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I am battling the flu and it ain’t pretty

February 16, 2018

7This is a written excuse to the administration of my fine school as to why I cannot -for the third day – make it to the halls of academia. 

 I decided to slog my way over to the keyboard and poke out a few words before I shuffle my sorry blanket-draped carcass back to bed.

I am shivering and wearing so many blankets that when I stand and move about I look like a mobile teepee.  My head is peeking out above three feet of blankets.

For those of you who have emerged unscathed through this sickness season, I will now explain what it is like to get the flu:

Imagine you are located at a Baltimore train yard with your head strapped securely to one of the iron-metal rails, with a 125-ton 4-axle CSX EMD locomotive methodically running back and forth over your skull.  At the same time a pack of Oompa Loompas are beating you mercilessly across your back with frozen beach towels.   At the same time to Tolkienesque Orcs alternate between scalding your sinuses with a blowtorch and a fire extinguisher.

When you sit up to take a break you are force-fed bread that tastes like elementary-grade construction paper and drink liquid that taste like post-Thanksgiving dishwater.

Someone whitewashes your tongue with Sherwin-Williams primer paint. Then you are shoved back to the train rail.  Repeat this all day.

This is my third day battling this fever.  I really, really thought I could make it back to school on Friday.  I am not going to try to sound heroic; the first night was pure torture.  My sinuses were exploding like a successful Guy Fawkes Gunpowder plot.  The drainage – and I will be delicate here – rode down into my windpipe in steady globs, just enough so I couldn’t sleep.  I have been coughing so much that my back muscles feel like fried bacon.

My poor daughter and wife roam around the house wanting to assist me, but I am so afraid that they will catch this Mother of All Flus that – like the lepers of the first century – I croak out to them to keep their distance.  Jill has been disinfecting everything, spraying stuff and throwing everything else into the dishwasher.  Even the parakeets I believe.  They weren’t happy.

By day two I was dizzier than a French Quarter inebriate at Mardi Gras.  Walking forward was a virtual impossibility.  And extremely tiring.  Standing for more than a minute was exhausting.  I would find anywhere to sit if I had to move about.  I think one time the cat made a quick Ottoman.  He wasn’t happy.

The idea of food is disgusting.

Stomach-wise, the first day felt like I had the North Pole in my abdomen, and I literally shook with cold.  Yesterday and today it is like I swallowed a live porcupine.  A live one.

But I’ll make it, mind you. I’m a fighter.  The Zockolls are not quitters.   Nor will we allow something like a pandemic flu steal the gargantuan Russian appetite for which we are so famous.  I long to get back to barbecue and baked potatoes and heaps of vegetables.  Right now, though, even writing those words is making me queasy.

This time is humbling; it asserts once again the frailty of my body despite my best efforts to stay healthy and active.  Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes are very clear about the weakness of mankind, and James even reminds you that our life is like a vapor.    As I lay under three feet of blankets and stare at the ceiling with my mind dancing about in painful yelps, I am made aware of this.  I am not exaggerating.  The worst thing, to me, is that my mind is misfiring constantly during this ordeal.   I go between prayers to depression to exhaustion to gratefulness that this is not worse.  All these thoughts keep swirling.  My mind cannot rest;  it is like its backside is on fire and it is running around the barnyard like a cartoon chicken, looking for the well-water of relief.  Perhaps that will come today.

I hope the fever broke.  Last night my pillow was so wet – I am not making this up – that I had to throw it off of the bed.  Water was literally dripping off of my back onto the sheets.

May I stop right now and say that I am grateful for our fine school, Grace Christian Academy.  The administration and faculty are great, and I was able to get an immediate substitute teacher to fill in for me and take charge of the very responsible students.  I say this because I all love you so dearly.  I also say this so you won’t fire me for missing three straight days of school

I would like to gather my thoughts in a more coherent way, but I am mainly interested in a scalding hot bath.  So if you’ll excuse me, I have to slog my way down the hallway.

Jill will be following six feet behind, spraying my footsteps with a hospital disinfectant.

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