It’s officially cold and flu season, suckas. Throughout my 20’s, I used to make it through each winter untouched by whatever plague that was going around, thanks to a freakishly strong immune system (or my bloodstream was too diluted with PBR to be a hospitable environment to viruses). However, at some point the tides turned and whatever human firewall I had that kept the germs at bay quit on me, and I started getting sick just like normal people.
A couple of years ago I caught whooping cough, which was really surprising because I had no idea that I was a 19th century British orphan. I woke up one day feeling a little achy and sluggish, but tried not to think about it because I had to catch a plane to San Diego for a business trip. As the week went on, I started feeling progressively worse and developed a cough that kept me awake all night. Thinking that it was just a really bad cold, I dosed myself with Dayquil and toughed out the week. I visited the doctor when I got back home, who tested me for pertussis, a.k.a. whooping cough “just in case.” To both of our surprise, I tested positive. To the dismay of the Center of Disease Control, I had exposed a full airplane load of people to my communicable illness. I received a series of phone calls from the CDC for my flight and seat number so they could warn my seat mates to get tested, making me feel like the first person to die in a zombie movie. Not only that, near the end of my trip I had convinced myself I was feeling better (this was before my diagnosis when I still thought it was just a cold) so I visited the San Diego Zoo. If I got a panda sick I couldn’t live with myself. Oh, and those 700+ people at the conference to whom I personally handed registration materials–whoops.
Thankfully, no one else that I knew of caught my totally retro illness and the CDC decided I wasn’t contagious anymore, reversing their original request for me to wear a medical mask on my next work trip to Seattle the following weekend. I breathed a (congested) sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to travel looking like a Michael Jackson impersonator or a socially conscious Harajuku girl. However, it did make me realize that us human beings are pretty much just walking bags of bacteria, spreading our nasty germs to each other via elevator buttons, hotel remotes, or that bowl of mints that you are NEVER SUPPOSED TO EAT FROM, GAH-ROSS!!! And from now on, I will always get my flu shot.