by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- Anyone else sick and tired of being sick and tired? Where did this virus come from anyway? If it were the 70s, I’d say Russia. If it were the 90s, I’d say the Middle East. Today, I’m pretty sure it came from Hollywood, mostly because it makes me feel like Captain Jack Sparrow looks. Although this virus doesn’t have a name, I’ve taken the liberty to refer to it as ST-17 (sick and tired for about 17 days).
The symptoms of ST-17 are very sneaky, so you don’t actually know you are getting sick until you are flat on your back in bed unable to take a normal breath. The first symptom, a teensy-weensy sore throat, leaves you wondering, “Did I just have a sore throat?” Then there are the abdominal pains. They last an hour or two. About the time you think, “What is that?” they’re gone. The lower backache lasts a little longer. You may think it’s totally unrelated to the virus you’re not getting, that perhaps you strained your muscles lifting a can of pork and beans off the pantry shelf. Tut tut. The backache lasts a couple days. The chest full of heavy air is also curious. Your chest may feel like a fatted calf is sitting on it, but you could swear there’s nothing yukky in there. It comes and it goes over the period of ten days without much help from you, and coughing does no good. You are really coughing for your own entertainment (and to scare other people away from your aisle in Safeway) because it does not loosen up your chest, which is not really tight and not really normal either.
There are variations to the nausea. If you eat a lot of spicy food you may think you just overdid it with the crushed red pepper flakes. About the time your stomach is feeling all better, you may enjoy a serving of that deliciously spicy sausage the ag teacher makes, and, uh oh, nausea again. Really, it’s not the fault of the sausage. It’s ST-17. The nausea passes in a day or two, and it is replaced by dizziness. You can feel perfectly fine after one of 49 naps you will take (because you are SO TIRED), then you stand up and are overtaken by dizziness. You can’t tolerate lying down one more nanosecond, but you can’t stand up either. The dizzy spells last about a week.
The drippy nose could take an entire column of its own. It begins far in advance of ST-17 and lasts long after you believe you are recovered. I cannot speak for anyone else, but there were approximately two days when my nose ran like a faucet day and night. I could not stop it and after two or three hundred tissues, your nose is crying, “NO MORE! PLEASE WIPE ME NO MORE.” It is at this point, and I am not advocating that you try this outside the privacy of your own home, you are better off to stuff a tissue in each nostril and change when necessary.
As a family we are mostly recovered from ST-17. A trustworthy friend told me that some people get this virus again. I am slightly terrified of that prospect. Anyone else?