What the Flu Taught Me About Life

Being sick
13 Nov 2014

This week I have been sick. Not the kind of “sick” snarled by a teenager wearing trousers that show more of their undies than a Victoria’s Secret model, but the curled up in a ball and quietly rocking in a ball of misery sick.

I mean, who gets the flu in November? It is cool, almost de rigour, to get at least a sniffle in September, but an all-out furnace-like raging flu in one of the nicest months of the year in Brisbane is downright uncalled for.

I knew it was one of “those” bugs when I looked down at myself waiting in the doctor’s surgery and realised that I was still in my sleep nightie – complete with dried saliva and damp with sweat … and I had odd slides on my feet. At least I had pants on.

My stylish attire didn’t raise a pencilled eyebrow at the doctors or the local corner store – which told me that I need to find a better class of corner store if this is considered normal.

Warning: Stoic sick person ahead (Not!)

In case I didn’t mention it – I don’t do “sick” well. I am a dab hand at injuries of the DIY variety, and age-related body breakdowns and malfunctions are no strangers, but being taken down by a rogue virus for more than two days is almost unheard of in my life.

I have discovered that flus turn me from intelligent adult to whining two year old faster than a box of Tim Tams vaporises in a houseful of hormonal women.

My joints ached like I had done ten rounds with the rack. Any attempts to soak the aches away in the bath looked more like an elephant seal trying to sit in a rocking chair, than a delicate lowering of limbs into water heated to lava like temperature.

My lungs managed to create the lovechild of Spakfilla and slime after they had spent a wild evening together after downing a few too many shots.

My brain found words of more than two syllables more complex than the strongest cyphers, and I slept more than a high school student on school holidays.

The up side of snot

While being sick was as welcome as a protester at the G20, it also gave me space to reflect.

I was too sick to read much (my usual avoidance drug of choice), and TV just gave me a headache.

I found I had nowhere I absolutely needed to go and nothing that I had to deliver. I stopped racing through my life, scattering “To Do Lists in my wake, and all the thoughts and feelings I had outpaced finally had a chance to catch up and swirl past me.

The best bit was that I had the attention span of an ADHD hummingbird, which meant that feelings and thoughts didn’t linger but just presented themselves for viewing and then moved on. If things got too intense, I slipped easily into slumber and processed through fevered dreams rather than logical thought.

Having the flu gave me the space to think – and to be grateful for so many things (home delivered groceries that I could order online so the kids wouldn’t starve was the least of them).

I am on the mend now and am quietly starting to regather my lists in the same way a weaver gathers her threads and increasing my pace to match the rest of life racing past. I am still accompanied by a staccato cough to punctuate the silence and husky voice gentler than normal to remind me of my journey so far.

Now if I can only work out how to give myself that gift of the mental pause without the snot in future, all will be brilliant!

About the Author

Ingrid Moyle

Ingrid Moyle is a self-confessed multipotentialite. While she is now retired from the corporate rat race, she still shamelessly dallies in her latest topics of fascination. When not hardwired to her computer, she quests for the perfect decaf coffee while chasing virtual reality creatures across the backstreets of Brisbane.

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