Whinge and Whine

By Shamus Posted Sunday Oct 14, 2012

Filed under: Personal 81 comments


On the upside, I lived, and will be able to continue to write on my blog. The downside is that I was incredibly sick and mere survival seems like a piss poor trade. I mean, I got my life. Big deal. I had that before I got sick.

That’s the thing with illnesses. There’s no justice. If you get bit by a wolf, you can get better and hunt down that son of a bitch. But you can’t go out and even the score with a pathogen. Well, technically I killed it in the process of getting better, but its progeny will live on, mutate, and infect other human beings. In fact, someday those twisted offspring will be back, and I’ll have to put them down again. Assuming I’m up for it.

I was the last person in the house to get sick, so I saw this coming a week ago. I saw the others get picked off, but there’s nothing you can do but wait for your turn. When I finally got sick, everyone else had pretty much recovered. I went around the house mocking myself saying, “I am suffering in a painfully unique way and nobody else understands what I’m going though!”

This particular illness is ridiculous. It’s some sort of multiple-personality disease that draws symptoms at random. It starts off with fever and intense headache. Six hours later those symptoms are gone, replaced by aching joints and stomach cramps. The next morning it’s a thundering heartbeat and extreme drymouth. Dizziness and congestion! A dry cough and a neck ache! What is this? Some kind of Whitman’s Sampler of esoteric symptoms?

The most interesting was the interval on Saturday where the only symptom was that my face hurt. Not my sinuses, my eyes, or mucus membranes. I’m talking about teeth, cheekbones, lower jaw, and nose. It literally felt like I’d been beaten and I was just waiting for the bruises to appear. I’ve never even heard of a sickness doing that. I’ve somehow caught a bug that can punch you in the face. Our science isn’t ready for this!

So that’s what I did on my weekend.

You might want to go wash your hands when you leave this site.


From The Archives:

81 thoughts on “Whinge and Whine

  1. overpoweredginger says:

    For the record, this was a wonderful diatribe about your weekend. Did you play any XCOM or Dishonored, perchance?

  2. Simon Buchan says:

    I’m nowadays very grateful for my near-immunity to disease – the furthest I get most times is the whole “oh man I’ve been real tired and sore the last few days, I must be coming down with something”… and then I just get better. I’ve had 2 sick days in the last 6-7 years I’ve been working. Though the about 7 days total at school before that I wasn’t as happy about! (Hard to fake being sick when your mum’s a doctor)

    TL;DR: <fart-sounds being made from my mouth>

    (Hopefully, it’s obvious I’m mocking myself for praising myself above there, and not actually making fun of you for your suffering, Shamus :P)

    1. Simon Buchan says:

      Also, XCOM is awesomesauce. I just think everyone should know that.

    2. Jarenth says:

      Goddamnit your TL;DR nearly made me spit coffee on my screen.

    3. Raygereio says:

      Ah yes, illnesses.[/Turian councilor] That’s that thing other people have.

      Having a tough immune system has it’s benefits. But naturally there has to be balance. Which in my case is a predisposition for cancer and having to play nurse when my housemates have caught a disease.
      Oh and last week I had the fun pleasure having take the workload of an entire department when 5 guys suffered from severe foodpoisoning for a few days, while I merely had a funky feeling in my stomach for a few hours.

      On second thought, perhaps the crappy immune system isn’t so bad. You get more days off at least.

      1. Dave B. says:

        The thing is, if you actually need your sick days, you can’t possibly enjoy them.

      2. Volfram says:

        In my case it’s horrible allergies, but they’re mostly under control now.

        My company doesn’t have sick days, we have PTO. It’s better to use it when you aren’t sick.

        Fun fact: I also do not get cavities.(I’m at extreme risk for gum disease instead)

        1. anaphysik says:

          “Went to the dentist. Got told my teeth were perfect, but my gums have to come out…”

          1. Volfram says:

            Actually, because your gums do a significant part of the job of keeping your teeth attached to your jaw, basically instead of obnoxious toothaches that result in intimate visits with a drill, I have to floss and brush my teeth RELIGIOUSLY or they’ll start spontaneously falling out.

            Until then, I still have perfect teeth. It’s much more min/maxed than cavities.

            1. anaphysik says:

              (Old joke my dad told me, many of your Earth years ago.)

    4. Volfram says:

      You too, eh?

      “What is it with you people and getting sick!? Being sick isn’t fun. That’s why I don’t do it.”

