The 7 Phases of the Stomach Flu (Minus All the Gross Stuff)

Saturday, March 24, 2018


I'm really sensitive to the fact that I seem to be sick "all the time," which people seem to mention to me every time I'm not feeling well. I have chronic pain from my back issues, & I also seem to have bum sinuses, so usually when I'm sick, it's more like "sick" - I feel gross, but I'm not, like, contagious or totally down for the count. Like, apparently I had a sinus infection for six effing months last year, so yeah, I guess I spent a lot of time not feeling great. But I feel like I'm actually generally a pretty healthy person...

The stomach flu, though, is on another goddamn level. And lucky me, that seems to be what I came down with last week.

Step 1: The Onset (Dun, Dun, Dunnnn)

You know how, sometimes, you'll sneeze funny & suddenly know: "I just got sick. Right now. In this moment, I am now sick."

That happened to me on Tuesday afternoon, but without the sneeze.

All of a sudden my body started to hurt - badly - while I was working on my computer at a local coffee shop. I straightened up, stretched a little, & immediately felt exhausted. I stuck it out for a little while... until I threw up in the restroom, at which point I headed right home.

Step 2: Stocking Up on Supplies

Before I settled in & succumbed to the sickness, I ran (errr, drove, then walked, slowly) to the corner bodega, where I picked up two purple Gatorades & two packets of NyQuil. "Feel better, sweetie," said the older Egyptian man who owns the place. "We are open until 11 if you need anything."

Nothing says "You look like hell & you're buying the stomach flu starter pack" like words of kindness from the bodega guy.

I came home, chugged one full Gatorade, & took one packet of NyQuil before collapsing into bed.

Step 3: The Panic & the Guilt

Before I fell asleep, I sent my boss a panicked, pathetic email because this has been a huge week, & we were working on a huge campaign, & I felt like I couldn't take off work without people thinking I was shirking my duties (even though it's obvious I've been working really hard, & also, I had the stomach flu, dude).

And then I took off work anyway, obviously, because I could barely move. (My boss was very supportive & kind, by the way, so I had no reason to panic aside from my own neuroses.

Step 4: Allll the Sleeping 

Unfortunately, that first night, sick as I was, I slept pretty poorly because I couldn't stop worrying about work, & also because my body hurt too freaking bad to relax. We're talking, like, creaking joints & throbbing muscles.

I tossed & turned all night, & when my alarm finally went off at 7am, I worked from my phone for, like, three minutes before falling back asleep... & sleeping soundly until I woke up at 2pm.

Step 5: Being Mothered

Mike was out of town on a work trip, so my mom offered to come up to take care of me. While I'd initially shrugged off the offer, I sent her a text early Wednesday morning begging her to come after all - in part because I just wanted my mom, & also because I had a 3pm appointment for a repairman to come fix my wifi... & I could not imagine having to interface with another human being.

When I woke up on Wednesday, I was feeling a little better, & there was my mom, sitting on the living room couch, wearing a face mask. She'd taken Lysol to everything in the apartment & stocked my fridge with Gatorade, homemade matzah ball soup, & applesauce, plus a box of Saltines, steel cut oatmeal, & a carton of almond milk (for the oatmeal). She also brought tissues & a new thermometer.

And she stayed until after 5:30pm, when the repair guy finally left. Mother of the year, y'all. 

Step 6: Allll the Sleeping (Redux)

When my mom left, I went right back to sleep. All told, I slept for nearly 24 hours, I think. I just keep sleeping... & sleeping... & sleeping. I think the fact that I was able to just zone out & sleep for so long is what helped me recover so quickly, but man, it was a lot of sleeping.

Step 7: Entering into Recovery

Like I said, I think the immediate sleeping-of-all-the-hours was fundamental to my speedy rebound. Surprisingly, my body aches had mostly dissipated by Wednesday afternoon, & by Thursday, my headache was mild. My stomach issues are ongoing but also winding down.

I have to work this weekend, a rarity for me, but I can do at my desk in my apartment, in my pajamas. I'm glad I didn't have any big plans for the weekend because I can keep taking it easy.

Soooo yeah. I was sick again.

I still feel crummy, truth be told, but after the way I felt Tuesday night, I may never call myself "sick" again unless I'm, like, actually on my deathbed. This post spared you (& my dignity) by not going into the weeds on the semantics of the stomach flu, but suffice it to say, I haven't felt that awful since the time in college when a random girl in my dorm took me to the E.R. for vomiting so hard I couldn't stand (illness, not hangover).

Truly, the stomach flu ain't nothin' to mess with. But I'd better not get a goddamn sinus infection this spring.

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