Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

As I’m typing this, I’m surrounded by piles of used tissues, empty blister packs, tea bag wrappers and fuzzy blankets as my heater whirs away in the corner.

Yep — I caught the stuff. Googling my symptoms leads me to believe I have the flu, which is odd for me. I almost never catch the bugs and when I do, I usually don’t keep them long. But this one — this is special. This one seems to have originated in the fires of Mt. Doom, concocted by an evil overlord bent on world domination for at least a week or so.

My nose is so raw from the tissues that I just had to put Solarcaine on it. I’m awake and aware, at 5:30 a.m. because I’m too sore to stay in bed any longer. I’m not sure how I’m managing to cough out twice as much air as I breathe in. Sneezes hit like a taser; unexpected and messy — electrifying not only my sinuses, but the muscles in my back, shoulders. Every time I sneeze, I feel like I’m on the verge of having a full-body muscle cramp.

Right now, I have a sinus headache that reaches down into the roots of my top teeth. Yesterday, while buried under a foot of blankets, I found it impossible to get warm as waves of goosebumps and shivers criss-crossed my body for almost an hour.

And sleep? Forget about it. I’ve been averaging two to four hours a night since Friday.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you all this to complain or get sympathy (although I wouldn’t turn down soup). I’m letting you know what you’re in for if you catch this.

When I told my sister, who is just three years younger than me, that I was coming down with the flu, she said something that’s been echoing in my liquid-laden head all week.

“You be careful, that can be really tough on guys your age...” she said.

Brushing off the initial sting of her comment, I have to admit she’s right, I’m not a kid anymore. People my age have died from this stuff. According to the Los Angeles Times, that number is at 42 this year in California, compared to just nine the year before. They were all under 65, the story states.

For the 2018 flu season, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends use of the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or IIV) or the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). According to CDC, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 and 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.

If you have access to a flu shot this year, I highly recommend getting one, based solely on the alternative. If you think you’re coming down with it, maybe you should just stay home — which is exactly what I’m doing today.