  3. As a fellow old guy, I was amused that you thought it necessary to link to what a Whitman’s Sampler was, so’s the kids what won’t get offa yer lawn would know what you was usin’ the blog-o-matic typewriter to say… just like I would’ve, actually.

    Yeah, they’d only know about them if they have grandparents who give them out during the holidays or have a fossilized one they offer up whenever company comes.

    What is the hip and young thing to reference that connotates a variety of something? A pack of Pokemon cards? The Steam Holiday sale? The ever-changing array of flavor-colors available for Mountain Dew?

    1. anaphysik says:

      What truly amazes me is how these young’uns (and I say that as a mere 24-year old) rarely have the sense to google something they don’t know or recognize. Oblique references obviously need linkies in order to be explained to those who don’t know (note that this is not limited to a younger generation; anyone not familiar with the particular culture being referenced is going to need that link, such as foreign readers), but when something is blatantly stated (like the Whitman’s Sampler here), a quick tromp through the search engine will clear any doubt.

      (I see this lack of will to look things up a lot with my younger brother.)

      Of course, I understood the Sampler ref immediately. They still come out in the US around winter time.

      Oh, and, um, glad you’re feeling not-dead/not-undead anymore, Shamus.

      1. anaphysik says:

        And on the topic of references, “Eight comments? Nobody’s THAT hungry.” feels like one as well, but I can’t find anything like it :[
        Well, it’s intrinsically funny for some bizarre reason, anyway.

        1. Sydney says:

          “Ate comments? Nobody’s THAT hungry.”

          1. anaphysik says:


            I feel like I would’ve gotten that if it were on Rutskarn’s blog instead.

            Unrelatedly, why are δ and ε afraid of ζ? Because ζ η θ!

            1. Jake Albano says:

              You’re my favorite person of the day.

              1. anaphysik says:

                That joke is one of my favoritest things that I’ve added to human culture.

                (Apparently, some others have independently invented it, but since I can date it back to at least 10 years ago, probably more (understand that this is getting into ‘before Wikipedia’ territory), I think I’ll be the one getting the Nobel Prize for Humour.)

          2. Nick says:

            Aww, and here I thought it was a reference to bytes

            1. Pete says:

              I always thought it was because that d8 looks kind of edible.

              1. Volfram says:

                I thought people were too hungry to post…

      2. Hitch says:

        Typical quote of the incurious youth of today: “I didn’t know that was a real thing. I thought that was just a term somebody made up.”

        No! It doesn’t work like that. People only say things because they mean something. Or at least that’s the way it used to be.

        / end rant.

        1. Mari says:

          Typical quote of the incurious youth of today. “I loved that song ‘You Spin Me Round’ from ‘The Wedding Singer.’ I can’t believe they made up a song like that and it fit in so well with the 80s music too!” And yes, I actually heard a young person say that. But nobody will ever hear her say it again because I buried her deep.

          1. Stranger says:

            Tell me you made sure she never bred as well.

          2. anaphysik says:

            I’m calling shenanigans on this. How they could possibly understand that song if they’ve likely never even seen a record?

            1. Mari says:

              I live in a very rural community where the sight of records isn’t at all uncommon even now. The local “television and radio” store still sells genuine simulated wood-grain console televisions – no joke. I don’t even know where the hell you FIND those to sell them and based upon the connections they may be remaindered stock from the 1970s. She, no doubt, had seen many records in her time – she apparently just hadn’t LISTENED to any of them.

          3. Phantos says:

            A friend of mine is convinced the song “Beyond the Sea” was made specifically for Finding Nemo.

            1. StashAugustine says:

              Of course not, it was written for Bioshock.

            2. Mari says:

              I weep for the world when people are so clueless about the music of days past.

              1. Takkelmaggot says:

                Should there be a statute of limitations on that? I’ll bet a dose of Metamucil that neither of us can so much as whistle anything by, say, Eddie Canter. No disrespect intended, including to Eddie, or Charles Trenet for that matter.

    2. Sumanai (Asimech) says:

      Somehow “booster pack of symptoms” doesn’t sound as good as “Whitman’s Sampler of symptoms” to tell the truth, and I don’t know any better examples. “Long Grass of symptoms”, maybe?

      Anyway, I have never seen Whitman’s stuff, but the “sampler” pretty much reveals what is meant. Even though I haven’t seen that many sampler packages of anything. So I’d say it has a better chance of being understood than my references.

      Hmm… “Steam sale of symptoms” has nice alliteration, but still opaque.

      Edit: “Retro City Rampage of symptoms” – I don’t think I can go more current than that. Which is in its own way funny.

