Roy Exum: The Flu Can Get Worse

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I’ve always been a big believer in playing the percentages. If I can find a way to get a legitimate edge, or just a little nudge in this process we call life, I’ll always take “the blessing” rather than “the curse.” Back in November, knowing full and well a flu shot is only effective 65 percent of the time, I happily got inoculated and said a prayer as I did it. So imagine my surprise on Sunday morning – around 4 a.m. – I realized that just like millions of Americans I have a dandy case of the flu.

Because I’ve always tried to never be “just ordinary,”  I’ve got to tell you that in early December a loathsome blood disease called osteomyelitis came back into my life, requiring a couple of surgeries.

Further, a synovial cyst on my spinal cord, which was removed last February, has come back a little larger than it was so I’m the last guy on earth who needs fever and chills, aching joints, and a bad attitude.

Just as I thought it can’t get any worse, a perfect storm of circumstances just inducted me into the Pitiful Hall of Fame and in the event of going through the most unwelcome throes of our nation’s flu epidemic, let me assure you anything under the sun can always get worse. Right now I feel like a modern-day Job and, while I realize no one of earth wants to hear about another man’s misery, take great comfort if you have never been “stove up.”

When my osteomyelitis unexpectedly reared its head in early December, the doctors operated a couple of times to remove the infection but then comes a lengthy course of powerful antibiotics that make you feel miserable. These medicines are real strong, so strong they kill both the good bacteria and the bad bacteria in your body. In order to cope, you eat two different kinds of yogurt every day in an attempt to keep everything “regular.” There is nothing fun about it.

At the same time, my sciatica – this terrible condition where a main nerve from your spine to your leg gets pinched – was getting worse and we have been waiting on MRIs, getting through the holidays and the promise of the New Year to address it. Two weeks ago, for some unexplainable reason, the nerve problem got measurably worse. The only relief comes from Hydrocodone drugs and, as detestable as they may well be, I find I have no choice in fighting the constant pain.

Last week I underwent an epidural injection for relief, which didn’t work as well as we had hoped it would, yet between the narcotics, the antibiotics, and all else going on, maybe it was my new case of flu that tilted my internal scales. All I know is that my insides abruptly quit working. This past weekend I looked for everything I could find to fix my newest siege - Metamucil, Milk of Magnesia, copious Gator-Aid, gallons of yogurt – you name it.

Prayer? Are you kidding me; I was begging like I would for the No. 3 horse in the fifth race. Nothing worked. So when the cramps and pain got bad enough about 3:30 on Monday morning, I went to Erlanger’s Emergency Room and cried, “Uncle.” I’ve had a lot of things happen, both good and bad, but being “stove up” might take the cake.

We went from X-rays, pain medicine, MRIs, and bags of fluid while – all the while – I was sweating and chilling with the flu. It was so bad that when one nurse said they wanted to catheterize me I wondered what had we been waiting on. Finally, towards the end of the afternoon, I felt something pop inside and got to the toilet a half-second before the Aswan Dam broke free.

I want to call it the worst day I ever spent, but I set some national records about six years ago. This came close. The whole experience was awful. I got past any modesty problems years ago and I am now way too smart to let my pride get in the way of asking for help. But this is to verify that if you think your flu is bad, and you are tiring of the chicken soup, things can always get a little worse.

I’m of the thought that the secret to treating the flu is to force down liquids. Don’t dare get dehydrated. Try to stay home rather than share your new curse with those you love, and constantly wash your hands using warm water and soap. If you are taking antibiotics, yogurt is your friend and “good bacteria” has a better chance if you’ll eat one brand in the morning and a different one in the afternoon.

Above all, take any steps you can imagine to keep your insides happy – being clogged up is a whole lot worse than the flu.

royexum@aol.com


Roy Exum: A Very Silly Apology

It didn’t get a lot of attention, as well it should not have, but when I heard Japanese giant Mitsubishi was offered an apology for heinous war crimes that took place during World War II, I thought it was an ill-conceived publicity stunt. But, no, in a solemn ceremony last month hosted by the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, that is exactly what ... (click for more)

How To Be #ChattanoogaStrong

Chattanooga is my home; I was born here 35 years ago. Without a doubt, this has been one of the most challenging times in our city's history. The #ChattanoogaStrong hashtag will remain for quite some time, but it means so much more than 18 characters on social media. It represents the sorrow and mourning, as well as the resilience and compassion, of our exceptional community.  ... (click for more)

Truck Driver Who Caused Wreck That Killed 6 People At Ooltewah Indicted On 13 Charges; Report Says He Drove Excessive Hours

The Chattanooga Police Department has issued a capias for the arrest of Benjamin Brewer, 39, concerning the multiple fatality traffic crash that occurred on I-75 northbound on June 25. Brewer was indicted on Monday on 13 counts.  They include six counts of vehicular homicide by impairment, a B-felony; four counts for reckless aggravated assault, a D-felony; one count for DUI ... (click for more)

Rawls Says Schools Could Have Better Spent $16,000 Than For Motivational Speech; County To Explore Performance Guaranteed Utility Contract

Bradley County Commissioner Dan Rawls said three school systems could have better spent $16,000 than for a motivational speaker to fire teachers up at the start of a new school year. He said the payment to Ron Clark, former National Teacher of the Year and the founder of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, could have gone for school supplies and other needs. Bradley County ... (click for more)

NPSL Championship To Be Played In Chattanooga

It's Chattanooga FC taking on the New York Cosmos B for the National Premier Soccer League’s national championship and the Scenic City's Finley Stadium is the site Saturday, August 8 at 7:30 p.m. Thanks to a 9,000 plus crowd at Chattanooga's 3-0 semifinal win against the Indiana Fire, the Tennessee team broke the league’s previous record of 8,878, which was ... (click for more)

Jones Press Conference Kicks Off Vols' Preseason

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Coach Butch Jones held his preseason football press conference on Monday at Neyland Stadium. Jones heads into his third season with visible enthusiasm after the Vols finished off the 2014 season with an impressive win over Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl, following that up with another nationally ranked recruiting class. "In terms of our football team, we ... (click for more)