Friday, March 3, 2017

Coping With the Flu

I was going to go to Williamsburg, Virginia, to race the William & Mary Tidewater Classic (last year's race report here) this weekend, but instead I decided to get the flu.
Check out my stash. Anyone in Big Pharma want to sponsor me?
I had the flu at the end of November, too. Both times, the illness coincided with being in Canada or around Canadian relatives. Those Canadian germs must be really tough! Polite, but tough!
Canadian germs, like the Mounted Police, are tough but polite.
But this post isn't just a forum for me to whine (I subjected you guys to enough whining in the Monster Cross Race Report)--I also want to be helpful! So here is my brief rundown of all the drugs I have taken, and how effective they've been. Please note, however, that this post in no way constitutes medical advice. If you're sick, go to the doctor. If you're interested in my pain and down for a laugh, read on.

For reference, my worst symptom with this year's flu (both times I've had it) is body aches all over. My muscles and joints are so sore that I can barely get out of bed. It hurts to eat, swallow, poop, urinate, and breathe. I also have a sore throat and sinus congestion and headache, but the all-over hurting is really the worst part. Without further ado, here are the things I've tried:

Nyquil (not pictured)
I only got half a dose of Nyquil because Emily had taken it all last week (she'll get me some more tonight). It did a good job of relieving the body aches enough that I could fall asleep. Unfortunately, it stopped working after 4 hours, at which point I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep because everything hurt.

If you've never used Salonpas, they're pain-relief patches that stick on the skin and work like icy hot. These were surprisingly effective, but they didn't cover enough territory. They are advertised to last for 8 hours, but mine stopped working closer to 6 hours in.

Tylenol PM
This is what I took after the Nyquil wore off (since we didn't have any more). I know from experience, having slept through work once, that the sedative part is powerful, so I only took one. But the pain relief part wasn't strong enough to keep me asleep, so I dozed fitfully after taking it.

Really helped with the nasal congestion and sinus headache, but not the all-over body aches. It's the thing that has cleared my head enough to be to write this, though.

I think this is what helped my sore throat and headache more than anything. It helped the body aches some, but not enough on its own to get rid of them.

Alka Seltzer Cold Plus
This is one of my favorites, because it addressed all the symptoms I was having and was fact-acting. However, it wears off fast (less than 4 hours), and you're only supposed to take 2 doses every 24 hours.

Vicks Vapo-rub
Smells nice, and helps a little with the congestion. Emily put it on her feet and then put socks on to stop her coughing (which actually worked, to my surprise), but it hasn't done much for me.

No idea whether or not this stuff is helping. I seem to feel a little better after I take it, but that's probably a placebo effect. It's reasonably well-studied, but I'm pretty sure I have the flu and not a common cold, so I'm not sure I'm the target market right now.

China Gel/Biofreeze
This is the stuff that's been a life-saver for me. It does the same thing as Salonpas, but I can rub it all over my arms, legs, neck, chest, ribs, and back. It's surprisingly long-lasting, too; I put some on about an hour ago, and I'm pretty sure it's the only reason I'm able to sit upright and type right now. The China Gel and Biofreeze have similar mechanisms, but I don't think the Biofreeze works quite as well. I prefer the consistency of the China Gel, anyway. The Biofreeze is cheaper though, by a good amount (China Gel $3.74/ounce, Biofreeze $2.63/ounce).

My plan is to get a flu shot as soon as they start giving them out next year. I've never prioritized flu shots, but holy cow! I never want to feel like this again. From now on, I will always get a flu shot. And if you're unlucky enough to get this particular strain of Canadian influenza (Canadianfluenza, if you will),  Dayquil, ibuprofen, and China Gel is what's helping me survive until the virus runs its course.

No racing for me this weekend. Those of you who are racing, keep the rubber side down!

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