Marriage is all about co-operation, listening and sharing. And my wife has devotedly taken the last of these points to the limits by sharing her flu with me. But of course, because she is a woman, she got over her outbreak of flu relatively quickly. And I, of course because I am a man, spent the best part of a week tucked away in bed shaking like a leaf in the bura.
Yes, it comes around every year, just as St. Blaise or Christmas, the flu season in Dubrovnik and seemingly every year it runs me over like a train. To be honest I thought I had avoided it this year. The early signs were positive. Whilst people close to me were being knocked down with the virus I was left standing. But just as I was cheering “this could be my year” it grabbed me with both hands and slowly strangled me. Like a silent ninja it crept up on me. I had eaten tones of oranges to build up my vitamin C defence but it was all swept aside.
Day one and I felt an aching feeling in my bones and a slight headache. I brushed it aside as just being a little tired. Day two and it had me in its grasp. Temperature soaring, head like a balloon and a headache that made me wish I didn’t have a head. “Did you measure your temperature?” my wife asked in the morning on seeing my bloodshot eyes and sweating forehead. Of course I hadn’t. we used to have one of those electronic thermometers but my wife is old school so she had gone back to the old mercury based ones. I could feel the mercury almost boiling in the glass as the temperature rose higher and higher. “39.8,” she screamed as I handed her the thermometer.
I am pretty sure that this was a new record high temperature for me. Well official record. Because when I was a child and didn’t want to go to school, probably due to some test, I would slip the thermometer into the morning cup of tea and have temperatures well over 40. But this was probably the highest official one to my memory. But my temperature didn’t get the official stamp of approval until my wife had pressed her lips up against my forehead and then shook her head in dismay. It seems that Croatian women have this special “Superhero” power in their lips. They all seem to be born with a thermometer embedded into their lips. And so I was off to bed.
It was also the longest I have ever spent in a horizontal position. I have to be honest and say that the first day in bed was enjoyable. Even though I was bathing in a pool of my own sweat and my head felt like I had an elephant sitting on it the cocktail of drugs and tablets I was swallowing numbed the pain enough for me to relatively enjoy the peace and warmth of my bed. This initial euphoria soon passed.
The following day and no sign of my temperature dropping. In fact, I awoke like I had been sleeping in a swimming pool. My pillow was completely soaked and resembled a tea bag that had been left in a cup for a few hours. And now the word was out that I was sick and the messages started arriving. “Drink as much as possible,” and “Sweat it out” and of course “If you have a headache soak a tea towel in rakija and wrap it around your head.” We all know that if you are sick, whatever the diagnosis, a few drops of rakija will get you back on your feet.
All I had to do was drink litres of soup and watch daytime TV which seemed to be a mixture of terrible soap operas and endless adverts mattresses. I am not what was more painful – my flu or watching these mind-numbing adverts. My temperature wasn’t dropping. And now I had a new problem, backache. Lying endlessly had given me the back of a 90-year-old man. Whichever way I turned the pain followed me. And of course when I got up to walk around and left the warm hug of my bed the cold hit me so hard that I started shaking like a vibrating mobile phone.
“If this goes on much longer then you should go to the hospital,” added my wife. No, not the H word! If there is one thing I hate more than the flu its hospitals. And it seemed that my flu germs had heard my wife. The next day my temperature dropped like a pebble in the Adriatic. Goodbye flu, see you again next year, same time, same place.