10 Reasons Why Having The Flu Completely Sucks

Editor’s Note: I’ve been a bit under the weather for the past few days, which means that I’ve had no desire to work on a fresh blog post or check my email or communicate with another human in any way. Mea culpa. In the interim, here’s one from the archives.


1. The massive, pounding headache.

Your sinuses have swollen to the size of grapefruits, forcing everything else in your head to adjust, and nobody is really happy about that. Every single pain receptor in your noggin is reporting the dissatisfaction. It’s an overload of misery every waking second, leading to dark moments when you actually consider just cutting your head off, because that can’t possibly hurt any worse. Maybe somebody can staple your head back on later, but for now, you just want the pain to go away, even if it takes a machete. (You can get these at Army Surplus. I checked the Internet one desperate morning at 3am.)

2. The non-productive cough.

So, you get all this fluid buildup in your lungs. This is not a good thing. You want to get all of the goopy stuff out, because it’s cutting off your oxygen and making your extremities turn blue. But does this crap cooperate? Of course not. Apparently there’s some Velcro action going on, because the evil clumps will NOT MOVE. No matter what you do. They cling with determination, laughing wickedly.

Yet your body continues the attempts at evacuation, repeatedly sending pointless signals to your interior coughing mechanism, triggering that whooping, hippopotamus-in-heat, throat-slicing bray that produces nothing. And you can’t stop, because when you try to suck in air and keep from passing out, that satanic tickle in your throat and/or lungs kicks off another round of donkey noises. Every five minutes you’re dying another tiny death. It’s enough to make you do incredibly mean things to otherwise innocent people.

3. The destruction of the rain forest.

At first, you try to have some cultural decency and utilize actual tissues when performing maintenance on your constantly-dripping nose and hacking mouth. This, however, doesn’t last very long, at least for me. Those miniscule tissues don’t hold squat, especially when that nasty phlegm finally gets bored and lets go of your lungs. You need something with a higher storage capacity. This means industrial-strength toilet paper, rolls of it, stacked around your sickbed like an army of casket-bearers.

Now you can rip off great swaths of the toilet paper, hefty amounts that can professionally receive your unsightly shipment. I use far more than I should, because I don’t want that mess touching me after it has left my body. I’m done with it. I don’t want to see it again. We will not be sending each other Christmas cards.

By the end of my standard flu bout, I will have used roughly 300 rolls of toilet paper. I understand that this is somewhat selfish, and that certain people will look at me with disdain over my apparent disregard for the environment. I’m sorry, Bono. But I’m sick and I don’t care. Let the trees die.

4. The nose confetti.

As a companion to Number 3, this mess appears toward the end of the flu cycle, and can continue for up to a week after you are finally healthy again. Your poor nose, rubbed and abraded repeatedly for several days, is now in rehab. It is transforming itself back into a regular nose again. This means it is shedding its former skin. These bits of skin, peppering your honker, will make it look like you shoved your nose up a scarecrow’s ass. It’s not pretty.

But there’s not anything you can do about it other than just deal. Wait for the snowfall to stop. In the interim, try to avoid other people, for their own safety. All it can take is a brief gust of wind to stir things up, and everyone around you could lose an eye from the flying debris. Be kind, don’t blind.

5. The bed becomes your enemy.

It doesn’t matter what position you assume in your sickbed, it’s not going to be comfortable. This is one of the rules of flu life. You will not find the comfort zone, so just arrange your ass in the least painful manner, and then just lay there and suffer. There’s no other way to get through it. If being sick was fun, we’d have amusement parks like Worlds of Mucus and Six Hacks Over Texas. We don’t.

6. The crazed appetite.

If you have any type of hunger for sustenance during your down time (and most of the time you will not), it will be for obscure and bizarre things. You won’t want normal food. During this current round of misery, the only thing I’m wanting to eat are Strawberry Pop-Tarts and Reese’s cups, both of them beacons of nutrition. I don’t want anything else. Yes, I’ve been shoving minimal bits of protein in my mouth from time to time, because I really would like to continue living, but I’m not happy about the arrangement.  I want fake pastry and chocolate-covered peanut butter. End of story.

