The dreaded influenza.
Ever since coming to Japan I've heard of this dreaded Influenza. I've been fortunate to have missed it each year - up until recently.
As a child I remember catching the flu... it wasn't fun, but a couple days in a dark room, resting on a nice bed with some apple juice or ginger ale on the bed stand and a number of days off school. This was followed by another day of at home, but free to watch tv or play with toys before rejoining my classmates.
That was a long, long time ago. I'm now nearing my forties. I have children of my own and taking time off work is usually reserved for doing some family events. Unfortunately, the start of 2019 was not so kind. I caught influenza. I assume it came from inside a train on the way to or from work or maybe from a random child on the playground the weekend before.
It started off as an uneventful Tuesday morning working from home. I felt a little off and decided to head to the clinic in the morning. I caught a few colds over the winter, mostly from my kids... this felt like the start of another one. Doctor also thought the same and gave me the typical medication for the occasion. The rest of the day went as usual... and with me feeling off in the evening still. Felt like I had a fever... but if I had, it was low grade and I just ignored it. Then went to bed.
Next morning I woke up with a fever. Oh yay. So I took the day off work and took it easy. Had an afternoon nap and woke up with a 40℃ fever. I took some fever medicine from the Japanese pile of pills we have stashed away. Fever didn't go down. About 4 hours later I took some trusty no-name ibuprofen. Fever still didn't go down. It was starting to suck. I had no power, so I just laid there, trying to drink some water and sleep. The wife calls the doctor to find out if there's anything they can do... turns out, after the fever shows up it takes about 24 hours before they can determine if it's the flu or not. Any earlier and it has a good chance of coming back saying "its not influenza yet, but it could be". The test is simple.. it either is influenza, or it might be influenza. So I had to suck it up until the next morning.
By around 21:00 my fever hit an all time high of 41.7℃ (according to the thermometer being used...). Personally, I can handle up to 40℃ and take care of myself if need be.. but it's good to push new boundaries right? My wife looked up ways to cool the body down and came up with a better method than my "douse myself in a cool bath and brute force my temperature down" style. Ice packs in the armpits and around the nape of the neck. After about an hour my body was back down to 38℃ and I was doing much better. I even managed to drag my temperature back down to 36.7℃ by a little after midnight.
Aaannd... the next morning it was right back up. At the clinic with 38 degrees of heat packed away. The doctor gave me the good news, it's influenza! He then told me all the previous medications are no use for this and to just toss them. He instead gave me a single dose (2 pills) medication developed the previous year for influenza in Japan. My wife tells me her friends that have had to take it started feeling better within a few hours. Apparently, that's pretty typical for the drug.
Not me though. Why take the easy route when you can drag your knuckles, kicking and screaming the whole way? The medicine I'm sure did it's job... but it took its sweet time. The doctors said it works quick for some... and with others you just have to (in polite as it gets, indirectly worded typical Japanese style) bare with it. That's right... the whole day it was ice under the pits and around my neck and all I could achieve was holding at 38℃. The fever medication was doing nothing for me at the time.
Thursday was much of the same, except I managed without as much ice. My fever held closer to the 38℃ mark with the occasional trip towards 40℃ lane. I slept a lot of the time, and probably didn't drink enough liquids during the day.
Friday went much better.
Saturday even more so, until my kids came down and my youngest had a fever :( Turns out he caught influenza from me. From this point I was doing alright, minus needing some recovery... but it was a lot of Daddy - Son time now. The first day he was quiet, and he slept with me downstairs away from everyone else (my bedroom for the past week). Neither of us slept much that night.
It did get better though! It just took a while.
Anyway, I'm back at work now, about a full week from where I started and my youngest is still a little sick, but recovering much faster than I did.
Things to remember:
- don't catch influenza
- drink lots if you do
- no mater the level of fever inducing hallucination, do everything possible to keep the kids from catching influenza
- influenza is a bad, but effective way to lose some body fat (well.. the fevers kill appetite)