Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Swine Flu

When we last left Daniel, he had gotten a "grande" sized cup of straight espresso from the Starbucks that is in Harrah's Casino. He should have known that if he sat the cup next to him and then proceeded to work on a blog post, he would unconsciously keep sipping off the thing, until it was gone and he had consumed enough caffeine to get an elephant's day off to a flying start.

I left the casino about 10 minutes before my food stamp money was to come, at midnight.

After a 15 minute walk from there to Rouses Market, using shortcuts that I had learned when living on the street, I was able to pick up what seemed like just a few things, but which cost 32 bucks.

As I walked, I was aware that I was kind of performing an experiment upon myself with regards to seeing how caffeine "actually" effects me.

Honey, coconut oil, concentrated juices of grape and apple, a gallon of distilled water were soon mine, and I began the 9 block walk to the trolley with the 20 pounds of 32 bucks worth of stuff in my pack.
Live Caffeine Experiment
I started to think that I would probably just live off of the juice for a day, because it almost felt like I was coming down with something. There was an aching in my legs as if I had recently run a sprint, even though I hadn't; and the backpack felt heavier than it should have. Yes, I was going to do a 3 day juice fast to head it off at the pass, should it be the flu I was feeling.

The word is that the flu is "bad" this year, or "serious," depending upon who you talk to.
I had already had a nasty bout of it, six weeks prior, that lasted about 3 days and which caused me to miss out on my planned trip to Howard Westra's house for Thanksgiving.
And, here I was, feeling like I might be coming down with it again.
Was that possible? I thought that, once you have the flu and then get over it, only a new and more virulent strain can infect you.
I got home and had only juice for dinner. I felt like I might be able to shake off whatever it was; or that perhaps it was only a 6 hour flu.
Then, I did something so inexplicable that my spirit, rather than my mind, must have arranged it...

Comfort Food?
My last smile for the next 4 days...
I went to the Family Dollar store, intending to get more juice, to continue the "cleanse."

Outside, sitting atop a trash can, was a ham and cheese po-boy sandwich, still sealed in the airtight cellophane package and bearing a price tag of 5 dollars.

This is where it is customary for New Orleans residents to leave food items that they might not want, but that nothing is wrong with and that would be a shame to let go to waste. Better to leave them to the hungry, broke, homeless and others who spend all their money on alcohol.

It was about 40 degrees outside, and so it was like the thing was in a refrigerator.

I stuffed the thing in my bag and then went inside the store, where I did get some more juice, but also some instant oatmeal of the kind that has a ton of sugar in it and comes in flavors like "maple and brown sugar," and "cinnamon and spice," etc.

I was keeping my options open between starving the flu or feeding it.

The Wrong Choice

It may have been the flu virus attacking my brain stem and making me crazy, but at one point, I decided to feed the fever and I ate the ham and cheese thing, and then had a bunch of the oatmeal for dessert. "This is like comfort food, I guess," I thought.

This was Friday evening. Within a few hours, it was evident that, if I had been coming down with the flu before, I was now free falling with it.

I had a headache in a small area near my right temple which felt like it had been hit with a baseball but just hadn't turned black and blue yet, and another larger headache along the back of my head.
I felt constipated and like I was ready to explode like a seagull that has eaten Alka Seltzer.

My temperature must have been at least 102 degrees because I started having nonsensical thoughts as I lay down and covered myself in my heaviest quilt, after putting my winter jacket on.

Just the thought of the ham and cheese po-boy made me feel nauseous; the same for the sweetened oatmeal. I could picture the flu virus taking to the ham like tiny maggots; and the sugar fermenting and expanding and bloating me.

The sight of the stub of a cigar, which was the only tobacco that I had, made me equally nauseous. At one point, in between falling into fitful sleep, tormented by stupid dreams, that all seemed to involve problems that I could care less about the solution to (in one I was playing tic tac toe against myself ad infinitum) and then waking up drenched in sweat yet shivering; I took the thing and threw it towards my trash can.

I found that I had to lay there and moan or the noise in my head would increase until it sounded like a dozen radio stations playing at once. When I got up to shut off my actual radio that was on; I had to grab a table to keep from falling down.

I called Rose and Ed because the former had told me on more than one occasion that I could consider her "the medicine chest" of our building and to never hesitate to ask her if I needed anything.

She came and gave me some Ibuprofen, some benedryl (sp?) and a pill that was a stool softener.
It was the stool pill that I hoped would work to have me crap out everything I had eaten the night before.

Just running to the bathroom and then returning to my blankets had me shivering for minutes, recovering. I couldn't begin to think of walking to the dollar store for more juice.

Too Sick For Doctor

I had a doctors appointment for 8 AM on Monday. I called and cancelled it about an hour before that, stating that I was too sick to go out to see the doctor.

"Are you sure you don't want to come in and have something prescribed for it?" asked the appointment lady.

I looked out my window to notice that it was then raining pretty moderately. I didn't think that there was an antibiotic for the flu; and could not imagine my doctor prescribing anything much different from what Rose had given me. I could, though, imagine myself catching pneumonia walking through the cold and rain for about 2 miles to the hospital.

"No, I would have to walk, and I wouldn't be there in time; and it's raining..."
She rescheduled me for February 14th.

Rose's medications made me feel just good enough to walk, later in the day, feeling 20 years older, to the store, where I bought Harold some food, and myself some juice, including prune.

With this, I restarted the juice fast that I probably should have stayed on and might have avoided getting the flu on.

I started to think of everything I was cleansing myself of as I gulped down 32 ounces of prune juice: sugar, tobacco, kratom, marijuana, caffeine and the ham and cheese sandwich that I couldn't wait to eliminate.
It seemed like I had been loading myself up with every chemical that I had gotten kind of addicted to, starting with the mega dose of caffeine, in order to make myself feel worse, so I would take definitive action to feel better.

So, I sit here on this Wednesday, the 10th of January not having had a cigarette in 5 days and still feeling nauseous at the thought of one.

"Maybe this happening was a blessing in disguise," said Bobby from building C, who has been trying to help me quit tobacco.

I was thinking the same thing. I had been on a treadmill of sorts, trying to pay for daily cigarettes and kratom.

Sugar was something that I had practically none of from about the age of 19 until just recently. I had been "slipping" there.

And, I can remember having skin problems, even involving the color, or tone, of it; back when I ate the ham and cheese po-boys, right alongside everyone else; before I discovered that the soy oil in the mayonnaise was somehow triggering an allergic reaction in me.

I guess I felt bullet proof when I ate that one I found...

For now the juice fast will continue. When I start to eat again, it will be my old diet.

And I will probably take advantage of the free flu shot offered here at Sacred Heart. I had been too lazy to get one this year....

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