  4. HiEv says:

    My sympathies.

    I’ve been dealing with some flu-like symptoms myself for nearly a week now.

    It started with a sore throat, and has since gone on to include: headache, muscle aches, fever, runny nose (whole box of tissues gone in 4 days), painful sneezing, exhaustion, insomnia, mouth pain (WTH?), sporadic coughs (laughing at this article caused one of these), chest congestion/labored breathing, and a desire to do little more than sit around watching a ton of anime (I’m not sure if that last one counts as a symptom, but mission accomplished in any case).


    Hope you’re feeling better now.

  5. Hoffenbach says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I had to take the link to learn what a Whiteman’s sampler is.
    I hope you’re feeling better and not getting punched in the face anymore, Shamus.

    1. Hitch says:

      The Whitman’s Sampler is best known as the box of chocolates that makes Forrest Gump and his mother look stupid. It comes with a chart inside the lid that tells you exactly what you’re getting.

      1. anaphysik says:

        But only if you’re able to match it up right! Too often have I seen others put it upside down (or for certain lids not notice that it’s mirrored, not transposed), and so get something totally different.

        Perhaps the saying would be more accurate as “Life is like a box of chocolates… from a psychotic, manic-depressive chocolatier with DID.”

        1. In theory, those chocolates (and the ones from Russell Stover’s) have a kind of code that’s decipherable by the shape of the confectionery and the pattern of swirls/lines on the top of each.

          I’m pretty sure that’s a language that’s lesser-known than Klingon, for most people.

          1. Hitchmeister says:

            There are usually enough pieces with distinctive shapes that you can orient the chart well enough to avoid the unsweetened dark chocolate covering inedible slimy goo. That’s enough for me.

            1. kmc says:

              It never fails to crack me up when Jim Gaffigan refers to these as “gamble chocolate.” Gamble Chocolate

      2. aldowyn says:

        *clicks link* Oh, I’ve had those. I just didn’t recognize the name for some reason.

  6. evileeyore says:

    Right… sick… Just own up, we know you came down with a terrible case of XCOM.

    I’ve been fighting it off all weekend myself.

  7. Nick-B says:

    Illnesses are just strange. Once, I caught some strange one that hit me in the middle of the evening, and threw up once an hour for the rest of the night. It was eventually all just slightly acidic water (I had to wash that out of my mouth), yet it still came up. Felt better later the next morning.

    Makes me appreciate why it is you can go to a clinic and they can’t tell you what you have. It’s not like a computer problem you can diagnose, all they can rely on are a few positive/negative tests, and go on what YOU tell THEM is wrong.

    There’s a reason House never gets the diagnosis right off the bat. It’s just not that common that you can die or get horribly bad from it like in the show, thankfully.

    1. StranaMente says:

      That sounds like food poisoning, maybe you ate something out of date, or you’re allergic to something?

      About the misteries of medicine, yes, we called it science, but actually it’s more statistics, approximation and cortisone (i.e. snake oil) when everything else fail.

    2. Mike S. says:

      This is why we need tricorders.

  8. Deadyawn says:

    Well, personally I can’t think of a better time to get sick than right after multiple major releases. I may have called in sick on friday because of that.

    Seriously though, I feel for you on the whole ilness thing. That sounds pretty bad

  9. Mephane says:

    Ouch. As soon as I saw that image, I knew something’s bad. I am actually genuinely relieved that you were “merely” sick, that image felt so heart-wrenchingly painful that I already feared much worse.

  10. Faust says:

    Just know that however bad you’ve got it, you’re still doing better than those poor bastards on your X-COM squad.

  11. Grudgeal says:

    Technically, you *can* go out and even the score with a pathogen. Ask smallpox.

    Oh, wait, you can’t, because we eradicated that sucker off the face of the Earth.

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      As far as you know…

      It could just be biding its time, like Cthulhu.

      Also, injecting everyone with a dead version of Cowpox is kinda Synthesis ending to me – I don’t feel I actually won.

      “Yo dawg, we didn’t want to be huskified and turned into cyborgs, so we turned ourselves into cyborgs.”

      Replace “huskified” with “dead” and “turned into cyborgs” with “filled with a virus”, and it’s pretty much the exact same plan.

    2. Raygereio says:

      Oh, wait, you can't, because we eradicated that sucker off the face of the Earth.

      It’s still around in captivity. The US and Russia have a stockpile of the stuff. This despite the fact that there’s no real scientific or public health benefit to keeping it around.

