It's that time of year when half of the office is out on sick leave and the other half sounds like it is rehearsing for an audition with the National Coughing Chorus. Along with that, at least in my world, comes the annual Flu Shot Debate. My dad calls me up to find out if I've gotten the latest flu shot for this year's "worst flu epidemic of all time". I never have, I never do, and as my life stretches out in front of me, I can imagine that I possibly never will.
Not surprisingly, given the number of people we know who are sick, last week my boyfriend and I were talking about flu shots.
Hold on. Have I properly introduced you to my life? As a recap, my boyfriend and I began dating in '09 and now live together in a cute pink and blue Tudor-style house in a Los Angeles valley neighborhood. He has two daughters, aged 8 and 12, and they split their time almost 50-50 between our house and their mother's which is about five miles away. Between us, their mom and step-dad, their god-mother, and the whole community that makes up our little world, our girls have a village raising them. Mostly it works out pretty well. Sometimes there are "values" differences between our house and their mom's, but we like to think that the differences give the girls a broader perspective on life. Occasionally, we hit upon some issue that their dad and mom try to resolve - usually under the general category of "Health".
So, last week we were talking about flu shots. The girls' mother is considering getting the girls the shots. At a 60% success rate for avoidance of the flu, and given that the girls are hardly in the risk demographic for extreme flu consequences (death), my boyfriend and I both believe that they should not have the shots.
"Why are people so afraid of getting sick?" I said.
I've been wondering about that lately. Of course, I hate being sick just as much as everyone else. But, I do love a lazy day in bed. I fantasize about a late morning reading, dozing for a bit, maybe watching an afternoon movie. I rarely get those kinds of days, and although I love my life, it is a pretty fantasy, even if the reality comes with a stuffy head and achy body.
I understand that getting sick is inconvenient to our schedules, but that just seems so small-minded to me. In the bigger picture, getting sick is part of life, it's part of the balance of health. Most of the time, for a generally healthy individual, getting sick helps our bodies to better combat bugs over time. It's like working out with weights - we break down the muscle in order for it to be even stronger as it repairs.
"Maybe we get sick because we don't give ourselves enough zone-out time. It's the body's way of saying, hey, slow down." I distinctly recall saying this to my boyfriend last week while we were talking. I distinctly recall believing it to be true.
I distinctly think I may have jinxed myself.
Did I accidentally put that prayer out into the universe? Something or someone must have heard me because midway through dinner on Saturday night I suddenly knew I desperately needed a Claritin. I don't generally have allergies, but I could feel my body begin to react to some mystery trigger that, now for the third time in ten months, has appeared in my life. I've spent the past two days exhausted as my body deals with its reaction to the unknown source that has me all red and splotchy, and hiding from the sun. My normally skinny fingers are swollen like sausages. My gums hurt when I brush my teeth. Even my softest clothes feel scratchy against my skin. I can't exercise right now because I can't stand to be over-heated. I'm bundled in layers because my skin is overly sensitive to being cold. Since I've found daily exercise to be the main thing that keeps me sane (for the sake of us all), I would feel exceptionally miserable right now except for this fact:
On Sunday morning, before the full effects of the allergic reaction settled in, and while Los Angeles was still wrapped in chilly high-40s, for the first time in months I ran almost 11 miles. Even as I groaned through the last few minutes, I could feel my runner's high. Even as I feel pretty crappy right now from this sickness, I still feel cloaked in my superhero cape from Sunday's run.
January 20, 2013.
Los Angeles, CA
Temperature in the high 40's-50's
average pace: 9:49 per mile
January 18, 2013.
Los Angeles, CA
Temperature in the 70's
average pace: 8:26 per mile
January 17, 2013.
Los Angeles, CA
Temperature in the 60's
average pace: 8:58 per mile