Two weeks ago, I got sick. Miserably, wheezingly, achingly, incapacitatingly sick. At the time, I assumed that it was just a hardcore version of the recurring strep throat that visits me periodically when I allow myself to get run-down.
Then, on the day that I finally began to feel functional again and caught up with the newspapers, I realized that the rest of the country (world) was panicking about a swine flu outbreak. A friend asked me, “Do you think that’s what you had?” I replied: “Well, now I do!”
So was I a swine flu survivor or a paranoid like all of those Tamiflu-hoarders I read about in the newspapers? There’s no way to know for sure. By the time I knew anything about swine flu, I was fully recovered and well past the point that the virus could be detected in my system or passed along to others (believe me, I checked with a medical professional).
My symptoms certainly matched the swine flu systems described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But then again, my symptoms were also similar to any old, ordinary, non-headline-worthy flu — just more intense.
The cough, chest congestion, and body aches were worse than I had ever experienced in the past. But they were hardly fatal. I recovered fully in about a week.
My swine flu suspicions were kicked into high gear by the fact that I ride the same subway line as the students at the Queens school where the New York City epidemic originated. New York City subways get very cozy. It’s highly possible that I was in sneezing distance during the days when they were contagious.
Either way, I guess it’s a good thing that I was too sick to venture out during the week that I was sick. Now that I’m feeling better, I kind of like the idea that I might have had the swine flu. I had to suffer for a week, so I might as well get a dramatic story out of it, right? Then again, it’s a little early for other people to find that story amusing. People in New York will run screaming from you even if you explain that your cough and symptoms have been completely gone for more than a week.
Of course, it’s more than likely that I’m just suffering from a sort of swine-flu paranoia in retrospect. What is it about a global pandemic that brings out the paranoia in people?