Drinking to my (un)health

When the doctor saw me two days ago, my fever had hit an all time high and she told me I had developed bronchitis. I looked at her puzzled because I didn’t think it was physically possible to develop bronchitis within two days of feeling bad. But who was I to argue with her frown and the stethoscope? The last bit of advice she imparted was from to get plenty of rest, keep up the fluids and drink juice to boost vitamin C. I wasn’t training for the Olympics so I had enough time to rest. I could keep up the fluids by drinking juice which has to taste better than water. Things were already beginning to look up!

Drinking juice is no hardship because I happen to love juice. The more berries in my juice the better. I just won’t drink orange juice because oranges make me cough and I’m not fond of citrus fruits anyway. You won’t believe the number of juices they have in supermarkets these days. I was about to pick an apple and black current juice, then I remembered how she had said something about vitamin C. So, I spent the next 5 minutes looking at the ingredient component at the back of juice bottles and comparing between them. Someone old had been standing behind me all these while impatiently, but I hadn’t notice her because I was determined to pick the best juice. Also, my ears were blocked and if she had said, “excuse me,” I wouldn’t have heard her either. So, I’m sorry if that old lady happened to be you, your mum or grandma. I would have apologised but your scowl was certainly quite disarming.

I settled for a 2.4L breakfast juice which contained all sorts of fancy fruits and the more boring ones. This one even said it had antioxidants which are suppose to be good for everyone. I figured I might as well give all the other vitamin levels in my body a boost instead of just C. Drinking one serve of juice was supposed to give me ~200% RDI vitamin C. Wow! Then I stupidly did the math and figured that drinking five cups would boost my C levels by 1000%. How awesome would that be? I’d feel so much better in less than the time it would take to complete my antibiotics course. So, I happily drank all five cups – got to keep myself hydrated after all!

The first sign that something had gone pear shaped was when my stomach started producing rumbling noises followed by growling noises. There was that much warning before my body revolted against the five cups of healthiness. It clearly wasn’t used to so much fruity goodness within a space of three hours. I spent the whole night sleepless and coughing – excessive sugar and the total amount was probably more than a sweet-toothed individual like me would have consumed at peak condition. So, here are some important lessons that I learnt from this slightly amusing (not at that point in time) experience: (1) Drinking in moderation applies not only to alcohol; and (2) do not try doing mathematical calculations when feverish – things will not work out well (e.g. 1000% RDI vitamin C does not equate to you feeling 100% better). So, now I’m waiting for the antibiotics to kick in and work their magic.

The offending culprit is on the far left

Why flu shots do not impart invincibility

Every Winter there are people who faithfully line up to get their flu shots. These visits are announced well ahead of schedule to encourage mass vaccination. However, because I don’t deal well with sharp pointy objects – especially when they are aimed at me – and also don’t believe in the success of this program, I avoid it. It is not to say that these vaccination measures are redundant. They are pretty useful if there is only one specific type of bug. In reality, that one bug loves to throw a good party and invites all its mates over for a bash. Not only that, those bugs are also pretty friendly with just about anyone really, and they tend to overstay their welcome.

Anyway, whenever my colleagues tried to persuade me to get the flu shot, I let them know how much I believe in “herd immunity”. Yes, that is an actual immunology term and not something that I made up. Yes, I know I had those two words in inverted commas. I would try changing them, but it is rather hard to do on the iPad…my fingers can’t tap in front of them. “They give out sweets like Freddo at the end”, cajoled one friend in a bid to appeal to my penchant for sweet things. Sorry, but not even Koko black chocolate is going to cut the mustard. So the rest of the lab trooped to get their shots and I made off to buy a snack – a delicious one that was pain-free.

They came back convinced that they now were immune to the cold/flu. I say cold/flu because there are some sticklers out there who insist it is a cold or a flu. It was ironic then that they were the first to succumb to the bug(s). How could it be? They were bewildered. It did not seem fair that I was still healthy and eating cookies to my heart’s content. They couldn’t even ask for a refund because the shot was free. It was a grave injustice as far as they were concern. Did I laugh in their faces? No, I didn’t, because laughing at someone’s misfortune is ungracious and not something that I do. Blogging about them on the other hand is perfectly acceptable. Deep down, I felt a twinge of panic. This year’s herd seemed to have dwindled, I swear I didn’t spread my belief of herd immunity that far!

My worry only increased when I travelled on the metro trains. It literally is a vehicle for bugs as commuters coughed, sneezed and spread the love. They couldn’t help it of course, but that did not lessen my desire for teleportation to be achievable within the next few seconds. After a few weeks, the inevitable happened. I got bounced by the cold/flu. In between feeling downright sick and exhibiting all symptoms that screamed for healthy people to take cover, I experienced incoherent unkind thoughts. These included: (1) who was the one who passed it to me, (2) how I was going to carve out their spleen using only a spoon, and importantly (3) how could I get better faster and then repeat (2) with the modification of another body part. As well as that, I raged at the fact that I had to watch everyone else eat ice cream whilst consigned to a plain diet. I am well aware that these thoughts border on being neurotic and murderous, but in my defense I was kind of taking every medication over the counter to quench the symptoms. You name it, I most likely have digested it. From this experience, it can hardly be lost on anyone that I make a terrible patient look positively angelic. Usually, I like to think of myself as a pretty amiable and happy person.

So thank you to those of you who very kindly put up with me and tried to make me feel better with warm tea and turning up the heaters until it felt tropical instead of Winter. I have not changed my mind about flu shots, and next year you will still see me heading out for a pain-free hot chocolate shot!