The Tangential Thinker

There is some sort of flu going around, potentially a very serious epidemic. And I, for one, have been taking it seriously. I got Cranky, Whiny and Punch flu shots. I loaded up on vitamin C and hand sanitizer. I avoided the mall—not because of the flu though, I just don’t like the mall. And I no longer roll my eyes at the paranoid people on the subway with the facemasks. It’s the swine flu, for goodness sake. It’s H1N1. In 1918 more than 50 million people died! I braced for the worst.

It started with Cranky—now bear in mind, we are living in tight quarters while we finish renovations to our house, so the living space immediately became a petri dish. The fuse was lit. The bomb was going to explode. She said she felt tired and she had a fever. She sat on the couch for a couple of days and caught up on her Tivo—personally, my favorite part of having the flu. Two days later she was in the pink. Now Cranky is not your typical kid. Frankly, I wonder if they conducted some weird genetic tests on her when she was a baby because she has the immune system of a Viking, so for whatever reason she had the 48-hour version.

Next it was Whiny’s turn. Honestly, I don’t know what the heck he had. Was he warm? Yes. Did I bother to dig through eight junk drawers to find the thermometer to take his temperature? No. Cough? Yes. Fatigue? Not really, then again on an average day he’s like a jack rabbit with a latte, so I’ll give that a maybe. Two days later…back to school. Finally, Punch got it…a bit worse than the other two, but a few days in bed, another two hanging out with Nanna, and all better.

That’s when I realized it. Here’s the thing about the swine flu: It’s the flu. According to the CDC, symptoms include headache, fever, body aches, chills and nausea. I was picturing Kevin Spacey bleeding from the eyes in Outbreak. Yes, swine flu can be deadly. So can the non-porcine variety. Thousands of people die every year from all kinds of flus. So my question is this: Should I be freaking out every year like I did this year—force-feeding Pedialyte and gummy vitamins? Orrrrr, are Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Kleenex and the lot giving their stock price a much needed shot in the arm (pun intended) by scaring people? I know what the conspiracy theorist inside me thinks. Un fortunately, the mother inside me is headed to Rexall to restock the Purell.

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