One Week Later

04Sep09

NOTICE: Did not die. This, in response to the several people (especially commenter Billy-boy) that apparently thought I spiraled backwards in my progress and was defeated by the all-fatal swine flu. I am honored and appreciate the concern, though I’m pretty sure if I were the one out of ten thousand to die of swine flu, everyone on campus would know by now- realistically speaking. However, I was tempted to write my own obituary and post that instead:

On Friday, August 28, 2009, Lisa Huynh died at the tender age of 19 from an overwhelmingly disastrous case of swine flu. Lisa was a sophomore attending UNCW, majoring in Communication Studies, and was the Managing Editor at The Seahawk newspaper. She was the only child of loving mother, Thuy Huynh, who has created a non-profit organization called D.B.S.A. (Death by Swine Association) in memory of her daughter. Friends of Lisa lined the hallways of UNCW buildings with touching posters of Lisa being chased by a pig, to remind others that the swine flu is an illness not to take lightly. Rest in peace, Lisa- the swine flu victim.

Slightly morbid, but still funny.

Thursday, August 27: First day back in class: All that remains of butterfly flu is dry cough- which is fine…unless cough leads into dry heaving, which is not the most reassuring thing to behold by bystanders in the middle of a crowded hallway. Did fine all day, had wisely packed bottle of water in book bag in case coughing fits do arise.

That is- until English class. Realized upon start of class that trusty water bottle was now empty. Figured I could last an hour and a half without water…wrong. About ten minutes in, got tickling sensation in the back of throat. Tried to do little hiccup coughs so as not to fully interrupt professor’s speech. Apparently, that would not suffice. Had to keep on doing little hiccup coughs, then finally moderately-sized coughs, but stubborn, demon-cough would not be satisfied. Had by this time managed to attract whole class’ attention, and professor was now giving me worried looks. Finally, I surrendered and raised my hand to ask to go get some water. However, by this time had tried so hard to keep in cough that I was actually crying, so what came out instead was, “Cearn ya git sem werter?” I sounded like a mouse.

Ran out of class holding hand over mouth and tears falling down my cheeks. Once out in the hall, let go full-blown, big-daddy-Mac of all coughing fits. Pretty sure every classroom could hear me. Was out there for a good ten minutes, drinking water out of the fountain, and pacing back and forth to recuperate.  Realized right when I went back that I had talked to the professor before class about how I was fully recovered and perfectly fine. Probably now thinks I am a liar as well as a human-sized germ who is infecting the classroom.

Sunday, August 30: Am now 100% back to normal. Cannot say the same, however, for roommates who all, except the one who lives right beside me, have managed to pick up the “flu-like illness”. Ironic.

Monday, August 31: Heard from one staff writer that apparently, I am hated by the Student Health Center, particularly the nurses. After first impulse to laugh, got worried. I didn’t mean to make Nurse Kathy sound bad. She was the sweetest woman I’ve met that was ever connected to any kind of health care. Should probably send in letter of recommendation to give Nurse Kathy bonus- possibly a turkey for Thanksgiving time, or maybe even some free meds if need be?

This is going to be the last of the Swine Flu series, which isn’t really a series at all (both unfortunate and fortunate). To the rare few who have not been bitten by the hog- it’s not that bad. To the 273 people with the reported (flu-like illness)-I feel you.


Day 2

27Aug09

2:00 AM: Woke up finding myself covered in a thick layer of sweat. Had brief, OMG, panic attack. Drank a bottle of water in one gulp, wiped off my forehead, then rolled over and decided to worry about it later.

10:00 AM: Realized that freak sweating incident was probably body’s way of fighting off the fever, because unlike yesterday, I don’t have weirdo chills anymore. Hooray!!! Progress is being made! Stepped off bed in fit of joy only to land on three full grocery bags. For a minute considered Santa Claus, then vaguely remembered mother visiting last night bearing gifts. Double hooray!

Poked around and found a tray of mini blueberry muffins, three cans of Campbell chicken noodle soup, cereal, kiwis (I don’t know what they have to do with anything, maybe they were on sale?), vapor rub, vapor patches, Ibuprofen and two cases of water. Awww….I love my mommy.

10:30: After a delicious bowl of Campbell’s, went to computer to check if any teachers responded to my Swine flu email. It’s really crappy, actually; of course fate would have it that the Asian that has a full schedule of 18 hours, a job at the Seahawk newspaper, and was going to start her first day at Encore Magazine for her internship, would get this stupid pig flu in the nick of time.

Got an email from Bill, my R.A. about notifying him if anyone of us had the swine flu and that a Swine Flu Awareness Program was going to take place tomorrow. I wrote back:

Dear Papa Bear (a nickname that I had given him),

I have the swine flu. Just thought you should know- I went to the Student Health Center yesterday and after they got my temperature of 102.7, they put a mask over me, so I think its pretty legit. I could be exhibit A or something.

