Sheltered Islander: Flu Survival 101 – A Shelter Island Prescription

The flu. The first few hours you start to feel the symptoms, you try to tell yourself you’re imagining things. You’re not really sick, just tired. You’ll take a nap and you’ll be fine. So you nap and wake to discover you have fever and chills and there is a furry animal running around in your head making you feel slow and your thoughts blunted.

So it’s off to the drug store to buy an assortment of potions to address the symptoms. You buy old standbys and some new meds on sale. Your hope is that if the meds don’t knock out the symptoms, they will at least knock you out ’til morning. The next critical decision is what tissues to buy. They have to be soft, lotion–infused and strong. Lastly, you hit the grocery store and buy orange juice and comfort foods. Recent studies show that comfort foods have no impact whatsoever on flu recovery, but who cares what the pundits say? Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches help you recuperate, and them what disagrees are not true Americans.

There are three levels of flu recovery. Level One is you recovering on your own, all alone in your house. You decide where to set up “sick camp,” either the couch or the bed, depending on where the better TV is located. There’s no one to bring you anything. Nobody to pet your head, or bring tea, or accuse you of being overdramatic or even ignore you. You spend your time clicking through the channels because you can’t focus on anything that requires intelligent thought, and you are fine watching SpongeBob SquarePants. You amuse yourself by making sick–looking origami animals from your used tissues.

Level Two is you live with a partner, but no kids. Your partner will make the pharmacy and grocery store run for you and make tomato soup and grilled cheese for you, but once they have you set up, they would prefer you suffer in silence. They forget that they are next in line to get sick and what they didn’t do for you, you don’t plan on doing for them. When it comes to the flu, what goes around keeps going ’til it comes full circle, and sometimes it even goes around one more time after that.

Level Three is for married with children. There is a male and female version. The male version of Level Three flu allows that the male gets to go to bed immediately and everything is brought to him since he only has enough strength to channel surf and watch sports. He is authorized to moan and groan as loudly as he needs to insure someone comes, and when they ask what he needs he answers, “Nothing, why? Did I wake you?”

Level Three for married women is very simple. You can’t have the flu—that’s for people who need some rest and a break. You need to take whatever meds will keep you moving and on your feet. You got dinner to make, laundry to do, and the dog threw up in the car again…

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