When I was in third grade, I got the stomach bug. This was a typical event for me-- I got at least one throw up bug per year. This one, though, lasted. A long time. I remember Mom setting the stove timer for 10 minutes, and I had to have a sip of flat Coke when it went off. I did that once-- and ran for the bathroom. I cried when it went off again. At that point, we got in the car and went to the doctor. I remember crawling in and just lying down under the coats while Mom checked in. Some lady who had just been called looked at me and sat back down. "Take her. Now." Mom must have teared up then-- I do now thinking about how I'd feel if I was dragging a sick Girly who couldn't even hold a sip of Coke to the doctor and a perfect stranger gave up her spot for us. It should come as no surprise that I did not return home that day, but went straight to inpatient. I spent a week in isolation because they had no idea why I got so sick. They did every test in the book and only could get as far as gastroenteritis: the stomach bug. My parents could only come in one at a time, and had to wear a gown. I think they had a time limit on staying, but that may have been self imposed because of my 3 younger siblings at home. When I was allowed to go home, it was a long time before I went back to school for a full day--I think I left at lunch for a couple of weeks. I was one sick puppy.
Wednesday night, I got the stomach bug. It's been about 4 years since the last time I spent a night puking-- my immunities have improved as I've aged. I have a little routine-- drink some water, pace around, wait for the hot flash... I don't like it, but it works. This time, in the dead of night, my sweat smelled like third grade again. It's amazing how smells can vault you back in time; I bent over to steady myself and was suddenly heading into that doctor's office again.
As the morning went on and I listened to the Today Show talk about the H1N1 virus sweeping the world, my feverish brain wondered if that is what I had 30 years ago. Either way, I have some real life perspective on what it's like to get a stomach flu that debilitates you. It sucks, without question, and if you are not lucky enough to have access to clean water, soap, medical care, and stomach friendly food, I can only imagine how much worse it would be. My heart goes out to such people.
I'm ok now. Getting better daily. A few people at SATs today asked me if I couldn't have just taken one for the team and gotten us closed down for a week. I tried to do my part, but it was just the plain old stomach bug, like people get every year. Those of us with access to medical care usually come through with a few days home sick from work or school. The sad truth is many people die every year from flu related complications, whether it's from lack of medical care or living in poverty or just being too young or too old for your body to handle the trauma.
I guess whether it's H1N1 or the Flu of 1918 or just the common variety, people are going to get sick. Most of us will be ok, and it is a tragedy when a few are not. The germs will keep trying to outsmart us as we're trying to outsmart them. Another version of the circle of life. I'm glad I outsmarted whatever it was that got me in 1978... and I hope I never have to do it again.