There’s nothing quite like being sick on your birthday, but this was unavoidable.
It seems my newsroom has seen all kinds of illnesses invade. Colds, upper-respiratory infections, flu and stomach flu seem to be the main issues floating around our little petri dish.
Outside of getting my yearly cold, I had avoided the rest. My annual flu shot was coursing through my veins, so I wasn’t too frightened of that.
However, stomach flu — that miserable virus — has gripped our little corner of the Midwest. Facebook has been replete with such stories of woe. My father-in-law had it. It was making its way through my church. And, as I mentioned before, it was in the office.
Sooner or later, it was going to get me. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, my vaccine wasn’t going to stop it.
But I was hoping against hope to somehow sidestep it because I’m generally a pretty healthy guy. I work out four times per week. I eat well. And I try to get plenty of sleep.
Plus, I have what I consider to be a fairly impressive vomit-free streak of more than 20 years.
Well, I had, anyway. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Sunday night was the eve of my 35th birthday. It also was Super Bowl Sunday.
My boss and I were working on the news side of the paper, and we decided to get food to celebrate the big night.
If we had to work, we may as well have fun.
I brought in store-bought M&M cookies. He had a couple of pizzas delivered.
The night progressed fairly normally, but right around deadline, as I was sending my last pages to the press, something wasn’t quite right. But I couldn’t decide what it was.
Then, finally, it occurred to me. I was nauseated.
I say finally because I don’t usually feel this way. Stomachaches? Yeah, I have those all the time. I joke when I say I have the stomach of a 90-year-old man, but it isn’t far from the truth.
But this was no stomachache.
As soon as I could, I hightailed it out of the office. With a commute ahead, I feared stopping on the side of a dark highway and letting loose.
After trying to get my mind on other things, like music on the radio and praying I would make it, I was home.
My wife greeted me, but I told her something wasn’t quite right. And it was getting worse.
I made my way to the recliner, resigning myself to what was next.
When I say the stomach flu is no joke, I mean it. There’s the fever, chills, achiness, and let’s not forget the gloriously violent discharge in a pair of varyingly disgusting ways.
And I hate puking. The other stuff I can handle, but puking? Nope.
I headed to the bathroom as the lesser of two evils, a stomachache, was settling in, but it was only a matter of time before my iron man-like streak would end.
After trying to puke in a trash can, I laid down by the toilet. Even standing was too much.
Eventually, I assumed the position over the throne, but it wouldn’t come.
The smell from my earlier violation of the facilities was grossing me out, however, and I’d like to think that aided my attempt.
Soon enough, I again saw the pizza and cookies, this time in reverse as they came flying out in not one but two rounds. The second would come a few hours later.
(Side note — and shameless attempt at humor — I guess you could say I tossed my cookies. It’s funny ’cause it’s true.)
But that would be it for the vomiting, thankfully. I just had persistent … well, let’s just say persistent stomachaches.
I was out of the office for three days last week as I recovered and then looked to strengthen my system with electrolytes and, as my appetite returned, foods that wouldn’t challenge my weakened stomach.
I’m much better now, and, so far, I’m happy to report my wife hasn’t gotten sick, though we’re not in the clear quite yet. According to the Mayo Clinic, I’m contagious from three days to two weeks after recovering, so we’ll see.
To keep her well, I channeled my inner Sheldon of “Big Bang Theory” fame and sprayed Lysol on every surface I even thought to contact. Plus, there’s my overly obsessive and liberal use of hand sanitizer. And she’s made sure to steer clear of me.
But Saturday, we were three days out, and we decided to risk it as we enjoyed a day together in celebration of my birthday. We went out for groceries. She made my traditional birthday meal of cream dried beef on toast. We enjoyed wine and ice cream and cake as we watched TV and shopped on Amazon.
Let’s hope that doesn’t come back to bite us.
Otherwise, it could be an interesting Valentine’s Day.