The Flu: Get a Flu Shot and Avoid Getting Sick

The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to eight hours. You can catch the flu by touching a doorknob or table with the virus on it. recommends that you wash your hands often and keep them away from your eyes, nose and mouth. It is also recommended that you pour disinfecting Lysol over those little ankle-biting germ factories you call your children and swath yourself in plastic when approaching them at any distance closer than three feet.

OK, all but that last sentence came in an email from my well-meaning health insurance carrier. The last sentence, well, that was me -- what's left of me. This keyboard should probably be burned at the end of this post. I have contaminated it. I was last able to breathe through my left nostril several hours ago, and my throat is on fire. I would take my temperature, but I suspect the mercury would explode out the tip. Every muscle in every limb aches, including my earlobes.

Think I'm exaggerating? My youngest child just made me a cup of soup from a packet using tepid tap water, and I drank it. It tasted good. I could barely taste the 400,000 mg of sodium per mouthful. I don't care anyway, although I never imagined my last meal would involve alphabet noodles.

Yes, I am sick. Going viral the old-fashioned way. I am so congested, my head would float away if it wasn't attached to my body by the neck. Actually, I wish it would float away because then the pounding would stop. I'm flashing on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" right now: tapping, rapping at my frontal lobe door.

"Make it stop," I mumble to my husband from under six down blankets. Make that my deserting husband, who relocated to the couch in the family room last night. He said he loved me but not enough to catch this. I understood. Even I don't love me enough to catch this. Besides, whenever he rolled over or adjusted a cover on my comatose body, it set off a wave of nausea-causing motion in my head. I think someone replaced our mattress with a waterbed or a roller coaster.

Flu shots -- which I didn't get by the way when they were offered for free in my office -- are also free to those who receive Medicare. About 20,000 Americans die each year from the flu and another 100,000 require hospitalization. Most are age 65 and older. The Centers for Disease Control said to get a flu shot by December to ensure that "antibodies are in place before flu activity is typically at its highest." And when would that flu activity peak? You got it: January and February.

The worst part may be over for me. But save yourself, please.