The Flu: The Worst Sickness I’ve Ever Had

me flu

I contemplated even sharing my experience with the flu. This is, after all, a running and fitness blog. But it’s also my life, and for a week, I felt terrible. The flu was the worst sickness I’ve had in my adult life. I’ll start by saying I’ve been fairly lucky not to get sick a lot throughout my life. I know I’m privileged to say that.

me flu

Even before the pandemic, I rarely got sick. Maybe it’s my lack of social life (and likely because I don’t have children to bring things home).

Since the pandemic, my spouse and I have worn masks. We also haven’t gone to a lot of crowded or big events. It’s only been in the last couple of months that the military base has released its mandate for wearing masks on base. Yes, really. For over two years, you were required to wear a mask indoors at all times (and yes, you would get scolded 100% of the time if your mask wasn’t above your nose). My spouse and I have been even more careful because he’s spent the last year in a highly intense program where there isn’t much time to get sick. Getting sick and quarantining could mean missing enough classes and flights to fail out of the program. So, on top of just not wanting to get sick, he also doesn’t want to fail out. All of this to say, we’ve been careful, but we’ve also been lucky.

But not perfect, and I traveled 3x to travel back to the East Coast to see family. I thought for sure if I was going to get sick, it would be then.

Anyway, I say this to share my story, not virtue signal. We all make choices, and I made mine. Another choice I made was I didn’t make time this year to get the flu shot. In the past, it was always easy to go to a CVS within a mile, get the shot come home. In the desert, it means driving 30 minutes, getting the shot, and driving back. I never made that time. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I forgot, things popped up, or I didn’t schedule a day. It was my fault.

So how did I end up with the flu? Some crazy and fun party? My husband spent about three weeks on a work trip. He went across the country three times on commercial flights. He probably came into contact with someone who had the flu and brought it back. If you’ve been to LAX, you know it’s packed closer than sardines.

I picked him up from LAX on a Saturday and ran a 5-mile race on Sunday. I felt fine, and it was one of my better races in the last year. I thought: “maybe this was the start of my come back.” As I’ve said for the last three years? Anyway.

That Monday, I woke up extremely tired. I was able to run, but I just felt tired. I spent most of the day napping, thinking I would get work done the next day. That Tuesday, I woke up feeling better, and my friend and I decided to swim. We did about 2000 yards, but it felt “hard,” and I didn’t feel great. By 3 pm that day, I felt like garbage and fell asleep for the night at 4 pm.

When I woke up Wednesday, I had a fever of 102 and could barely walk from my bedroom to kitchen without feeling exhausted. From Wednesday-Saturday, I laid on the sofa. My fever was 102, and I felt I had no strength to do anything. At one point, I tried walking from my bedroom to the kitchen, but I didn’t have the energy to make it and just napped on the floor for 2 hours. It was all of 100 feet, but I felt too exhausted to make the entire journey.

My appetite was fine the entire week, and I could eat fairly normally. Early on, I decided all I wanted was pasta, and that is pretty much all I ate for a week straight. My goal was to eat three full meals a day. They were all pasta. I didn’t particularly want to make it back healthy, having lost several pounds and feeling weak because I didn’t eat. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday all looked the same. I took COVID tests, but they all came out negative. I was fully aware there are a lot of false positives, so I kept waiting for one to be positive. I spent hours on the couch watching TV. I thought maybe I had watched everything on Netflix and Hulu and scrolled every Tiktok in existence.

By Saturday, I developed a nasty cough. During the day, it went from dry, to “productive”. My cough was painful and my fever as still at 102. Since I felt no better and now had a nasty cough, we decided to make the journey 45 minutes into town and to the Urgent Care. I do enjoy the desert, but the hardest part has been medical care. It doesn’t matter when you’re ok, but when you need to go to the doctor, it’s a pain because everything is so far. The closest hospital is 33 miles away, and most specality care places are 75-90 minutes. I digress.

At the hospital, they did a COVID test, as well as blood test, urine test, and chest x-ray. They determined I had the flu (as we suspected) and prescribed me some medicine. I didn’t have pneumonia, bronchitis, or COVID…”just the flu.” The normal flu.

I was glad to “have answers” but when people said “oh glad you JUST have the flu”, I thought: “I do not just have anything…this is terrible”.

On Sunday and Monday, I thought for sure I would feel better. Overnight from Sunday to Monday, I woke up drenched in sweat. I had sweat through my clothes, sheets, and blankets. It was so gross I left and slept in a different bed. I thought: “I’ve finally broke my fever,” and on Monday morning my fever was 99.9. Then it climbed back over 100 during the day. Sometime in the afternoon on Monday, I had a meltdown. I was tired of being sick and staying at home for a week straight. I didn’t feel like I was getting better.

Then on Tuesday, I woke up without a fever and had most of my energy back. As quickly as the flu came, it disappeared. I was left with a dry cough that causes everyone to look at me and question “is she sick”. It’s been about two weeks, and I still have a cough that comes and goes but other than that, I’m ok.

Getting back into sports has been especially hard. I took a full week off of anything, and now I feel like I am starting from scratch. I know that isn’t true, but it feels like it. Running feels hard, and it wasn’t until another week later that I went from terrible to mediocre. Swimming feels even more challenging since that is a sport that requires you to hold your breath and your lungs are already weak. I know it will get better, but patience is not a virtue I was blessed with.

Anyway, I know many people say, “it’s just the flu,” but I would truly like never to experience that again, and I hope you don’t, either.

Questions for you:

Have you gotten the flu?

What is the sickest you’ve ever been?

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  1. I’ve gotten the flu vaccine every year for at least 40 years, except for one year. There was a shortage of the vaccine that year and I couldn’t find a place to get it. That was the one time that I ever got the flu. I had a fever for a week and didn’t fully recover for a month. The next year, there was another shortage, so I said that I was immunocompromised to make sure that was eligible for the vaccine. Now I get the high-dose quadrivalent vaccine every year on September 15th. I understand that’s the optimal date. Not too early and not too late.

  2. my family and i all caught covid at the same event. everyone else tested positive two days after as expected. i tested negative for almost two weeks (several antigen and a PCR over the two week span) before i tested positive. yes, i could have caught it from one of them, but we were all masked and sequestered at home once they got the positives. i was sure i had it when they had it as any symptoms i had were when they were positive. when i finally tested positive, i felt fine. it’s a strange illness. maybe you had the flu. that was a heck of a flu though. either way i’m glad that you are feeling better. i have been so ill i couldn’t lift my head up from the bed, but that was from bacterial infection.

    1. I hope you feel better, Nancy! I’ve learned a lot about the flu in the last few weeks, and I didn’t realize how bad it can get, but I had a rather “typical case” as diagnosed by the doctor and got a flu+blood test ruling out it wasn’t COVID (no antibodies from the blood). I really hope you feel better.

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