Me and my flu at 4:30 AM.

Four fucking thirty aye em.

It’s not strong enough anymore. Somehow, having repeated it myself as the minutes have ticked by (two fucking fifteen aye emtwo fucking thirty aye em) the epithet has lost all power.

My throat is clogged. It’s as if I’ve swallowed a drain plug. Every gulp is conscious, difficult, near-desperate, the flailing of a decked fish. As fluid cascades down my esophagus, I must swallow regularly. If I don’t, I’m forced to cough.

Three goddamned aye em.

The coughing, my God, the coughing.

When I cough, the plug reveals itself to be an oversize rusty bolt, tearing at a shredded windpipe. I fear I might blow it out. I half expect that when next I clutch at my burning throat I’ll come away with a handful of neck-flesh.

Three Jesus Christ thirty aye em.

I’ve gargled salt water. Taken a double-dose of Tylenol Flu. Drank glass after glass of water. Consumed hot water with a shot of Jameson’s, lemon and honey. Filled up and plugged in the humidifier. Sucked on hard candy. (Fearing I might choke while drifting off. Could I wake Amber in time? Would she, half asleep, recognize the universal “Heimlich me” grasping-at-throat sign?) Swallowed some prescription pills I was given at the Virginia Tech clinic two years ago in packaging that said something about congestion.

Four bastard aye em.

I want to go back to Tuesday night, to the worst of the flu. Give me fever dreams followed by sweaty chills with furtive reachings for the wedding present mixing bowl slash throw-up bowl. That was living.

Four holy shit aye em.

TV ads have warned me for years that most flu medicine will make me sleepy. Where can I get some of that? I’ve rummaged through drawers, boxes and cabinets for long-expired cough syrup. Nothing.

Four fucking thirty aye em.

There’s just nothing strong enough.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

20 replies on “Me and my flu at 4:30 AM.”

  1. Oh, dear. Sounds ghastly. I second Jack’s suggestion, however. Alcohol, after all, is the main ingredient in some of those sleep-at-night meds you were digging for.

    Feel better soon.

  2. Sometimes those meds have the opposite effect. Sounds silly, but try vicks on your chest for the dry coughing — works like a charm. Then the bourbon. You’ll sleep like a baby.
    But jeez — feel better soon!! That’s a nasty flu!

  3. I got the flu so bad once I had to be taken to Martha Jefferson–the hospital–for rehydration. Next year and every year since: flu shot, baby.

  4. Mothers are always right about these things. Next time, if have not had a flu shot, try tamiflu- it really helped my child in March and I took it as a preventitve and escaped- am knocking on wood-
    Hope you feel better soon.

  5. Not only unnecessary, but generally considered to be the result of a lazy and/or feeble mind, attempting to express itself forcefully. You’re neither lazy nor feebleminded.

  6. Profanity is best reserved to express very strong emotions. Like, say, when up at 4:30 in the morning with the flu. Or when projectile vomiting, which I was doing a few hours ago. I think that’s the sort of occasion that calls for some salty language. Maybe that’s just me.

  7. 1. Jack beat me to it.

    2. As long as you have been with my sister you still have to wonder if she would be able to remove something from your throat upon having her sleep suddenly disturbed? I would be more concerned about her ripping it out all makeshift Tracheotomy-style in sleepy grumpy rage.

    3. Totally agree about the salt. Nothing gets people to shit their pants like when a monk, quiet professor, fill in the blank… tells ya ta get your fucking shit together!

    Hope you feel better soon man. Sounds like you’re on your way to one-upping that satanic stomach virus from the eighth layer of Hell (basically the bad sides of Richmond, Baltimore and Virginia Beach had an orgy and spawned a plain of existence inhabited by Furbies… thousands… and thouasands of Furbies) I got after the wedding.

  8. A couple of weeks ago, I felt flu coming on (chills, sweating, aches). I happened to have a box of Oscillococcinum — picked it up at Whole Foods one day while obsessing over bird-flu preparations.

    It’s a homeopathic remedy, and I’d always figured homeopathy was ridiculous — a big hoax. But I had figured What the hell? If bird flu overtakes us, I’d be willing to give it a whirl.

    Well, about 45 minutes after the first dose, the fever, the aches just disappeared. It was like a miracle. Over the next couple of hours, the symptoms began again, so I had another dose. About 45 minutes later, the symptoms disappeared again. I kept this up for 4 or 5 rounds, and every time the syptoms reappeared, they were less and less severe.

    Two days later, I was symptom-free and have been fine since. (This was the weekend when my brother was visiting, and all I could think was I CAN’T get sick because I was having the whole fam-damily over for lunch the next day.)

    From now on, I’ll be sure to have a supply of Oscillococcinum in the house. (Although, knowing my family, I won’t be able to convince anyone else to use it.)

  9. It occurs to me that something may not be obvious on the salty-language sentiment. The point of the blog entry is that strong language is useless. It does no good. Attempts to use stronger language to improve its effectiveness devolve into meaningless phrases. It’s intended as a parallel to the ineffectiveness of the medicines.

    Damn, that’s pretty clever for a semi-conscious guy with the flu.

  10. I find cold and flu remedies are like prozac, you need to build up steady levels of it in your system by taking it consistantly during the illness (but within the dosing standards on the lable of course).

    And when looking for cold and flu medicine I always check the fine print on the box to see what the amount/percentage of the antihistamine is. The higher the number the better it works. (Over the counter allergy remedies have even higher amounts than the cold medications). Anyway in addition to being able to breathe better it also had the nice side affect of making one sleepy. Two birds with one stone.

    Personal favorites were:

    1) the Alca-seltzer (sp?) plus cold and flu drop in tablets (avoiding the gel-caps the compound was too different). Worked really great before they changed the mixture because of some ingredient that could cause cancer.

    2) Actifed Plus (don’t know if that’s around anymore).

    And always avoid the boxes that focus on the words “Decongestant” (pseudophedrine) All that means is that you take it and your sinuses will be running non-stop.

    Good thing is at this point in your flu cycle.. next week is recovery week.. yay!!

  11. “The point of the blog entry is that strong language is useless.”

    Oh I got that.

    Keep in mind that your not a monk nor a quiet spoken professor.

    I was agreeing that if it has value it is in its being valued and,”reserved to express very strong emotions.”

    The word fuck is popular because it is physically pleasing to say. If executed properly it comes out on an exhale similar to a sigh. When exicuted deeply it is able to cause the breast plate and/or navel to convulse in a way that for some it stress relieveing. in this sense it might actually help you some. Not likely though.

    Really in this case it might fail in being useful for getting better, but becuase it is so out of character for you, it is highly effective comically. Much like if the Pope replied to the discovery of the missing link between sea creatures and land creatures by simply saying, “well ain’t that some shit.”

    Ah… so much to blog about, so little time. How long do you think it will be before they have you on the radio about the dangers of blogging addiction?

  12. “From now on, I’ll be sure to have a supply of Oscillococcinum in the house.”

    That stuff has saved me SO many times. My kids are always coming home with new germs and the Oscillo, plus a variety of herbs and supplements, are my best defense. Well, those and a whole lot of water and rest.

    It makes me laugh when people tell me that alternative remedies don’t really work – that those who think they do are caught up in a placebo effect. It seems to me that the objective is to feel better. What does it matter why you feel better as long as you do?

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