Monday, June 23, 2014
On Being Sick
LUCY BURDETTE: Over the past few weeks, most of the Reds have been struck with some kind of summer plague. Vicious head colds, fierce flus, brutal bronchitis, stomach ailments, even pneumonia.
As I was lying on the couch snuffling and sneezing and watching Orange is the New Black instead of working on my book, it occurred to me again how much I hate being sick. Think of it. Supposing you have one cold per year over 80 years. Supposing you feel lousy for five days running during each cold. 80×5 = 400 lost days! And that's just one stinking cold.
Which brings me to a related subject. How do you feel about people going out when they're sick? Or you going out for that matter. Are you the kind of person who searches your memory for the vector of the virus as soon as you come down with it? Who was coughing at the dinner party? Who was snuffling at the theater? Who was hacking on the airplane? On our vacation, a couple of our fellow tourists developed horrible flus--this being Japan, they were given masks to wear as a courtesy. As the trip progressed, I could hear the cough spreading through the other vacationers. Not much could be done about it in this case, as we were all on a boat. But I had my hand sanitizer working overtime...
Should you stay home when you're sick? What if it's a special occasion like a wedding or a vacation?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I'm always saying--I can't be sick, I cannot be sick! I duck and cover when someone coughs around me, or has runny eyes...my poor Jonathan had an eye thing which I decided (after my many years of medical school) must be contagious, so I didn't even hug him, and made sure our pillows didn't touch. Poor man, Turned out it was not contagious.
When people come to work sick it drives me crazy. I understand the problems, I do, but it is so rude to subject everyone to those germs. Last time I was on the train, there was a VERY sick person, and I'm not going to describe it, just imagine. And it was the quiet car. So anyway, moving along, the woman next to me in the train (a stranger!) and I spoke in hushed tones about our shared fear he had norovirus, and proceeded to essentially pour Purell on ourselves.
So I say--if you can--stay home! Nothing more frustrating and disturbing that sitting by a person who is snuffling.
(And whatever you do, do NOT check it out your symptoms on WebMD. It is always fatal.)
LUCY: Ha, ha, Hank. John turned up with spots all over his body last winter. After looking online, we were CONVINCED it was deadly Dengue Fever. (Turned out to be reaction to sulfa drug.)
HALLIE EPHRON: I was down with a mean flu, REALLY down for 2 weeks. Every joint ached. Fever spiked. No choice -- I was not doing anything but lying in bed and moaning. Then 2 more weeks of feeling just so-so before finally feeling normal. (And YES, as everyone asks me, I DID get a flu shot last fall.)
I sympathize with anyone who ends up with getting sick when they have to fly somewhere. I mean, sometimes you've just got to mainline cough suppressant and go. But when it's optional then I say stay away, and ask to wear a mask
while you're in the doctor's waiting area. And heaven help you if you happen to get sick on book tour. I mean what DO you do then?
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, Hallie, I did get really sick! And not just on any book tour, but on book tour in Germany. I woke up in London on the morning I was due to fly to Munich to start the tour with a RAGING sore throat--the kind that will not let you tell yourself it's allergy, or post-nasal drip... By the time I got to Munich it was clear I had the flu. But I was booked in four cities, and it wasn't just me, but my publicist, a media personality, and a famous German actress who was doing readings from my book in German. And all the events were ticket-only and sold out. So you just keep going. As soon as we checked into a hotel in a new city, my lovely publicist, Katrin, would take me to the nearest pharmacy for every cold and flu remedy we could buy. By the fourth city, I couldn't talk. And I did sign books for people, and felt terrible about spreading my germs, but had no choice. Washed hands until they almost fell off.
But under ordinary circumstances, I wish people would STAY HOME.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Ditto to the request that people stay home from work. I always point out to Ross that going in is counterproductive anyways - I'm convinced a good day's bedrest knocks a day or more off the cold's lifespan. If I have to go, say to a wedding or a book appearance, I try to medicate my more obnoxious symptoms and avoid touching anyone. I got a great idea from a very stylish mother-daughter pair who go to our church: when the dreadful swine flu was going around a few years back, they started showing up in adorable little gloves, the kind every woman wore in the fifties. They looked stylish (instead of paranoid) and they never got sick with anything that winter! Bring back indoor gloves!
What say you Red Readers? Douse yourself in Purell? Stay home all season? Take up Julia's new fashion statement?