How Flu Affects Teens

(circa 1985–Italy)

I don’t need to look at the calendar to know what time of year it is–by all of the coughing, sneezing, and suffering going on at our house it must be the cold and flu season.

And this year’s strain of “B-Victoria” flu can be far more dangerous than you expect.

Not only can it make you miserable, ill, and feverish, it can transform your husband from mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll into a growling, mean Mr. Hyde. It can turn the best-behaved children into quivering, helpless masses of self-pity. And it can drive mothers crazy.

Flu affects people in two varying ways. It makes some (my husband) become growling, grumpy bears who should lock themselves into their rooms to hibernate until they are human again. But it has a far more eerie effect on more susceptible individuals–it turns their minds to mush and their bones to jelly.

Previously capable people become helpless lumps of misery.

“Mom, I need a drink of water,” becomes a constant cry.

“Mom, I’m dying.”

“Mom, change the T.V. channel.” (I wonder if his hand holding the remote control is paralyzed.)

“Mom, my fever is so high my hair is on fire.”

However, some individuals, especially teenagers, are so transformed by the flu that not only their physical abilities but their mental facilities are affected.

My son was in agony, with his nose running like Niagara Falls and his groans audible from two miles away so I put some Tylenol tablets and a decongestant capsule into one hot little fist and a glass of water in the other.

When the moaning did not abate, I began to question him.

“Didn’t the decongestant help at all?”

“I didn’t take it.”

“Why not?”

“Because I didn’t know whether you tried to swallow it whole or opened it and poured the tiny time pills into a glass, or if you tried to swallow them individually.” This is from a mathematical genius who aces math competitions in his sleep!

Then there is the competition for the “sickest person in the family” award. You’d think from the way they fight for this world-class title that there is a monetary prize to go with the glory, but there is none.

“My fever’s higher than yours,” the challenge will go out.

 “No, mine’s l09 degrees.”

“That’s only because you washed the thermometer in hot water.”

“I’m dizzy; you’re not.”

“You were dizzy before you got sick.”

“You’re not as sick as I am. You just act like you are.”

“Mom, he’s making my headache. Make him leave me alone.”

There is only one ray of sunshine in the whole dreary sickroom.

If it is a strain of B-Victoria flu as rumors have suggested, I can’t get it. I had it years ago when I was a child and could drive my own mother mad.

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