"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy" – Me, emerging from my bed after being struck down with flu for four days.
It was Friday afternoon, I'd a fresh blowdry, my fake tan applied, and I had a hot Tinder date with an Australian guy who worked for a cool tech company in Dublin.
He wanted to explore the city, and I wanted a visa to Oz... kidding, I wanted to show him the sights.
We met for a low-key coffee in the city centre to keep it casj. He pretended to get my jokes – he later told me he grew up without a television because his parents were strict so I knew for sure he didn't get any of my Simpsons or Family Guy references. He was never gonna get the Father Ted 'Careful now' nudge when he almost knocked over our mugs.
But he was polite enough to feign interest when I talked about my favourite music – another essential in my life which he didn't have the luxury of growing up with.
We stayed long enough to drink two coffees and share a brownie, and he walked me to a taxi. He sneaked a short kiss and I told him I'd text him the following day.
But the following day never arrived. Instead I was rudely awakened at 4am with what can only be described as a Texas Chainsaw Massacre in my throat. I leapt from the bed, crawling around the room to find the light switch, to see if Leatherface was actually in the room with me slicing me up. When I saw that he wasn't, I made my way downstairs to drink a glass of water. A thousand knives.
I waddled to the bathroom – still half asleep – to see if I had anything in my medicine cabinet that could help.
Savlon, Sudocrem, tampons, everything except throat spray. I found paracetamol, and forced two of them down my aching throat. Five thousand knives.
I stumbled back to bed, but I couldn't sleep. How could I, with a butcher carving my insides like a slab of beef?
I'm not sure if I was delirious at this stage, but when I say I genuinely didn't know if I was going to make it to see daylight or not, I'm not kidding. I had survived dry socket post wisdom-tooth extraction, and had thought that was the worst pain I could ever experience. But this was so much worse.
Over the next five hours, the sharp pains in my throat increased – 10,000 knives – and my head and ears also began to ache. My eyes puffed up so much I could barely see out of them, and over the next couple of hours, my nose began to run, but was blocked at the same time. How is that possible?
I texted my mother: 'I'm dying. Can you go the chemist for me?'
'What's the chemist going to have for a hangover?'
"I'm not hungover. I've flu.'
'I can't. Ask your sister.'
DOES SHE NOT REALISE MY THROAT IS POSSESSED LIKE REGAN IN THE EXORCIST?
With no help and losing the will to live, I peeled myself off my sheets and made my way to the chemist.
"Throat spray for a severely sore throat and anything else you can get over-the-counter for the flu," I wheezed at the pharmacist.
"Is it for yourself?"
"Yes..." (No, I just look, sound and smell like this for a laugh).
"Okay we have ..." and he went on to name check five different brands I couldn't have cared less about – I just wanted something to take the pain away. Why doesn't he realise how much pain I'm in? 20,000 knives.
"I'll have that one."
"Okay, we have it in a spray or a mouthwash..."
"Whichever is strongest."
"Okay, have you used this before?"
"Sure... And I want painkillers."
I crawl back home with my bag of drugs and take the recommended amount. I get back into bed, and the fun really begins to start.
I'm not quite sure what time of the day it was, or even month or year, but I was sweating profusely, and then freezing all in what felt like the same minute. I pushed the blankets off, and pulled them back on again with what little strength I had.
I thought my mother came in to check on me at one stage, but who knows? I also thought Gary Barlow and the rest of Take That were trying to take over the world with a giant blimp. I remember seeing lots of tiny black and white dots – were these the stars behind the blimp, or was I now going blind as well?
I had a sea of used tissues beside the bed, full of mucus from my nose, throat and God only knows where else.
When my phone vibrated I thought the entire room was closing in on me and I tried in vain to shield myself with my arms so the walls wouldn't touch me.
Somewhere around day two I managed to locate my phone. I had a text from the Aussie hoping to arrange a second date. I'd be lying if I said I didn't google 'Can you catch an STI from one kiss?'
I replied: 'I'm very sick. Dying, in fact. I won't be out for days. Weeks, maybe months.'
'Oh no, you poor thing. Hope you didn't catch what I had...'
'You had something?'
'Yeah I had flu two weeks ago! The night I met you was my first night out of the apartment in days!'
'You never mentioned that.'
'Yeah! I was very sick. It started with a reeeeaaaalllly sore throat.'
I spoke to no one else for days, apart from my hallucinations. The shakes, the sore throat – it peaked at 30,000 knives – the runny nose, the suffocation, the fever, lasted four days in total.
When I finally emerged from my bed on day four, I resembled someone who had been sleeping in a bin for a week. My hair was matted to my head, my nose flaky from all the blowing, and my lips chapped. "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," I told my mother.
That was two years ago, and I've vowed to never, ever, EVER, catch the flu again.
With flu season lasting from October right up until April, I book in for the flu vaccine every year. I look after my health more than ever during cold and flu season – making sure I am eating right and taking the correct vitamins. And I make sure to keep a fresh stock of preventative cold and flu medicines in my cabinet at all times – just in case.
I never met up with the Aussie again. Shame, I hear you can't catch the same virus twice...
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