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Davis, California

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Column: Swine flu surprises

I’m sitting with a large box of Kleenex in my right hand, Finding Nemo children’s vitamins (I still take those – twice a day) in my left and a large bottle of Purell within reach of either hand. My body feels unbalanced – left nostril is runny, right nostril is dry – and my brain feels frozen.

Twelve hours ago, I thought to myself as I popped in another chewable Nemo tablet and downed my last bottle of water, I was feeling all right at home. What exactly happened?

These disturbing health conditions all unraveled immediately after Winter Break. Was it possible that I had caught a cold in Vegas? Something told me this wasn’t a cold, though. It just didn’t feel like one. So what was it?

I mentally flipped through my random shenanigans over break – typical hanging out at the movies, eating out with family, running around the block and … getting a swine flu vaccination.

Crap. That must’ve been it. I have swine flu. Rather, the effects of it thanks to those darn injected strands of virus. I could feel an army of them jabbing at my left nostril, waiting to flood toward my collar.

It started about a month ago when – surprise number one – my mom had the grand idea for me to visit her doctor for a swine flu vaccination. We were supposed to be on our way to a casino. (It was too good to be true.)

As I sat in the cramped doctor’s office, debating how I was going to roll up my long sleeve t-shirt so the shot could be injected, the nurse demanded I tilt my head up. This was met with a blank stare.

Why would she tell me to do that? I mean, I’ve had shots injected into my arm, butt and pinky, but since when were shots injected into your … face?

I wore her patience as I pondered. She yanked my head while I shook like a poor Chihuahua being held for the first time. I couldn’t believe I was about to get a shot up my NOSE. She then went on to … spray the vaccine. Oh, got it. How could I forget? Surprise number two: nasal spray.

Fast-forward three weeks. My mind is cluttered with tissue and there’s Purell being dispensed on every possible surface – think Emma from “Glee” but minus the quirky, cute outfits. Replace them with a soaked, oversized t-shirt and sweats.

Trying to figure out how I could ease these swine flu effects, I finally unfolded the handy doctor’s sheet titled “How to Deal With Swine Flu Vaccination and Its Effects.”

The first things on the list were to rest, drink plenty of water and exert low physical activity. (Something I should have read ages ago, before that trip to Vegas and the nightly runs around the block). And sure enough, I had almost all the effects listed – the runny nose, the dry throat, the headache.

Based on the bluntly stated title of that doctor’s sheet, I figured there would be tips as to how to ease the symptoms AFTER you get them. There were no such suggestions, though.

I was screwed. There was nothing I could do – other than infect my roommate and classmates with bacteria.

I figured it was just a matter of time, empty Kleenex boxes and overfilled trash cans before this would be over. Now, I’ve got an endless supply of Kleenex and trash bags – time, on the other hand, not so much.

Sure enough, all it took was about two weeks before the symptoms magically disappeared (just as they had magically appeared). That was surprise number three.

TIFFANY LEW hopes she didn’t infect you with any germs a few weeks ago. She feels nasty just typing this out. Contact her at tjlew@ucdavis.edu to share your flu season stories.


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