In my tenth (maybe eleventh) day of being sicker than I've been my entire life. For the first time I'm feeling semi-human again, though I'm not out of the woods yet.
It begins with lethargy. You'll be cold all the time and break out the heating pad. After a while, you become sensitive to sound. You lie down and soon find yourself drifting in and out of consciousness. And while your laying down, curled up with an extra blanket to fight off the cold, it's shutting down your kidneys and bowels. In a cruel twist, it turns whatever may be left inside you into shards of crystal.
You'll bloat up and get gassy, but the gas won't go anywhere. You'll chew antacid tablets in twos and threes and pray for a simple fart. You'd prefer a nice long one that sounds like a motorcycle going by, to get rid of some of this bloat. But after a while, you know that's not going to happen.
There'll be hours and hours of sitting on the toilet to little effect, feeling like you're trying to give birth to an alien baby (pro-tip: Bring a chair into the bathroom with a pillow on the seat facing the toilet. Use it to lie down and rest for a while. You're not going anywhere.)
Knowing you've got to go to bed sometime, you'll find creative uses for handtowels.
You wake up in the middle of the night with pillow, sheets, and t-shirt soaking wet. It's your body doing whatever it can to get rid of excess fluid, because it's certainly not exiting in the usual way. You take off your drenched t-shirt, throw another one on, and try to catch a few hours sleep. You wake up a short time later in the same situation. How can one person expel so much liquid?
Getting out of bed, you look at the disgusting bedclothes and want to wash them. But it's been going on for three nights already. You don't want to wash them only to have to do it again. You don't have the energy for it anyway.
You've dropped twelve pounds in a week.
You run out of food (and long for comfort food) so you dare a quick trip to the supermarket, hoping the creative use of the handtowel, which you will absolutely not leave the house without, doesn't bulge. You bump into a neighbor and plaster on a smile and say hello. She isn't buying it.
"You don't look so good," she'll say.
You'll drop the pretense and confess you're sick. Three days later, knowing you've got to get something substantial inside you (though nothing has come out in quite some time) you'll go to the local fast food joint where maybe the counter person recognizes you. You plaster on that fake smile and ask for a McMuffin, knowing you'll only eat a bite or two. She'll look at you and ask, "Are you all right? You don't look so good."
There's no hiding this sickness.
It will be days before the more traditional "flu-like" symptoms make their appearance, sore throat and swollen glands and whatnot. But after what you've already been through, these will seem a welcome arrival.
So, ten (maybe eleven) days in, I'm not out of the woods yet. But things in the gastro-intestinal region seem to be unfreezing themselves. I was able to type this up. That's progress.
But to the naysayers who think this thing is overblown hooey, I say keep washing your hands and coughing into your arm. Because I don't know what this thing is.
But it's not a flu.