I didn’t know whether it was a bug I picked up, or something I ate, but I spent several days last week being violently ill. Just getting out of bed drained all my energy, the very thought of food made me sick to my stomach, and I couldn’t even read without getting a headache. One of the things that kept going through my mind – besides how achy and uncomfortable I was – was what a waste of time this was. It was bad enough that I had to miss several days’ worth of activities and appointments, but I couldn’t even nestle under the covers and catch up on my reading.

Once I recovered, I started hearing from others who have been sick over the last week or two, so I’m assuming it was the flu, and not my own cooking, that did me in. Still, it caught me off-guard, since I get a flu shot every year, and I rarely get sick, other than catching a cold every few years or so.

Now that I’m fully recovered, I can look back and recognize some cautions to pay attention to and some lessons to be learned from being so sick. I even see a few things to be grateful for – such as the timing. Since I have a trip coming up that’s going to involve a lot of walking at a higher-than-I-am-used-to elevation, being sick last week meant I still had plenty of time to regain my strength and get in shape for the trip. Also, the day I got sick was the same day as the big snowstorm we had last week. The weather caused a few meetings and appointments to be canceled or postponed, saving me the trouble of changing them because I was sick. And I didn’t need to feel guilty or ambivalent about staying inside instead of venturing out to my appointed rounds. Between the weather and my health, there was no question.

As for lessons to be learned, these had to do with more long-term issues. Getting sick, especially with something like the flu, a cold, or another temporary condition, reminds me of the importance of taking care of myself – something I always know, but often slip up on or take for granted. So I’m focusing anew on good nutrition, paying attention to both the quality and quantity of the foods I eat. I am making sure to drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated. I’m easing back into my exercise routine, which I totally abandoned during the days I was sick and for a few more days after that. And in spite of having some extra work to catch up on, I’m getting to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep every night – not counting staying up to watch the post-Super Bowl interviews last Sunday.

So as long as I stick with the plan – and I intend to – I should soon be feeling even better and stronger than I was before. If you’re one of the many others who have been sick this winter, with the flu or anything else, I hope the same goes for you.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on February 11, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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