7. You grow to hate people that you love.

I know that my partner is only trying to show support and compassion by checking on me from time to time. I really do. But constantly asking me if “I’m feeling better” only reminds me that I am not, especially if I have finally managed to drift off right at the second you come clattering into the room. I’ll send you a telegram if there’s a status change. In the mean time, if you should peek in the room and I have my middle finger fully extended in your direction, don’t take it personally. It’s the fever. Really.

8. The loss of time.

Wait, what day is it? Why isn’t the sun out? Is it time for more medicine? Have I bathed today? Hey, who the hell used up all the toilet paper in the house!

9. The religious conversion.

Nothing puts you in a spiritual place quite like twenty minutes of non-stop coughing, convinced that you are never going to breathe again, and you will perish right here in your bed that smells like a locker room. You will promise anything to the god of your choice. Anything. Of course, the second that you start to feel better, you will go right back to sinning and drinking, because we’re flawed humans who screw up all the time and are destroying the planet. Our bad.

10. The incredible pain.

Every single bone, muscle and tissue in my body is screaming in agony from all the coughing and the not-breathing. It hurts to blink my eyelids. But the most painful thing of all? The fact that my healthcare provider offers flu shots. For free, no charge. They even sent me several mailers saying “Hey, might wanna get that free flu shot. Come on in! It’s free! Hell, we’ve even got drive-thru service if you’re pressed for time.” But did I?

Actually, I did. As soon as they were offered, I was in line, hand up. Me! I want one! I don’t care for needles, but I care less for being flat on my back for a week and not being able to eat cheese without repercussions. So stick me!

And I still got sick, which means that somebody lied to me somewhere along the line, which is going to happen in any relationship, even if it’s with your doctor. (We’re guilty both ways with the lies: “Yes, doctor, I’ve been exercising every day, I don’t know why the weight isn’t coming off.”) On a side note, I should probably speak to my financial advisor about investing in toilet paper. I’ve had plenty of time to ponder such things while I was too weak to move, and I think a retirement plan based on desperate people with sinus issues seems pretty sound…


Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 09/28/10 and Bonnywood Manor on 01/03/14 and 12/08/16. No changes have been made as I’m not back to my normal self and don’t yet care about grammatical or thematic righteousness. Housekeeping note: I am considerably behind in responding to comments and keeping up with everyone’s posts, and I appreciate your patience. I just peeked at my Gmail account, noted that I had 756 unread emails, and I promptly closed the program. Tomorrow is another day.


37 replies »

  1. ❤️
    Why do we get so grumpy with people who care but yes, if I’ve said I felt terrible an hour ago chances are I’m not miraculously feeling better. It’s the most annoying question ever. Or if I’ve finally fallen asleep after one hour of a coughing spell and they open the door just to see if I’m alive. Annnnd I’m awake again. 😑

    Liked by 2 people

    • It never fails. I will be reclining dramatically on the sick bed, forlorn and reciting French verb conjugations in my head to distract me from the pain, mere millimeters away from slumber, when here comes Florence Nightingale clattering through the door like a freight train…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t had a flu jab in decades, they made me so ill at the time and didn’t stop me getting it. Guess what? Never had it since! Of course I take good care of my immune system, but it seems very random to me how they choose which strain of flu to use in the jabs as they almost always seem to get it wrong, as they have disastrously this year. My husband doesn’t have them either and he has only been really ill once, for 4 days. Again, he keeps himself fit. I am not advocating this tactic, of course what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another, especially if you have another chronic condition. Just saying. Feel better soon. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, the yearly flu vaccination is truly an (understandable) “spin the wheel” kind of thing, with professionals scrambling to determine which flu strains to focus on in a given season. I almost always get the shot, knowing they may not help, but definitely wanting to show how proactive I’ve been should something go terribly wrong and I have to deal with the insurance company. American medical coverage is ridiculously complicated and you want everything in order should there be an issue. On the other hand, I greatly admire your dedication to the natural way, as that seems the best…

      Liked by 1 person

      • My brother and sister-in-law recently moved to the US and are currently wrestling with medical insurance amd the vagaries of insurance companies, it appears that colonoscopies are as necessary as cleaning your teeth!

