Friday, March 20, 2009

The Flu, Instant Gratification, and the Art of Hurling

Puking is ugly business.

Okay, let's keep this civil. Vomiting is ugly business. It feels awful. It is, as we all know, a time where we just don't seem to be in control. It's distressing. It's uncomfortable. It's unpleasant. We have all been there every now and is as inevitable as taxes and death.

The flu has now taken hold of the community in which I live. Toilets are working overtime. If you listen attentively you can almost hear the rumbling of a collective retch. Restaurants are closing early and supermarkets are stocking up on Pepto. It is that time of the year when we refrain from shaking hands and keep our distance "because you DON'T want this flu bug!" It has made it's way through my family, and the washing machine has been running non-stop.

As an emergency room nurse, I am suddenly surrounded with "emesis" (nice technical name for chunks). But it's an interesting comment on our society, in my humble opinion, on just who is seeking care. The elderly? Nope, these troopers wait it out at home. The middle-aged? Naw, they stay in bed until its done. Children? Uh-uh. Mom takes care of them. Who, then, is flooding my ER?

It is the twenty and thirty-somethings. They can't seem to handle illness. They have no concept of puking in the privacy of their own bathroom. They insist it is food poisoning and ask me to send their offernings to the lab for analysis, or they are certain there is something REALLY REALLY WRONG. They demand to feel better NOW.

In our culture, where information, communication, and interaction are as close as a keyboard and monitor, where texting and cell phones keep us in touch at all times, where a Blackberry can be used to make a call, check hockey scores, balance our checkbooks and find a store that sells Netti pots, there is no TIME for illness! FIX ME! The blind belief that all illness is ultimately controllable is really false. Flu just kind of needs to work it's way through us. Not much we can do about it.

Don't get me wrong. I have a cell phone. I have two computers. I like to blog and I like facebook. When I am sick I whine like a cat that has crawled under the house to die. But, c'mon, the flu is the flu. For those of us who are relatively healthy, we just need to wait it out. Patience? Suffering? Perseverence? We can do it. Just make sure you make it to the bathroom on time...

Here are a couple sites on how to get through the flu season I found helpful:

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