A Cold in the Time of Swine Flu

3 Oct

Sick Sick Sick by delinion.
Photo by delinion

I started feeling sick late Sunday afternoon, and since my body was obviously exhausted and I’d just spent the night walking around in the cold by the waterfront, I knew that I was about to be getting sick. Sometimes you can just feel it in your throat, and you know that you’re going downhill. But I was hoping it would just be a day or two thing. It has not been a day or two thing, and I’ve been suffering all week.

There’s been a little of every symptom on this one. Sore throat, fever, aches, cough, sneezing, runny nose, etc. It’s kind of like buffet for illnesses. Each symptom not really lasting for too long at each interval, but making its presence felt when it’s there. Normally, this wouldn’t be the most alarming thing. It’s now spring in Argentina, but winter is refusing to go quietly, and the last couple of weeks have been very cold. I knew I was arriving at the end of winter, so I purposely didn’t try to over-pack my bags with a big winter jacket. It’s one of those mistakes that you know you shouldn’t have made, but also have the foresight to know that it was a right decision in the end.

It’s just a cold, and I know that, and at worst would be a seasonal flu. But living in Argentina, those thoughts that hey, maybe it’s Swine Flu after all, well they do sort of creep in there and mess with you. It doesn’t make matters any better when other people have fear in their eyes every time you sneeze or cough. Standing on a street corner, a sneeze will now produce the same suspicious stares and turned heads that farting in public does. You’re a leper, and you need to just stay away from everyone for about a week if you feel sick.

Argentina has had some of the worst of Swine Flu, and the paranoia level is pretty high. Although my friends in Ecuador have told me that if you exhibit any symptoms of a flu at all you can’t even get medicine at a pharmacy until you go to a clinic outside of the city first to make sure it’s not Swine Flu. I think that’s a bit too far, refusing to let people get medicine which would actually make them better. Go figure.

In an email to my parents that I was sick, their first response was that I might have Swine Flu. Apparently throughout 23 years of my life I never before had gotten sick, and now that I’ve arrived in Buenos Aires I must have gotten it. But even before that I wanted to make sure. I work next to a pregnant woman, and the last thing I would want to do is spread something. So I looked up the symptoms and decided that I wasn’t falling under them. PHEW!

But my friend back home sent me a link to a Boston.com article detailing the differences between the common cold and the flu. He thought it was funny that people couldn’t tell the difference on their own, whereas I thought that it was at least reassuring to have that information out there. I guess that’s the difference between someone who’s sick and someone who isn’t.

It’s nice to have the reassurance that you don’t have Swine Flu, even if you might seem ridiculous for looking up symptoms to the common cold just to make yourself feel better. The week has progressed and though I’m still sick, I’m feeling better. So I guess it wasn’t Swine Flu after all.


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