What came first, the cold or the cruise?

So much to write about, but where to start?  Let’s start with the flu shot.  I had a cruise booked from November 12 to 19. Out of Miami, and miraculously none of the four ports we were scheduled to stop at had been decimated by hurricanes, typhoons or other acts of God.  What a lovely thought, kicking off winter going some place warm, but I had to get there first.  That meant exposure, germs, coughing, sneezing, slimey little bacteria lurking to nab an innocent victim.

It was a bit early for the flu shot, but I tracked it down – available at a local clinic.  The clinic was open for seniors and immune compromised individuals.  I spoke to my doctor to get in and get the shot, explaining my travel plans.  Fortunately she agreed with me, I needed the flu shot, my history indicated that I don’t travel well.  Three weeks before my cruise I was in and vaccinated.  Take that, evil germs!

I got the shot on a Friday after work, by that night I was feeling awful.  My shoulder really hurt.  The next morning, full of aches and pains I decided maybe I was one of the unlucky ones to experience a more severe reaction.  Oh, well better the suffering before the cruise than on the cruise.  By the next Monday, I was okay, felt a little under the weather but got through the week.  By the next weekend I felt awful again, body aches and pains, a headache, those normal seasonal things that working in a large office exposes one to.  By the end of the week heading into the cruise I was pumped, felt great.  Ready to go, confident that I had dealt with all the stuff that I now associated with that flu shot.  It was worth it to ensure I was in optimal shape for travelling.

Itinerary:  Friday – drive to Toronto and stay overnight at the airport, Saturday – depart Toronto to Miami where we’d overnight and on Sunday pick up the cruise.  A nice leisurely, stress free, relaxed approach to getting from point A to point B.  Not without risk of germs though, flying has always been the most likely place for me to pick up something.

I was travelling with my sisters – one was healthy, one was germy, also a significant risk for obvious reasons. No fear, I had my flu shot.  I was taking immune boosters, I was going into this trip feeling good, I had this.  Nope.  By Sunday night, the first night of the cruise I started to feel awful. By Tuesday I’d lost my sense of taste and couldn’t breathe.  By Thursday, I had my taste back but had started coughing.  By the time it got to the weekend I was dreaming, or was it hallucinating, about my brass bed and my bathtub. I just wanted to be home.

I always bring some supplies with me when I travel, but nothing touched this.  The ship’s store had no supplies to speak of, and the ports we stopped in had all sorts of available medication – but I didn’t know what I needed.  I had a friend on the same cruise with me.  Thank God!  Not only did she bring stuff, but she brought essential oils to use.  Unfortunately the cough, cold, flu whatever had gripped me too fast but at least I could knock myself out with sinus medication.

So here I sit, at home just writing about this now.  Why, because it didn’t end there.  I managed to go into work the Tuesday after I got back and squeaked out the week.  By last Friday I was in the throes of a high fever, aches and pains, extreme fatigue and nausea.  I decided to stay home Monday and heal, nope got worse.  Yesterday I visit the doctor.  A miracle really, because her office was actually closed, she was doing paperwork, but they squeezed a few people in, and I was one of the lucky ones.  The result – “No point in swabbing you now,” says the doctor, “You’ve had this for a bit.  It sounds like the flu, it’s here in the community, but something else is going on there.  Sinus infection.  And to be safe let’s get a chest X-ray while you’re here.  Yes, you’re contagious until the fever goes away and the cough stops.  Bed rest, I’ll call you when I get the x-ray back.”

Today, she called me about the x-ray.  Pneumonia.  Why not?

Invisible Attack

I left for my vacation healthy as can be.  The week leading up to my flight I was supplementing with Vitamin C and taking Reishi drops in water.  All designed to protect the immune system and send me off on my trip in tip top form.  When I had packed for the trip I made the conscious decision not to take along all my supplements with me. I packed my usual ‘pill’ form supplements, but I didn’t pack any liquid ones.  I rationalized that I was in good shape, so likely could fend off anything that came my way.  I didn’t take the liquid Reishi — mistake.

When I boarded the plane on Tuesday I sat beside a man who was suffering, as he said, “from a dry throat.  Don’t worry, it’s just that I’m dry.”  He coughed for the entire three and a half hour flight.  Behind me there was a guy who had a persistent cough, but it sounded more like a smoker’s hack, and across from me one seat up, was a man who was busy blowing his nose, sneezing and generally looking feverish.  By a half hour into the flight I was completely neurotic – no doubt in my mind, nothing could stand up to these germs.  I started breathing through my tee-shirt, pulling it up over my nose to filter the air.  This position, however, is not sustainable for any length of time.

We landed in Miami and headed to our hotel.  I pumped some water, and mentally kicked myself for not bringing my Reishi drops – they work, at least for me they do.  I still felt okay, but knew that I had been subjected to a germ attack on the plane; I really needed to bolster my defenses.  The next morning I felt okay, but kept pumping lemon water to get my Vitamin C intake up.  A day later we boarded the ship – still doing okay, not sick yet.  One of the first activities once aboard is the muster drill – mandatory attendance – what to do in the event of an emergency.  Our station was in the library.  What luck, we got to sit with a woman who was in full blown head cold mode.  She hacked and sneezed and wheezed and blew.  She was considerate though, she didn’t sit with her friends, she didn’t want to make them sick, she sat with me and my sister.

It was inevitable by this stage.  I could almost hear my body groan with defeat.  The next morning I woke up with a very sore throat, stuffy nose and a bad attitude.  The exposure was just too much, and I didn’t have my Reishi!  I spent the next three days blowing my nose, snitching packets of honey and making lemon and honey hot drinks.

So it could have been the germs (highly likely), it could have been the fact that I finally relaxed (been stressed out for many, many months), it could have been that I did not get the flu shot this year,  it likely was a combination of the three.  All I know is that from the time Kevin got ill, until the day before I boarded the plane, I have been diligent in taking my supplements.  During that time I did not have a head cold or the flu, nothing.  Of course, while Kevin was alive I didn’t have the option, his immune system was completely compromised; germs were the enemy.   We took lots of supplements then.  I could never match his pill intake, it was enormous: painkillers, antacids, vitamins, blood thinners – it was crazy.  The vitamins and supplements that he took I took, and I never was sick during the whole eight months he was battling cancer.   During his illness I disinfected the house, the car, anything he came into contact with, constantly.  I screened visitors and some I turned away.  Those that entered, well, I still have at least a year’s worth of hand sanitizer in my cupboard.  It worked, for what it’s worth; neither he nor I came down with a cold or the flu.

Here I am back from the cruise, still coughing and sneezing.  I’ve started back on my Reishi and back on my alkaline drink in the morning.  My new twist is the hot toddy.  Ummm – it’s the only good thing about having a cold.