This Spring Weather Makes Me Sick
Literally. How a germaphobe who got a flu shot still caught the flu.
Anyone else find it unsettling that here in Chicago we have had a string of 80+ degree-days in mid March?
Global warming? Maybe. But I’ve got another theory. Global flu-ing? Hear me out.
This unseasonably hot weather gives me the chills. Literally. And to go along with the chills, there’s fever, a raw and scratchy throat, a nasty (but as my doctor points out with pride, productive) cough, a heavy chest and muscle aches. Yup, I’ve been under the weather in the best March weather this state has ever seen.
Let’s talk about the flu for a second. I know, no one wants to hear the details about mucus. A mere mention of the word vomit and your dinner party is ruined. So we’ll keep the gory details of the illness out of it. What I want to know is why I got the flu in the first place.
Ask my family and they will tell you that I am a germaphobe. I wash my hands before and after everything, sneezes are always in the arm and never in the hand, I carry sanitizer around in my purse, car and bicycle, and I take extra zinc and vitamin C at the first sign of a cold. I am the poster child for the CDS’s do’s and don’ts for cold and flu season.
For years I have forced my kids to get their annual flu shots. As part of the Swine Flu-crazed public, we were the first in line the minute the vaccine was available to us, the bottom of the barrel, low-risk population. (Damn the elderly, pregnant and health care workers who out-risked us and got the first sacred batches before we could.)
Sure, it took a bit of coercing along with threats, bribes and a fair amount of Deerfield’s chocolate cake, but one way or another, my family got vaccinated. All that changed this year. My oldest child and my husband flat out refused. “Fine.” I though, “Let them suffer the consequences.”
I’m guessing you see where this is leading. Stubborn oldest child and equally stubborn husband sailed through the winter with nary a sniffle. Two younger children and this weary author… flu. Confirmed by a doctor with a certified flu test. That’s right. They now have a flu test. Did you know that? One swift nasal swipe and they have an actual definitive test that classifies your ailments as either influenza or just a raging cold.
So back I went to the CDC website to research the effectiveness of the flu shot. They have pages and pages of material on study techniques, different populations, study biases, and more. But it is hard to get a handle on the true efficacy rates of the flu shot. I questioned the pediatrician on this and her response was that had we not gotten the flu shot, our symptoms would most likely have been worse. I’m not quite sure how that could be measured, but at least she armed me with a bit of ammunition for when I got home to the “I told you so” members of the family.
So will this new information keep me from getting future flu shots? No.
Will I fight so hard to encourage my family members to get their flu shots next year? No.
Will this beautiful weather last long enough for me to enjoy it when I am feeling better? Once again, no.