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Anatomy of flu

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Experts say the best way to prevent coming down with the flu is to get a flu shot. I got news for the experts. They’re wrong — take it from someone who got said shot and then two months later got said flu.

So is there any hope for the uninfected to avoid a week in bed watching reruns of their favorite television show?

Have no fear, dear Reader. There’s a better way to stay well — one that’s proven to be almost 100 percent effective.

Why just “almost,” you might ask? The answer is at the end of this story. First, let’s take a moment to look at the anatomy of flu.

Exposure: what’s the best way to make sure you’ll be exposed to, and eventually come down, with the flu? Simply go to work. Work will make you sick. It’s where you’ll find those who already have the flu.

Yep, instead of staying home in bed where they belong, these wonderful folks decided to come in and share their illnesses. Contrary to what Old Mrs. Crabtree said way back in third grade, sharing what you brought in with everyone, in this case, is something you shouldn’t do.

News flash, sick leave is for sick people. If you’re hacking and coughing up a lung, then you need to stay home in bed. Don’t come into work and give your illness to others. Trust me, they don’t want it. You caught it; you keep it.

Special note to all employers out there: penalizing folks for using sick leave isn’t really a good idea. (When they’re actually sick, that is.) If you do, then they won’t use it when they are actually sick. Then they’ll come to work and get everyone sick. That’ll really affect your bottom line.

Denial: the overall aching feeling one gets when they wake up one morning realizing perhaps their flu shot isn’t going to work after all. Depending on the person’s resolve, this denial could last a day or perhaps even two. It’s during this time they decide to go to work, where they infect everyone they come in contact with.

Acceptance: the mild aching denial has turned into agonizing joint pain, a tremendous headache and chills. The truly lucky will have one additional symptom: a horrible cough that feels as if knives are inside the victim’s lungs trying to cut their way out.

At this point, even the most stubborn sick person will now seek out the nearest doctor. The physician or PA will give them numerous prescriptions, a note for work absence, and sound advice. Don’t wait so long to come in next time and make sure you get a flu shot next year.

Recovery: could take anywhere between four and six days. Be aware, recovery could last a little longer for those folks who use sick leave for things other than being sick.

Best preventive measure: simply not to be around people during flu season. That’s why I suggest working from home. Unless, of course, The Wife goes to work, catches the flu from a coworker who didn’t use her sick leave, and then brings it home. That’s how yours truly found himself at the doctor’s office two days later.

When the doctor told me I had the flu, I told her it was impossible; I had gotten a flu shot.

She explained there were two types this year: A strain and B strain. Seems I had the A strain.

Afterward, The Wife drove me home and put me to bed. Before going back out to fill my prescriptions, she asked, “Why are you so happy about being sick?”

 Pulling the blanket up, I answered just before falling asleep, “It’s because I finally got an A in something.”

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, is in his third decade as a firefighter and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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