A shot in the arm

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Getting the flu and blaming the Creature from the Black Lagoon

I hate to admit it, but I’ve learned my lesson about the flu the hard way — again.

After six days of simultaneous chills and sweats, brain-splitting headaches, bedridden fatigue, and an unsteady diet of DayQuil, NyQuil, and Coca-Cola, I have finally thrown back the eight heavy quilts that, like me, are in dire need of disinfecting. I’m a new man: few pounds lighter, blurry eyed, and bushy faced. I am told the nation has just come through an historic “bomb cyclone” of cold weather, the dumb rich guy with the funny haircut is ticked off about some must-read book Fire and Fury, and Oprah will be our next president.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

So all those Hollywood celebrities weren’t wearing black because I was sick? I must have been delirious because I swear I saw some woman flirting with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The wife tells me “no,” we weren’t eating roasted oysters at the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s annual Shuckin’ & Shagging fundraiser. That green and gooey loogie I hocked up was a lung.

Yes, I had a full-blown case of the flu, and I have lived to regret not getting the flu shot. Until this year, I have always rolled up my sleeve at the drugstore to get the flu shot because about 25 years ago, I got the flu and thought I was dying. I was younger then, and I really wasn’t dying but I felt like it.

After that experience, I swore I’d overcome my fear of needles and get the shot every year. And I did, until this year. For some, wisdom comes with age. For others, like me, comes the wagging finger of “you should know better.”

For the past couple of months, the nice lady at CVS has asked me repeatedly if I wanted the flu shot. Each time, I declined. She’s just trying to make sales quotas. My insurance plan didn’t cover it. I was in a hurry. I hardly ever get sick. I’ve not seen anyone with the flu, so I’m not exposed. After 25 years, the memory and pain of the flu had faded. Besides, I drink orange juice, eat spinach, and wash my hands several times a day: I don’t need the flu shot. Wrong!

According to conflicting Internet statistics, between 5 and 20 percent of Americans will get the flu and 200,000 will be hospitalized. It will cost the nation more than $10 billion in medical costs. Between 3,000 and 49,000 will die.

There’s more than one flu strain — so you can get the flu more than once in one season. Pick your poison: Influenza A, H1N1, H3N2, Influenza B, Yamagata, or Victoria. Getting the flu shot reduces your chance of getting the flu by 60 percent. The current flu shot is only about 10 percent effective. Both North Carolina and South Carolina are hotbeds of flu infections.

No, you can’t get the flu from the deranged sick person on social media, although some of my Facebook friends seem to think so.

There, I’ve written 600 words for a column that is more than a little late. I’m tired. My eyes feel hot. There’s still a little something in my chest rattling around like bad oyster looking for a way out. I’ll trust my editor to catch the typos and hope she doesn’t catch the flu by just reading this. I’m going back to bed. Go wash your hands. And whatever else you may or may not do, get the flu shot.

Say what, Oprah? You can change The Shape of Water? You’ve got my vote. •

Steve Wong is a writer living in the peach orchards in Gramling, S.C. He can be reached online at Just4Wong@Gmail.com.