reach your absolute lowest point and with what you believe is your very last breath, you tell your son where you hid the good silver. You’ll get better the next day.
One might think, after reading this, that one could simply nip the flu in the bud, then, by calling one’s son on the first day. One would be very, very wrong. The flu is crafty, my friend, as well as vicious, because I haven’t told you the worst part: When you are finally up and around and telling everyone how your particular illness would have killed a lesser human being, a few days later “it” will, I kid you not, strike again.
Not in the same way, of course. This time, you will be sleeping peacefully when, suddenly, you awaken at 2 a.m., just in time to sprint to the bathroom and “lose” everything you’ve eaten since last March.
I don’t mean to be gross here, but I’m trying to warn as many people as possible: “It” is here! Take cover! Hide your children, lock your doors, and wash your hands every 20 seconds!
Having said that, there is one thing that’s even worse than the flu: My daughter called to say her husband had come home sick two days before, hit the bed and was still there. Charlie, the 8-year-old, got it the next day, followed closely by 6-year-old Georgie. Three sick males – isn’t that the seventh ring of hell?
Gracie has so far avoided it, but Louise has been nursing all her men day and night, with no one to help, because her mother is under the piano. (The guilt isn’t nearly as horrible as the flu.)
She called me from the pharmacy last night, where she was getting a prescription for Chuck. It was her first trip out of the house in three days. I told her to enjoy it, maybe take in a movie, but she was in a hurry – the boys were sleeping – and had a question: “So, Mom, does this Zicam really work?”
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at, or visit her website,