Naumovich: Finding good fortune in (eww) the flu

Dan Naumovich

As luck would have it, I didn’t get a flu shot this season. Then on New Year’s Day, Fortuna smiled upon me and I took ill in a big way. Just like that, I had a topic for my first column of 2013.

The particular strain of influenza that took hold seemed duty-bound to put me through the wringer and it did not shirk its mission. Allow me to regale you in its wonder.

While the flu isn’t something that one looks forward to, it is still something that should be “experienced.” What I mean is that a brief illness, one that you can be fairly certain will pass within a week or so, offers the opportunity to break free from the banality of the daily routine in favor of something different. It’s a lot like going on vacation in this respect. But it is incumbent upon the traveler to take note of the strange, exotic things in his midst.

In my experience, the flu usually first gives notice in the evening hours when hints of symptoms begin to surface. Then by morning it formally announces itself, leaving the host no doubt that something vile has taken up residence and will be fighting for primacy over all bodily functions.

This time was different. I arose New Year’s Day feeling more or less chipper. At work the previous day, I had brokered a peace deal back home by promising that we’d go sledding the next day if the boys would cease all acts of terrorism against their sisters, and I was ready to make good on the accord.

We hit the slope by mid-morning and all was well until we packed up to head back home, at which time a switch seemed to have been flipped causing most of my more familiar muscles to ache in chorus.

By the time we made it home, a case of the chills had left me shivering in a highly emotive fashion. Had I been playing the role of “prisoner in electric chair” in a Three Stooges short, my performance would have been widely panned as being over-the-top.

It was clear then what was happening, so I jumped into bed and let the adventure begin.

It’s easy to take a dim view of things when the core of your being is under fierce viral assault, but that’s just sour thinking. There is good fortune in even the dourest of situations.

In my case, the bone-shaking sneezing didn’t begin until the day after the skull-crushing headache had ceased – otherwise, I would have been concussed several times over. Such blessings should not go uncounted.

There are mysteries that unfold during illness as well. The body’s ability to produce a seemingly endless flow of mucous is truly remarkable and leaves one to speculate that it might hold the key to developing a reliable source of renewable energy.

When all was said and done, I had experienced it all: headaches, body aches, stuffy nose, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, chills. At one point I even made myself throw up, reasoning that I would regret it later if I didn’t at least give it a try. It would have been like going to Rome and touring all of the palazzos and piazzas, but then taking a pass on the Pantheon.

I won’t go as far as to recommend an illness for your next winter getaway. Beaches and tropical climes still have much to recommend them. But if you do happen to find yourself slipping down the road to Fluville, be sure to check out the fever dreams and night sweats. It’s a trip you won’t soon forget.

Dan Naumovich is a freelance business writer and fledgling author. He can be reached at