Three Gifts of Influenza

Most experiences are not all good, or all bad – rather like people.  As the flu leaves my daily life, I want to take a moment and highlight three gifts resulting from the last three weeks of fever, hawking phlegm, exhaustion, pink eye, and deferred tasks.

1.  Understanding

I gained a deeper understanding of Mary’s experience of 2014 during the flu.  When she and I arrived home on December 26th, exhausted from a multiple day trip to Connecticut, and Mary developed a 102 degree fever – I learned something.  I was exhausted, overdrawn, desperately needing to rest and recuperate.  There stood my family, glazed eyed and hurting, needing me.  After a conscious choice to use available future energy and any reserves I had stored away, I was able to do what needed to be done and care for my loved one.

That weekend, it became much easier for me to imagine the anger, frustration, and resentment that an already exhausted, already overbooked driven women might experience when faced with an injured partner who needed, who needed a lot.  Nothing could give, everything she had committed to needed her time and attention.  There truly was not enough time and energy for her to meet all her commitments, probably even if she had duplicated herself.  Her daily experience suffered, she was short-tempered and task focused, and she drew deeply on her already depleted body and spirit.  Thank you, flu, for allowing me to understand my partner just a little bit better.

2. Understanding

Sometime last week, or maybe the week before, Mary and I were sitting on the couch.  Both of us were deeply exhausted from the flu.  Neither of us were able to do anything, even really talk.  I think we were both staring blankly at the trees and pasture outside, tissues scattered all around us.  Mary turned to me and said something like “If this is what you feel like when you get exhausted, I understand things a lot better”.  It felt really great to hear her say that.

My lady is a highly energetic, motivated woman who is probably thinking of 14 things simultaneously at any given time.  Having her slowed down enough so she could understand how talking about talking about something is exhausting was a gift.  The exhaustion with mTBI is not always a normal level of exhaustion.  It is sometimes so complete that thinking of how to explain why I can not talk about something right now is like pushing a boulder up a mountain – such a herculean task that it is kinda mean to even expect me to do it.  To have her briefly interface with such an experience due to excessive influenza symptoms was heartwarming for me.  Thank you, again, flu.

3. Oatmeal

Hmmm, you say.  Yes, oatmeal has existed for quite some time.  In fact, I have known for years that the best oatmeal in the world is Bob’s Red Mill’s organic quick cooking rolled oats.  I highly recommend you try some.

The best oatmeal in the world.  Stella makes a cameo appearance, playing with my pant strings.

The best oatmeal in the world. Stella makes a cameo appearance, playing with my pant strings.

What a few of you know, but probably most do not, is that every day, without exception, I eat cherrios for breakfast.  Every day.  Without fail.  Even if I am meeting someone for breakfast, I eat a small bowl of cherrios first.  Even if it is midnight after traveling all day, I make sure I stop by and pick up milk at the gas station on the way to the motel so I can have my cherrios in the morning.  I packed the actual cherrios themselves, a bowl, and a spoon in my luggage, of course.  Every day.

A high fever and some nausea changed all that… at least temporarily.  For the past ?? week??  two weeks?? I have eaten a bowl of nice warm oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast.  Yum.  Nothing like a soothing bowl of oatmeal when it is -6 degrees outside.  I expect I might switch back to cherrios in the summer.  Some might tell you I am a creature of habit, so perhaps not.

The temptress who lured me away from my one and only.

The temptress who lured me away from my one and only.

A legacy of perhaps 10 years or more has ended.  Thanks again, flu.  I hear it is healthy to switch things up once in a while.

And that, my friends, is what I learned from the flu this time around.  May stealthy ninja tactics allow you to avoid influenza for years to come.  Blessed be.

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