Two Januaries ago, after a weekend spent visting friends, hanging out, and playing with their romper-room age kids, I started to feel a bit headachy before going to bed. I woke up and felt like crap. I tried to run some errands, but by supper time was lying on the bed chewing advil and wondering what the heck was wrong with me. Me head was killing me, my neck and shoulders were tight, and my throat hurt. 

I spent the next five days lying in bed praying for death, as I oscillated slowly between steam-bath sweats and hypothermic shakes. I had never, ever felt this sick in my life. By Friday, whatever was making my throat sore had marched down my trachea and set up camp in my lungs, whereupon it started to erect a thick, fibrous scaffolding around my entire breathing infrastructure. Coughing helped, so I did that. A lot. I coughed for three solid days, even though each hack meant another hammerblow to the noggin. I felt ridiculously bad. 

By the following Sunday, I managed to drag myself down to emergency. The doctor took a look at me, asked a few questions, and said, effectively, dude, you’ve got the flu. Go back to bed. 

It was another week before I could get out of bed to do anything remotely constructive. A month before the hacking cough stopped. Two more months before the scaffolding of mucous had finally come completely apart. It was almost summer before I felt 100%. 

So here’s the deal. 

1. The flu is serious.  

2. There is no such thing as 24 hr flu, or 48 hr flu, or anything like that. The flu is bad, and it lasts. 

3. The flu is not a stomach bug. It doesn’t make you barf. It is a head and lung bug. The main early sympton of the flu is a construction crew on your occipital lobes. 

4. You don’t want to get the flu. 

The flu shot is here. Go get it.