Malaruda the chaperone was taking good care of me.

As all my friends and probably their friends know by now, I have just been through a particularly nasty illness, which was diagnosed as the swine flu, or in politically correct terms, the H1N1 flu. Having already explained the symptoms endured h+n times over, I might as well write them down.

To be quite honest, I may have overdone it a bit with the stress on my immune system. Something I tend to do as a true-blooded Aries.  Except that I never get sick. As in, I don’t have colds. I get sick hearing some politicians talk. Or when I am inadvertently exposed to commercials for the latest reality shows. That’s pretty much it. Or, I should say, that used to be pretty much that.

If you must go down, go down with style.

After a strenuous week of exercise, work, seminars and classes as well as putting more than 3,000 km on my car in 7 days and sharing two long rides with a sick guy on antibiotics who failed to mention being unwell, the dance began.

The high fever would come down after paracetamol, only to climb right up again. I went to see a doctor here in Luxembourg whom I picked for her office’s sheer proximity. One block away. It was actually not easy to walk that far and my lungs were not very cooperative in the oxygen-supply department. Having measured my blood pressure and eavesdropped on my lungs, she put on a mask and told me I should not have come to her office as I probably contaminated the entire area and that I should have warned her that I had the swine flu. Ahem? I dragged myself out of there straight to the pharmacy that’s another block away, put on a freshly purchased mask and went back to my pig stall armed with medicines. Never had any blood work done.

All in all, I went through seven days straight of yoyoing between 39°C and 37°C. Reach 39, take a pill that brings it down within one hour, spend the next five hours feeling it rise, then kill it off with another pill. I felt very weak. My entire body was in pain and it was painful to try and breath normally. Taking a deep breath would cause a sharp pain cutting through the lungs and chest, making me cough, which led to more deep breaths and more pain. Sweet. The last three days I spent the second half of the night changing my jammies for something not quite as soaked in sweat.

After a total seven days of this torture, the temp came down and stayed at around 37.5°C for another three days. The swine or whatever she cares to call herself was growing weary. Hurrah for the white blood cells! I think they finally used the big guns and did the polka. They’re fairly secretive and don’t like to share their secret methods of combat.

Not to make this all too dull, my head then decided that it had to spin. And spin it did. Remember those extra-fast merry-go-rounds at the playground? Imagine riding one for three days without getting off. And you don’t even have to get out of bed for the sensation. What fun! Doctor claimed it was the uncivilised dancer leaning in for a closer look at my inner ear. These particular ungulates never have been known for good manners, have they.

I do not recommend this dance-a-thlon to friends. Or to foes, for that matter. It has left me tired and weak. I can tell that it will take me a few weeks to fully recover, but the one consolation I have is that it’s a one-time-only affair and the inconsiderate virus will now have to stay at bay.

It seems that among friends and colleagues I have been promoted to the position of a question box for all inquiries related to the H1N1 flu. Honestly, guys, I know about as much as you do. Since my blood was never tested, I cannot even be entirely certain that the diagnosis was correct. The one thing everyone seems to be asking me is “should I get vaccinated”. Hey, it’s your call. It depends on your own personal circumstances and the state of your health and you would do well to discuss it with your physician. Given a choice between enduring the possible side effects of the vaccine that might include a slight fever for a few days and the truly uncomfortable ordeal I have endured, I know exactly what my choice would have been. Regardless of any and all pharmaceutical-industry-related conspiracy theories. But hey, hindsight has always been 20-20.

EDIT: I must add my thanks here. To all my cats, feline and human, for the bountiful TLC, to Tina for doing my grocery shopping and cooking chicken soup for me, to my family for calling and checking up on me (actually made me think I should get sick more often), to friends writing e-mails and Facebook messages. You all made such a difference. Thanks!