      Gotta have that biologic weapon option. A more nightmarish thought is that after the collapse of the Sovjet Union some of their biological, chemical and nuclear stockpiles (along with their conventional weapons) dissapeared before Russia’s new goverment could get a grip on things and remains under the radar to this day.
      Let’s all be glad that deploying such weapons requires more resources then terrorist cells and the like are capable off.

      1. BeardedDork says:

        The existing supply can be used by one nation to create a vaccine, should the other nation choose to weaponize their supply.

        Besides these things do have a tendency to come back.

        1. Madagascar has closed its ports.

          1. anaphysik says:

            /Pandemic/ reference?

            1. StashAugustine says:


        2. Raygereio says:

          Whelp. I suppose it’s comforting to know that some thing – such cold war sillyness – are eternal.

          Currently the only threat of re-emergence comes from the smallpox stockpiles. It simply doesn’t exist in the wild anywhere on the globe. Smallpox only infects humans through natural transmission so it can’t “hide” somewhere.
          As for vaccin: The smallpox virus is not used to make it. It’s made from cowpox.

          1. anaphysik says:

            Indeed. There’s something to be said for preserving all things, even if just in the most isolated manner possible… But, really, I can’t help but feel it’s worth just getting rid of every single bit of smallpox we have. The risk of a careless accident causing an outbreak is not worth the potential benefit that could be gained from studying the strains, or even the historical value in preserving it for others to see. Just compile a ‘complete’ record of the strains and then destroy them.

            A little bit of the scientist in me finds this sad, but I feel a certain odd pride in humanity when I see that Wikipedia’s article on smallpox begins: “Smallpox was an infectious disease”

  12. Eruanno says:

    Is this why I woke up with a terrible cold yesterday? Because I visited Shamus’ blog? Darn it! *Sneezes*

    1. Mari says:

      That’s why you should always run virus protection on your computer.

      /ducks and runs from the inevitable flung produce

      1. anaphysik says:

        “/ducks and runs from the inevitable flung produce”

        You know the denizens of this site too poorly. = I applaud your punnery.

        Also, be sure to wipe your computer with a fresh tissue.

  13. MichaelG says:

    I don’t get a decent night’s sleep more than one night out of ten. And during the day, there’s the constant irritations of my disability (paraplegic.)

    Don’t you feel better now?

  14. Porecomesis says:

    Well, that sounds painful. Good to hear that you’re back.

    You know, I went to give blood not too long ago. My mum was going to do so as well but she got the cold. About three days after giving blood, I got the cold as well. Bloody hell, at least one person in this household of six, seven if you count the dog, should have seen that coming.

  15. TheMich says:

    Glad you got better! I had a plethora of symptoms too when I got the flu, but I’ve never heard of such a pastiche!

  16. I wonder if this “thing” that’s been around forever, is actually vital for humans, as it helps our immune system to keep evolving.
    It’s one of those things that makes you feel like your dying but your not really dying.
    It’s more like a immune system boot camp.

    On the other hand it also helps weed out that are really weak of the human species if one look at it pragmatically.
    In general “getting rid of it” is probably not smart as that would weaken the immune system of the human species.

    Odd how the world works isn’t it.

    1. Grudgeal says:

      Not really. It’s a bit complex, but basically the immune system of all higher life on Earth works by ‘evolving’ a new response to every pathogen it touches in a matter of days, by developing something called specific antigens. For a very primitive metaphor, imagine a virus as one of those baby toy boxes with shaped holes on top, and the immune system as a baby with access to lots of different pegs in a dark room — the immune system picks ‘pegs’ whose shapes it can’t see at random and rams them into the ‘hole’ whose shape it can’t see until it finds the best possible fit. The metaphor falls a bit apart after that because the immune system has a *very* good memory for pathogens and respond quickly to re-infection by that same pathogen, which is how vaccines work.

      If seasonal flu got eradicated, all we’d get was that the immune system would never need to develop a particular response to one particular disease — continuing on the metaphor, a seasonal flu is a toy box with two different holes on top that shows up with ever-so-different changes in hole shape every year, making last year’s pegs not fit. We would still have every other disease in the world keeping the immune system (slightly less) busy.

      On a long-term scale, though, it’s believed diseases and their hosts actually co-evolve, with each side trying to evolve faster than the other and thus ‘defeat’ their opponent. Anyone interested can google or wiki search the “Red Queen Hypothesis” for more details.

  17. Naota says:

    You might want to go wash your hands when you leave this site.