The sickly,

Lisa Huynh

10:45: Hmm…professors for the most part are all very understanding and sentimental about situation. Might not be that bad off after all. Except for COM 200, who is asking me to do worksheets, notes, and reading every single day. Maybe I will start on homework as to not get far behind…just after I check my facebook.

11:00: What kind of name is “swine” anyway? Looked up “swine” on Wikipedia: “Swine influenza (also called swine flu, hog flu, and pig flu) is an infection by any one of several types of swine influenza virus.” None of those names sound very fetching. In fact, I rather think that it gives off the impression that the victim of said hog flu does, indeed receive hog-like qualities and then eventually will turn into a pig.

No one I know wants a snout for a nose. I don’t want to turn into the real life Penelope. I mean, I know that that the flu originated from the “swine,” but psychologically, I think the name is like a lethal weapon. Why not call it “Butterfly flu,” instead? That way, when people say, “Wow, you have the Butterfly flu?” the sick person will feel less self-conscious about being referred to as a stinky, mud-covered, curly-tailed boar, and more of a light, free-spirited, beautiful specimen. This might even make the person more inclined to feel better sooner. Might have discovered some amazing medical advancement…should keep theory on a hush-hush basis only.

11:15: Friend Dylan has Butterfly flu as well! Has just gotten over 99.6 fever (I still win) and is feeling a lot better too! We shall be sick buddies with our similar progress and symptoms!

Maybe I got swine flu from smoking hookah the other day? Dylan was there, along with 7 others, and we were all passing around a mouthpiece-less hookah around to everyone’s mouth saliva. Very fishy.

12:00-4:00: Recovery sleep.

4:15: Stepped out of dungeon room into civilization. Still have cough and possibly heightened nasal congestion (perhaps to make up for the fever?) Apparently I look ghastly because roommates seem uncertain as to how to react towards me. Too scared to touch anything, so ask the rooms if she could butter my biscuit (no sexual innuendos intended.)

5:00-7:00: Recovery sleep part two.

8:00: Made pasta and ate blueberry mini muffins. Its ironic, really- the one thing I was looking forward to by being sick is to lose weight, when in reality, I am eating three meals a day and am constantly hungry. I bet I’m actually gaining weight; after all, the most amount of exercise that I’ve done today is walk to the bathroom and back to my room.

But I have been going to the bathroom at least twelve times today because of the mass amount of water I’ve been drinking. Maybe, if added all together, I have walked a mile without even leaving the apartment!

Then again…doubtful.

9:00: Eating. Yet again.

Got text from Dylan saying he went to CVS to get the Tamiflu. Googled Tamiflu. Apparently it’s a five-day flu treatment that costs $110 without insurance. He says he already feels like a champ. I only feel semi-champ! We are no longer sick buddies- cheater.

10:00: Realized I have first article assignment due tomorrow at internship and should probably get a move on. How to start, how to start…

11:00: Have just wasted an hour on figuring out how to do roommate’s College Algebra homework. I hope I don’t get her sick, considering I have been in physical contact with most of her vital school supplies.

Okay, back to article. I have 124 words. How many do I need? At least 600.

12:00: 244 words.

1:00: Done! Not the best preview in eternity, but I think the Editor will be impressed that I can even type after the email I sent her. Pills and blissful sleep- so much sleep.


Day 1

25Aug09

Day 1:

10:00: Woke up. Why is it so bloody cold in my room? The roommates always turn on the air to Arctic-freezing level- I’ll just wear a coat until I have classes.

11:30: Walked out of the Crossing. Still cold. Went back to my room to fetch my yellow coat. That’s funny- no one else is wearing a coat. In fact, everyone is clothed in shorts, tanks and flip-flops…and here I am in a coat in 90-degree weather. Weird.

12:00: Women’s Studies Class. Wasn’t paying as close attention as I usually do in my favorite class of the semester. Actually, I was still having the chills so much that I pulled the zipper on my jacket as high as it would go. Also, I was feeling a bit light-headed and couldn’t concentrate on the slides or words that my teacher was saying. I was, however, most certainly giving the teacher the impression that I was bored, with my hand holding up my head at a 45-degree angle, when actually I was trying to fight against the pull of gravity that my head seemed to be going towards.

1:30: Was convinced by my friend to stop by the Student Health Center instead of class. Said friend left, however, at the door of the Health Center for fear of being plagued by the sickness of the 20 or more people sitting in the waiting room. The receptionist told me it was an expected hour or so wait. Joy.

