Friday, January 30, 2015

flu

It's been a week of no walks. Early this week, the flu took over our lives. I did manage a short 2-block walk to CVS to get aspirin and more tissues on Wednesday morning, but haven't seen the sidewalk since then. This morning I discovered a package that has been sitting just outside our apartment door, for 2 days, apparently. The calendar says today is Friday.

Certainly we've had communication with the greater world around us, alerting the office that we're not fit for human contact, calling my sister on her birthday, reading a few news headlines before heading back to bed, but altogether, it's been a surreal week. Everything pretty much stops, except fever dreams and coughing.

Coming down with flu made me realize just how lucky we are. We had each other; someone to wield the cold, wet wash cloth when needed. We had aspirin. We had just gone grocery shopping, so had lots of fruit and some wonderful bread from Sub Rosa, and a tub of soup I froze awhile ago. That's about all we felt like eating. We had a warm, safe, quiet bed to rest in. We had clean water to drink.

Clean water. It's such a basic necessity when you are sick. I dreamt about water a lot this week.

In 1918, when The Great Pandemic hit the world, clean water wasn't so prevalent. If you were a working stiff, living in a big city, you probably lived in a tenement flat with no running water . There may have been water in the building, but it was likely a shared tap down the hall. If you lived in a rural area, you might be lucky enough to have a clean well, but you might have had to boil water from a stream for your water. That's pretty tough to do when you're sick, assuming you had the energy to get the wood from the pile (if you had one) and stoke up the stove.

Nourishment was also a big issue.  Most people in those times didn't have the luxury of going to the grocery store and doing a week's worth of stocking up. Those in rural areas might have had an advantage with some provisions put up, but the sick city dweller often had no kitchen and no money to buy more than a day's worth of food at a time. And let's not forget that GE did not introduce the electric refrigerator until 1927. While we didn't eat much this past week, we had plenty of good, unspoiled food to keep us going.

It's no wonder so many people died. We, on the other hand, only lost a week of work.