Anne Horrigan Geary: Febrile dreams

Saturday February 23, 2013


Having emerged from a 12-hour stint of febrile dreams in the post-apocalyptic flu/fugue state, I am certain of only one thing: next year I shall get a flu shot. Over the past week, I have endured more muscle aches than the entire team of spring-training Red Sox. The invisible bands of steel wrapped around my head were the worst kind of mummy gauze.

In mixed company I won’t mention the issues with my gastro-intestinal tract; but I was as impressed by their abilities as Marty McFly of "Back to the Future" fame was with the flux capacitor.

If I were a wrestler and the flu were my in-ring opponent, I was slammed, whammed, and hammered. The match was over before I knew it. I spent a week on the mat, having all kinds of weird in- and out-of-body experiences.

Being pummeled by an unseen virus seems like the cruelest way to go.

Oddly enough, I always used to get flu shots -- and every other vaccine available -- right on schedule. In the classroom days, it was a wise investment. Since retiring, I’ve had more time to get to a flu clinic; but less inclination to do so, believing my exposure to all kinds of germs is much smaller. Of course I know now -- all too well -- it only takes one.

Surviving a bout of flu is not so difficult. "Rest" is my middle name. Put me in a comfy chair with a good read, and I’ll stay put for hours. The problem was: I couldn’t concentrate enough to enjoy anything more complicated than the morning paper or my email. The Nook sat sad and lonely by the armchair while I tossed and turned on the sofa, or in bed. I even slept fitfully one night sitting upright in the TV-watching chair. I didn’t watch TV because the many shrill or sudden sounds bothered my head. I blamed caffeine withdrawal for sharpening my senses, not in a pleasant way.

When I could eat anything, there seemed to be a metallic aftertaste. Even Bert’s dull, boring oatmeal couldn’t cut the mustard.

Retreating to childhood remedies, I rediscovered the joys of flat ginger ale and Jello water. Jello water was a recipe from our pediatrician’s office: a couple of teaspoons of Jello in a glass of water warm enough to dissolve it, then cooled to room temperature, and ingested a spoonful at a time. Our family favorite was lime, and I have many, many memories of whipping up that soothing drink. I think flat soda goes back further, as I’m sure I drank it when I was a kid. Seeing the dark, green ginger ale bottle itself is a soothing memory. Maybe that’s why I’m partial to the green Mohawk bottle on my windowsill.

I’m sure everyone has some kind of recurring dream like being chased or being unable to reach something you are trying to catch. Since I have driving-over-bridges phobia, I often dream about being in a car on a steeply-inclined bridge deck and feeling that once I reach the top I will fly off into space. Last week, I was in a car on a road that roughly approximated the Southeast Expressway, hemmed in by heavy traffic, and roaring up a bridge. My son was in his car seat in the back and we were headed for home. Next thing I know, we’re huddled in a narrow passageway in a city hotel basement, making way for the pope and his entourage to move past. Shrinks will have a field day with that one!

All I know for sure is that when I finally awoke from that long, deep sleep I was feeling refreshed, though drenched in sweat. I had my first half cup of coffee, some dry toast, and believed I was on the mend.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.


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