Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Influenza 101

Wow, that was a rough week. I started feeling the chills and fever last Thursday. Last night I finally got some sleep and woke up this morning feeling better. Not 100%, but better and able to function. I believe today's activities will have me going to the VA and get checked out anyway. My chest is still full of junk. I'm sure I'll get the lecture about the flu shots they offer, but I've never taken one and for some reason, don't want to start now. Besides, the flu shots aren't for every type and strain of flu that can come around.

I didn’t go to the doctor before now because even though I was on my death bed, the VA clinic is only open on weekdays from 8 to 4:30. So, hard to get sick over a long Presidents Day weekend. I’ll go today. In a little while. It will be an all day affair waiting to be seen without an appointment, but that’s no problem. I was sitting around doing absolutely nothing since last Thursday. I’m used to sitting in a mindless void for hours on end.

While on my recent visit and stay at the Louis Stokes VA Hospital just outside of Cleveland in Brecksville, Ohio, I had plenty of hours to kill, sitting around, and I didn’t have the chills and fever and harsh hacking unproductive cough like I endured this past week. In Cleveland, I had some other folks to talk with. I also found, or was reminded of, something I like to do, read.

Since I have spent many hours on line reading blogs and news articles, I rarely see a newspaper anymore. I never did like reading the everyday mystery novel. So, I didn’t read much in the way of books, especially since I was reading the news on line.

My selected reading material was weird in a way, weird when compared to what other folks were reading at any particular coffee shop. I’d look around and see Evanovich and Custler, Grisham and Steele, or any number of books by political heroes and villains ranging from the lowest dregs of the Bush administration to the exalted glory of Barack Obama.

Nope, while these authors graced the backpacks of the studious coffee house trade, you’d see Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” in my hands, or nothing at all. A children’s book you say? Well I’ll lay to it that it be a good yarn and Long John Silver a character never to be forgotten, Matey. And when I finished that one, another of similar theme would take it’s place after a long break from carrying a book at all.

So, I can get by with a little wait at the VA clinic. I won’t read on the bus or the light rail, the trips aren’t long enough to allow for pulling out a book and starting a page. Besides, I like to watch the cityscape go by from the windows of the bus. As the daily commuters wonder about the bus passengers, “I wonder where they’re going and why they don’t drive?” I can do the same, “Why are they driving right down the same street as the bus?”

My experience at Cleveland was a mixed bag to be sure. I went to voluntarily immerse myself in a program designed to teach me some techniques and give me some tools for self help in many areas of my life. I felt I needed this help and I had full support from my family and friends. And even though it was a long time away from home, it seems well worth the effort. I came home motivated to make some major changes in myself. The main thrust of the whole ordeal for me was the loss of some weight and blood glucose numbers well into the normal range. The dosage of the medicine I had been taking for diabetes has been cut to less than 1/3 of what I was taking. To take less medication anytime is a great triumph in my mind.

Showing myself resolve to work that hard to achieve some goals really inspired me. My family saw this and was pleased as well. Not so much that I was sick with diabetes before, because I am still a diabetic, but that I am in control for now and have been dealing with real true lifestyle changes.

The set back of being sick this past week put my walking regimen on hold, but that will get back as soon as I gain some strength. I haven’t quite been eating well balanced meals either, but rather not eating at all. That won’t hurt the waistline.

I do want to tell you about this VA hospital in Ohio. It was an amazing experience on the level I described above, but also on another completely different level was the actually day-to-day living on the ward and the personalities of both the patients and the staff. It is a unique character study and I plan on writing about this in the next post. So, stand by please.

My oatmeal has been steaming in the covered pan long enough to achieve the firmness and texture I like, so I’ll go eat now, then it’s off to the doctor to see if I’ll live another day.

Peace to all.


Fran said...

Ugh! Sorry you are immersed in the flu bug & the circus of the non appointment scene @ the VA medical center. I hope they provide some relief.
Hope you are on the mend soon.

Spadoman said...

Fran, so nice of you to extend the "get well soon". I did make it through the seven hours at the VA. Along with the waiting for the Xray, Blood Test and Pharmacy, I find out I have Pneumonia.

Since I walked in on my own and feel very much better than the previous 6 days, the doctor allowed me to be an out-patient and sent me home with the antibiotics. But if I fall back to any symptom,. large or small, I need to go back and get admitted.

So, Spadoman is on bed rest for a week. Thanks for stopping by.

Peace to all.

dawn said...

Joe my friend, you need to take care of yourself or I might have to come over there and kick your butt or at least tell Barb too. I have a feeling she agrees with me. I read Janet Evanovich she is one of my all time favorite writers. Her series one for the money is the best ever. Although I have thought that maybe it only appeals to northeast people. You should get the book and read I think there are 14 in the series ,all I know is it's the first time I read a book on the subway and literally laughed out loud(looking crazy). Please take care of yourself

nik said...

Hey Joe! Man i hear you about the flu. I got nailed with it over the 3 day weekend too. I was super bummed as I was planning on going up to Bainbridge Island and doing vigil with Gilberto and Kenaida at their weekly gathering. Gilberto left for Mexico yesterday so I won't get to see him again for quite some time. Damn!
But glad to hear that Cleveland was rejuventating for you and that you're looking on the bright side of things (as you do!). I'm glad you've found some resolve and have the support of your family.
I love you Joe!
Hope you feel 100% super soon.
love, Nik

Fran said...

Pneumonia! Damn~ that is serious.
I hope the kick ass antibiotics kick the Pneumonia's ass.

You know not to mess with this one.

Drink your fluids, chicken soup, herbs etc.

Take care

fjb said...

Watch out for that pneumonia, it sucks. Hey, can we keep Obama up here?;)

Take care, Joe.

eaprez said...

So sorry you have the flu. Amazingly I have never had the flu - had a bad cold this year though - first one in years. I hope you are hope your IP experience at the VA was mostly +

eaprez said...

reading your update re the dx of pneumonia....you know, they have a vaccine for that too!!! ;-)

Spadoman said...

Thanks for the well wishes. I feel better already after 3 days of antibiotics and a lot of rest.

Beth... I DID get a pneumonis shot. They told me is lasts 10 years! That one I got while I was in Cleveland at the VA there. The doctor at my local VA tells me that I have a strain that wasn't covered. I thought pneumonia was pneumonia and the Flu had different strains!

Anyway, thank you all very much!

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