The people here don’t seem that sick. I wonder if they think the same of me. Actually, judging by my rugged voice, my tired face, and the remaining yellow jacket, I probably am the sickest one here. Not really a reassuring thought. Neither is the CNN news report that just appeared on the room’s television that the Swine Flu epidemic is hitting high schools and universities all over America, but particularly the state of Kansas, of all places. Apparently CNN has not seen or heard of UNCW.

2:30: Finally got called by Nurse Kathy. She escorted me into a room, where she took my weight, blood pressure, and heart beat. Then came the temperature: 102.7.

“Oh my goodness,” exclaimed Nurse Kathy.

To which I thought, “Should have called my name sooner, huh?” She then rushed out and returned with two Tylenol and water, which I downed right there, and a mask, which I eyed distastefully.

“Do I have to wear that everywhere?” I said, pointing to the mask.

“Oh no! Just when you’re inside here,” chuckled Nurse Kathy, while tying on the mask over my nose and mouth. Lies. All lies.

Nurse Kathy then led me to another room with an actual doctor’s bed, while I hurried behind, trying not to get caught with a mask over my head. Then came Doctor Mary. I started to want Nurse Kathy back when Doctor Mary took some reading from my finger, and then told me to put the mask back on in a high pitched voice. She looked like she didn’t even want to touch me, not helping me put on the mask after I was obviously having trouble with it, and then scooting over some papers at me.

The first one was “What to do if you get flu-like symptoms,” to read at my own leisure. The second was a Doctor’s note that excused me from all classes until I get better. It also had listed:

1) Avoid all public contact until fever gone for 24 hours.

2) Aleve, 2 tablets in AM & PM for fever and aches.

3) Entex PSE Rx or 12 hour Mucinex and 12 hour decongest.

4) Antihistamine for cough and to stop mucus production.

5. Push fluids!

She even included that I would need my own thermometer to keep track of my fever, and a box of my own masks (since apparently they only last 20 minutes and you would need to reapply). The diagnosis read, “Influenza-like-Illness.” However, Doctor Mary said it was probably the H1N1 flu, otherwise known as the Swine Flu.

I took all this in pretty well, I thought, considering my own doctor was scared of my presence and I looked like a Japanese person right after the Atomic bomb hit Hiroshima. Doctor Mary then persisted to keep calling me “poor child” and that this was all so unfortunate to happen to me the first week of classes, all of which I needed no reminding.

According to Doctor Mary, there have been 30 cases of the flu just today, 70 cases within 3 days. It has been all over the freshmen dorm of Galloway (my old dorm last year), and the Honors dorm as well.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Doctor Mary.

She also told me that my temperature is the highest one that she has seen today. Take that Kansas.

3:00: Then came probably the worst part of the visit: the pharmacy. Not the fact that I had to get three different meds at the Health Center pharmacy, but that I had to do so with the mask still tied securely around my head, and the whole of the waiting room area that was exposed to see me as such. This, no doubt kicked my most embarrassing moment of having toilet paper hanging from my pants in the 7th grade, out the door. I just wouldn’t make any eye contact with anyone, and hope that no one would recognize me because after all, my face was 3/4 covered with a cotton mask.

Two girls came out to wait in line for the pharmacy as well, but once seeing the deathly creature that was me, backed a few feet away, then started to whisper and murmur with each other. I was having a similar response from the pharmacist, which if you are so frightened, why be a pharmacist? Once I packed all of my forms, receipts, and meds into my backpack, I ran out of the center, ripped that damn mask off, and rang up Bobby for a ride back to the Crossing.

3:30: Now comes the one factor that I absolutely hate the most about being sick: other people’s reactions. Some, like Bobby, are chill about the whole situation and don’t really give off the impression that he minds a victim of the Swine Flu riding in the passenger seat of his truck. He might say, “Now don’t start licking everything while I’m gone,” when he leaves me in the car, but it’s more laughable than hurtful.

Others–not so much. Once I got back to my room, and told my roommates that I did indeed have the flu, I was greeted with instinctive backing away, and comments like: “Why don’t you keep that cup you’re drinking for a few days,” or “I was way too close to you the other day!” and my all-time favorite: “Don’t touch me. ”

Okay, I understand the self-defensive/instinctive reasoning to think of yourself first, but none of these reactions make me feel any better, to say the very least. In fact, I think the best comparison to what I feel like at this moment, would have to the be the lepers that were pushed away from society in the movie “Ben-Hur.” Except, unlike them, I have not been relieved from my illness by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lucky lepers.

4:00: Have written on the dry erase board on my door, “I have the flu- beware.” I figured if I were to be secluded, I’d do it on my own terms. Took my pills, put a bottle of water next to my head and then fell asleep. I don’t plan to wake up until morning.




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