Google Health: “Swine influenza is a flu virus usually found in pigs.”
My husband has it.
Google Health: “The virus occasionally mutates and becomes infectious in humans.”
He swears he picked it up from a murse (male nurse) in the county ER. Okay, so on a 1 to 10 laugh-meter, this is perhaps a 4. We are talking about a virus that killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide in 1918. I get it. Not a joking matter.
He says it started Thursday night, a troublesome tickle in the back of his throat. By Friday morning, he had all the classic symptoms: fever, cough, headache, muscle aches, stomach distress and extreme lethargy. Unfortunately, when you’re in the medical field and you catch the plague, you don’t get to take a sick day—you’re already in the hospital—so hi-ho hi-ho off to work he went. Luckily, Señor Swine Flu was kind enough to lay claim to his immune system over a weekend. By dark fall on Halloween, I had my own mini-Gollum writhing and moaning in the fetal position on the couch.
After all the press H1N1 has received, I figured A. My husband was blighted and needed immediately hospitalization. Or at the very least, powerful pain meds—oxycodone, morphine, something. And B. I was in serious danger of falling victim to this piggy epidemic.
Out came the Airborne (every three hours), the handy wipes, the disinfectant spray, the antibacterial soaps, lotions and potions! In case you aren’t aware, I can be a bit maniacal when it comes to cleaning. This sent me into Rosie-the-Robot overdrive. Spray, spray, wipe, wipe, wash, wash, rub, rub. Hell no! I was not getting sick.
Let me pause for a moment to tell you how taxing it is to disinfect every surface your loved one has touched, hacked on, and/or eaten off. And to do it without making the person feel like the pestilence you slightly view them as. Exhausting! Never mind the fact that I’ve come to the universal realization that MEN CANNOT HANDLE PAIN. Not at the same level that we, women, can. They instantaneously turn into bleating goats on the altar: “I’m dying, I’m dying!”
And you’d think those in the medical profession would rise above that stereotype, seeing life-threatening suffering on a daily basis. Oh, no. I argue they’re just as bad, if not worse, than the civilian population.
Saturday, just prior to succumbing to full agony, my husband decided we would attend a coworker’s Halloween BBQ. It’s phenomenal how it always seems to go down: One minute, the menfolk are popping Bud Light tabs and making snarky remarks about the Dallas Cowboys and the next, they’re on death’s doorstep—blazing hellfires incinerating their innards.
At the BBQ was a friend’s family whose patriarch was a recovering from the flu.
“Aren’t they ridiculous!” said his wife, juggling one of her three young boys. “I got sick with the same thing and still managed to get up and take care of everybody. He gets sick, pulls a blanket over his head and cries about it.”
Amen, sister! And it goes to my original point: Women innately have a higher tolerance for personal pain than men. Let me remind you, we PAY for people to bikini wax our parts, pluck our eyebrows, and pierce our ears. And those are considered “spa” services. Never mind the obvious: Pushing up to 10-pound, living, breathing, kicking, screaming human beings from our wombs! Some, like Michelle Duggar (Is anybody else completely mesmerized by that show?), choose to do it multiple times… with the cameras rolling! (Michelle, my hat’s off to you. I bet you could take a rocky punch to the chin and turn the other cheek.)
We left the BBQ shortly thereafter, my husband’s “I’m fine” costume deteriorating with each passing minute. Back home, he resumed his position on the couch with a marathon of bad 80s flicks. I handed out candy to the trick-or-treaters solo. Didn’t want to trick them with Swine Flu-infected treats. That was Halloween 2009. Playing hostess to H1N1.
Now, please don’t think I’m heartless. I’m in NO way trivializing the potency of this terrible strain and completely sympathize with flu victims. This weekend, I put on my nurse’s cap with gusto, disregarding all cynical remarks, snappiness and poo-poo-head attitudes. He was sick. He was allowed to be … well, a swine. I kept my Puerto Rican temper at bay, took the high road and gingerly soothed his delirium.
At the moment, he’s downstairs, right as rain, ESPN whistles blaring through the flat screen. Obviously, my efforts paid off, and I pray I’ve successfully avoided being H1N1 victim # million and one. A couple more days will be the telltale. So for the remainder of this week, I’ll spritz the counters, scrub my hands, and do Airborne shots like a hazed sorority girl. Should I come down with this, my husband may have the last laugh… which he would never do anyhow. Unlike me, he is a man of righteous character, and the pig flu is not funny. No, no, not at all.
Yours truly, Sarah 😉