Survival photo

The drive to fish and chase wild game runs deep in some men, but I’ve recently discovered something that all but extinguishes it. I refer to the flu. They must have missed the boat on the vaccine this year. Because despite having gotten the shot, I’ve spent the past five days prone, hurting all over, and exhausted by the simple task of getting to the bathroom and back in bed.

Until just five days ago, I’d been putting out corn in the backyard. We still need at least one more deer for the freezer. But putting out corn would involve a journey of nearly 70 yards. At the moment, such a feat makes the Shackleton Expedition look like a stroll to the mailbox. Which is another thing I haven’t even considered.

If you haven’t experienced the flu in a while, you forget how completely it takes over your life. When you have the flu, that’s pretty much all you can do. It’s a full-time job. My body temperature, for example, jumps around from 97.1 to 101.5 on a schedule known only to itself. Right now, it’s 101.3. And yet I’m freezing and occasionally racked by chills. (Useful tip: Since uncontrollable chills can strike at any moment, flu sufferers are advised to pee sitting down.) My skull feels like it’s in a tennis-racket press—the old wooden kind with screws at the corners. Meanwhile, a bunch of elves have set up a blacksmith shop behind my eyeballs. I don’t know what they’re making, but they’re pounding their anvils enthusiastically. Also, an invisible plumber is snaking my sinuses with barbed wire. I’m convinced he’s getting paid by the hour because he’s taking his time. And sometime last night while I was unconscious I must have been thrown down a flight of stairs because there’s no part of me that doesn’t ache. Actually, that’s not quite true. While my tongue has lost its ability to taste—you could give me tea made of old socks and I’d drink it happily—at least it doesn’t hurt.

Michelle has been feeding me soup and various herbal teas. She assures me that I will feel better in a day or two. Maybe. But for a fully present experience, the flu is tough to beat. You are wholly in the moment whether you like it or not. And the moment feels eternal. And right now those deer can feed their own damn selves. Because I’m a busy man. I have the flu.