Sunny With a Chance of Swine Flu

By Gina Simmons, Ph.D.

A few days ago my daughter and I were diagnosed with the swine flu also known by the less friendly, H1N1. Symptoms include head ache so bad you can’t lift head off bed, sore throat, post-marathon fatigue (without the runner’s high) and body pain like being run through a rock polishing machine. Despite our best efforts (compulsive hand washing, sunny disposition, good sleep and nutrition) we fell along with a dozen others in my daughter’s theater group. Studies suggest we’re more prone to getting colds and flu after experiencing anger or stress. We skipped anger, but long nights with less sleep definitely put stress on our bodies. No amount of hand sanitizer can safeguard you from an airborne virus in search of a place to land.

One advantage of being bed-ridden-but-conscious is the ability to watch endless hours of movies and television guilt-free. We watched President Obama preside over the memorial for the 13 victims of the Fort Hood shooting. Moving tributes and Veteran’s Day memorials brought our petty battle with the flu into perspective. So many people in our nation and around the world live in fear. With the economic crisis, flu pandemic, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many live with tremendous daily stress. Soldiers and families worry about multiple deployments, financial stresses and the fear of Muslim extremists living among us.

Sometimes fear stokes anger, provoking reckless words and foolish behavior. The talking heads on T.V. should more aptly be called yelling heads. Not wise to listen to yelling heads when you’ve got a thunderous headache. Sometimes when we feel fear the urge to get up and yell or blame someone proves irresistible. During these times it’s important to pause, study the best evidence available, and wait to act. Our actions will prove more effective, our mood will stay more stable, and the outcome will likely be better. If you’ve got the flu, switch to comedy. It’s better for your health.

In times of fear and crisis, it helps to pull loved one’s close. Appreciate simple small things. This morning I relished feeling well enough to bake fresh blueberry scones for my sick child. Her smile made of orange rind, topped with a red nose, warmed my heart. The ability to sit at the computer long enough to write this feels amazing. I appreciate generous women like Sheryl Roush, who accepted my short story in her latest Heart Book Series, The Heart of a Military Woman. Her emails and encouragement sure cheered me up when I felt the worst. Reading uplifting stories like that of Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, contributing editor and Pink Biker Chic inspire me to keep striving to help people reduce anger and feel more peaceful.

Okay. Enough writing. It’s 70 degrees, sunny outside. I’m gonna go lay down now. Be well.