    No need; I’ve already caught the damn thing. I’m fairly certain a physician of even 150 years ago would have diagnosed this as demonic possession.

    It’s been nearly two weeks of alternating symptoms but persistently feeling like crap and having no desire to do anything. Granted, my sample pack of illness didn’t have nearly as many varieties as yours – I got by on the trifecta of pounding heartbeat + freezing even in sweaters, constant upset stomach with additional misery, and light fever thinking I’m getting better before starting the cycle right over again with less potent (but no less annoying) symptoms. I’m on the third round now, and I’ve mustered the will to write a comment.

    I cast thee out, demon-germs.

  18. aldowyn says:

    I saw Heather tweet about the household getting sick, and I was pretty sure this was coming. Seems like you get super sick relatively regularly :/

    As for me, I’ve never caught anything worse than the flu (and that only a few times), and I can sleep that off over a weekend. As in “I am literally going to do nothing but sleep and MAYBE eat for this entire weekend”

    1. anaphysik says:

      Hey, Aldowyn, were you going to start up that ME2 LP again? Haven’t heard a peep in quite the while!

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Yeah. Soon. I was gone this weekend or I would have recorded. I was having some issues with my mic… Should be starting next week. I keep saying that…

    2. lurkey says:

      If it died within a weekend, it wasn’t a true flu if you pardon my rhyming. Genuine fiend stays with your for a week at least. That said, sleeping through all weekend with no eating is very good, valid tactics of battling the variety of common cold viruses (virii?) Especially if punctuated with large quantities of hot tea and slightly lesser quantities of room temperature vodka.

  19. Mari says:

    I routinely get illnesses that punch me in the face. In my case, though, it’s due to a weird set of conditions whereby the sinus cavities expanding and contracting as they fill and empty constantly leaves the whole face feeling bruised and sore to the touch. So it’s not so much the illness that punches me in the face as my own sinus cavities punching me in the face. But at least I don’t have a tooth embedded in them like my daughter.

  20. anaphysik says:

    Sometimes I have these horrible bouts of phantom limb syndrome, where my new arm punches me in the face. For some reason, it only happens when I pun around other people. Anyway, that’s what they tell me after I wake up from my unconsciousness.

  21. Steve C says:

    That’s a great reason why you’ve been scarce the last few days. I hope you feel better soon.

    What’s the rest the posse’s reason why haven’t updated the build queue in GW2 for the previous week+?

  22. JPH says:

    I’m waiting.


  23. Ateius says:

    I caught that same bug last year. I was just as thoroughly confused at the kaleidoscope of symptoms.

  24. GM says:

    I don´t remember what i get well beside the throwing up one.

  25. Paul Spooner says:

    I laughed out loud at your complaining technique. It’s such a good lesson to learn! No matter how absurd our circumstances, there are people nearby (and probably all around us) who know how we feel. It doesn’t make the pain any less, but it makes it bearable.
    Thanks for sharing.

  26. Lalaland says:

    Just a post to offer my sympathy and to educate others on the health risks of “The Man-Flu”


  27. You might want to go wash your hands when you leave this site.

    True story, ‘k?

    So a family friend of ours–older guy with grown kids? This is about HIS parents. So the grandparents to said friend’s kids right? Cool! The dad sat down at the computer while eating a white powder-sugar doughnut. The mom walks in later, sees some of the white powder-sugar on the keyboard, and thinks someone emailed them anthrax. Really. xD

  28. Tal Shterzer says:

    While I was sick, a few days back, and had to stay home and recuperate, I came across this interesting strategy game on my android tablet (also available on iOS).
    The game is called Plague Inc. and you play a bacteria, earning DNA points while you infect people around the world.
    With those points, you can modify the symptoms, transmission of the disease and other aspects (which seems somewhat real) and it makes for a cool game to pass 15-20 minutes while in bed.
    Check it out, it’s at http://www.ndemiccreations.com/

  29. anaphysik says:

    I haven’t played the one you link to, but a number of games have this theme.

    frex, here’s a couple off the top of my head that can be played on Kongregate (as well as elsewhere):

    Pandemic 2 is pretty similar to what you describe, where you manage a strain and try to make it global (and very definitely try not to have Madagascar close all its ports and airports).

    Phage Wars 2 is more of an action strategy game (I guess RTS would be the right descriptor) where the goal is to out-compete other strains.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Obviously this was meant to be a reply @Tal Shterzer.
      I thought I saw that it was, but it’s seemingly has now fallen off as its own thread?

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