        Liked by 1 person

    • The bed stopped being comfy the first time I sneezed erratically and whacked my noggin on the headboard. Of course, such a thing could happen on any given day with me, as my grace and agility are not to be admired… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. *snicker* (softly, in case that sound sets off another world class head ache). Those two go together like that regrettable choice of ‘friend’ one picked in 9th were inseparable, but you now ponder the validity of being allowed to do ‘adult’ things like that and voting. I had the missing headache (which you didn’t mention, but which I thought I would) today and am sending it back to you, parcel post. Which means, given the govermint shut-down and how well USPS works, you’ll get it in roughly June. I didn’t put on a return address either.. My sympathies to you. I had the flu shot, and even so I’ve spent most of this ‘winter’ (hehehhee….it’s been 46 degrees and mostly warm all the time, so what winter?) barracaded in my house, to avoid those who want to share the joy of flu. These sadistic folks gather at church events and stores, where they spread the joy far and wide, hacking and sneezing, and getting little droplets of goo everywhere…on hymnals and small children, and the last package of Strawberry Pop-tarts available. Bastards. At least you had the common courtesy to stay in your uncomfortable bed of pain and send the partner out for forays to obtain chocolate and more t.p. Bless you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always do my best to stay away from any member of society the very second that I suspect I may be in the throes of a bodily revolt. It’s just the right thing to do. And yet so many heathens don’t take any precautions whatsoever, flooding the streets and byways and grocery stores with their percolating unsavoriness. Topping that, they don’t even bother to control their pestilence in public, unleashing voluminous germs in every direction as they sneeze with unrestricted gusto in public settings, showering a five-mile radius with mucous fallout. No concern at all for their fellow man. Is it any wonder that Trump got elected?


  4. I am in the middle of numbers 3, 4 and 5. But you forgot the nausea and fever. I had enough fever to light up a small town and enough nausea to … well, you know. The idea of having someone shoot me was becoming attractive. H3N2 seriously kicked my butt until there was hardly any bit of it left.

    Don’t worry about all the comments – you’ve got a good reason to just let ’em go. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interestingly enough, there was no nausea with this round. None. Okay, there was one brief bit with a minimal amount of gastrointestinal discomfort, but that had more to do with me stupidly deciding that I simply must have biscuits and sausage gravy during the two seconds that I was actually hungry…


  5. First, I hope you get well really really soon. Secondly, I agree with EVERYTHING, because I’ve only now managed to kick off my flu symptoms after 3 weeks of being sick to the point of wanting to die rather than have this miserable life of a flu-stricken person. God had cruel ways to torture us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Three weeks? Oh, no, I couldn’t handle feeling like I did for such a long time. I would have no choice but to turn into one of those people who makes very poor choices and then ends up in a late-night documentary where witnesses say things like “He was such a nice guy. We had no idea he would attack the mailman like that.”


  6. Yep. All of this. Every last bit. This is an especially bad flu season, i’ve read. This year’s edition particularly virulent. I had a shot this year and haven’t had the flu .. yet. Knock on wood. But i’m not counting my chickens. This flu season, i’ve also read, could last through the furst week of May. Blech v

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be honest, this is the first time I’ve been sick this cycle, which is somewhat surprising. I usually get it good and hard (ahem) in November or at least by early December. So in a certain way I’ve been luckier than normal. Still, I was not impressed…


  7. I hope you are doing better! My family just recently gotten over the flu last week and I turned into super mom to get everyone better. The flu is really kicking it this season. Yikes! Feel better!!

    Liked by 1 person

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