Dear All,

I hope you have all managed to escape the dreaded flu season so far, many haven’t, and I almost thought that I’d fallen foul of it the other day; lethargy, tiredness, chills, fever, throat pain, aching limbs, gastrointestinal pain, I had the whole lot and the only ones panicking when I got home the other night from work were my wife and daughter. My daughter constantly kept telling me to go to the hospital because she thought I had flu and then she kept trying her best to get me to wear a mask, which didn’t work because I hate the damn things – you wouldn’t catch me dead wearing one . All my wife was concerned about was making sure I got into a hot tub of water so she quickly ran a bath and in I went. I can’t remember how long I stayed in for but it must have been over 30 minutes – I went in shivering like a dog and came out warmer than a warm thing, albeit quite wrinkled from the water, and very much ready to go to sleep, which is exactly what I was hoping to do until my wife started to lift up my shirt and stuff a thermometer under my arm. I can’t remember anything after that but according to my wife I was just over 38 degrees, which considering that I’m lucky if I ever get to 36 degrees, was high for me. The following morning my wife was at it again, lifting up my shirt and pushing a thermometer under my arm, this time I had a temperature of just under 37 degrees and I still felt terrible, aching all over, feeling disorientated, shivering, my teeth were also aching, but of course I had to go to work. Trying to work feeling as I did was not the best or most sensible thing to do, ideally I could have done to have stayed in bed for one whole day, but as I’ve never had time away from work due to ill health, and as we are a bit short staffed this week I managed to push myself forward. As I was walking away from my apartment, on my way to work, I left behind me in the distance my daughter shouting “You should go to hospital and you should wear a mask”, which if I was Japanese it would not have sounded so wrong or strange, but in my case it did. Whether that’s because I was feeling a bit depressed because of my condition or whether it’s because I’m British and we just try to get on with our day regardless of how we’re feeling, I’m not sure, maybe it was a bit of both. I now have a permanent tickly cough and one or two aches and pains remaining, but my temperature is back to normal and I’m feeling a lot better that I did at the beginning of the week. I decided I would try to write a poem about my suspected bout of flu and I asked my colleague Melissa to try to sketch something appropriate, which I believe she has managed to do. Until next week, make sure you wash your hands, drink plenty of water and gargle on a regular basis, otherwise flu will get you, and if it’s not flu that gets you it’ll be a cold.

I thought I was coming down with flu at the beginning of the week

I thought I was coming down with flu at the beginning of the week.
When I woke up on Monday morning, I had aches, pains, chills and a fever, I felt tired and extremely weak.
My wife suggested I take the day off work and stay in bed to recover,
which is probably what I would have done, if it hadn’t been for the absence of my brother.

Instead, I headed for the shower to warm myself through under the hot water.
I stayed in a lot longer than I normally do, which naturally upset my daughter.
When I finally came out of the shower I felt I’d regained some of my power, but it was short lived.
I began to shiver and as it was enough of a struggle to fasten the buttons on my shirt,
I didn’t bother fastening my cuffs, I just put on my sweater and then gathered them together.

I then tried to brush my teeth; squeezing paste onto the brush was hard enough, but having the brush
move uncontrollably around on the teeth in my mouth,
at what seemed like the speed of light, left my teeth looking electric toothbrush bright.
I took a last look at myself in the mirror, the dark rings under my eyes, my pale complexion and colorless lips
made me look like a ghoul from music video “Thriller”.

With hands still shaking I attempted to drink coffee and eat toast,
but when I managed to get them both in it just aggravated an already, quickly becoming, sore throat.
Once again, my wife told me to take the day off and reminded me of my age.
To which I retorted “I’m not that old, besides I don’t have flu, all I have is a common cold.
How do you know it’s not flu ? came, machine gun fired, back from my wife.
I just do, let’s just say it’s based on my living 52 years of life.

“Don’t expect any sympathy from me when you get home tonight and
you’re feeling much worse than you are now”, said my wife.
“You should go to hospital and you should wear a mask”, said my daughter.
“What do you think I ought to do?”, I said to my son.
“I don’t mind what any of you do, all I know is that listening to you all is
stopping me from getting my homework done”, said my son.

A poem by Stephen Austwick