By Shamus Posted Sunday Feb 19, 2017

Filed under: Personal 114 comments

A big part of what I do around here is make lemons into lemonade. If I have a programming problem, I write about programming. If I have a problem with a videogame, I write an article about the videogame. If I have a problem with Uplay, then it’s Tuesday.

So maybe it would be more accurate to say that I take lemons and make them into long complaints about lemons. Whatever. It seems to be working out well enough for us so far.

The point is that I’m not sure my usual technique can work here. I’m just finishing up my worst week in years and I’m way behind on my writing. I haven’t been on this site in days, even to read the comments. I don’t know if I’ll have any content for you this coming week and so I’m trying to do the lemons-to-lemonade thing to fill the gap. Also, having a really good bitch-and-moan can be kind of therapeutic.

On the other hand, I’m not sure if I have anything insightful to say about the mundane experience of getting sick. It happens. To all of us. It’s stupid and miserable and we’ve sort of come to accept it as part of being alive on this planet. It’s like if we just accepted that once every six to eighteen months, you have to take a totally random baseball bat to the face for no reason. Ken comes into work on Tuesday with the left side of his face swollen shut and everyone is like, “Dude! Looks like the baseball bat really got you this year.” And Ken just nods his head like, “Mffgh gh mxxxlt.”

The baseball bat this year was a vicious, hateful, pernicious son of a bitch. I really hate this thing, and it’s frustrating that there’s no way to get revenge on something with no sense of identity, memory, or intelligence. I’d love to go all Liam Neeson on this bastard for what it just did to my family.

Heather got it first. It’s the sickest I’ve seen her since 2001. It was so bad she couldn’t stand, so it was up to the rest of the family to try and keep her hydrated and sneak some calories into her when she was feeling brave.

This is why I missed the anniversary episode of the Diecast last week. I didn’t want Heather to text me from the other room saying she needed help getting to the bathroom, and I’d have to reply with, “Sorry babe! Gotta do the internet show!”

Then it hit the rest of us in the household – Esther (17), Issac (15), and myself (1,000) – on Tuesday. This happened one day before Heather had fully recovered. So there was one day last week where there were no healthy people left to care for the sickOn Valentines Day, no less..

You know those big-budget Bollywood movies where the movie is like 4 hours long, and it’s got dark sci-fi, slapstick comedy, a kinda sappy romance with a pop star, a prolonged musical number, and a seemingly unrelated side-plot where a couple of down-on-their-luck buddies go on a road trip together? And halfway through you can’t even remember who these people are or what their goals are because it feels like you’re watching like six different movies spliced together? That’s what this flu was like. It was long, confusing, and it wouldn’t even constrain itself to a particular genre of symptoms. Every time you thought it was building up to some kind of conclusion it just changed gears and added a bunch of new crap to the mix.

I think we should name the flu the way we name hurricanes, because then we’ll have a name to curse when talking about it. It’s much more memorable to talk about “Hurricane Gonzalo” as opposed to “that time it rained really hard in Bermuda in 2014”. With this in mind – and in honor of the flu’s genre-bending nature – I’ve named this flu Bollypox. I apologize to fans of Bollywood. I suppose it’s not fair to fans of Bollywood to name this savage bastard of an illness after their cinema, but in my defense “Bollypox” was devised under intense fever conditions and it was literally the only creative thing I accomplished in the last week.

Check out these symptoms:

  1. Fever.
  2. Chest congestion.
  3. Nasal congestion.
  4. Aches and pains.
  5. Earaches.

Okay, pretty standard stuff. That’s about what I’d expect from your average misery virus. Except, that’s just the first day. After that…

  1. Stomach pain, vomiting.
  2. Diarrhea.
  3. Sore throat.
  4. A constant cough that accomplishes nothing except to generate pain and wake you up if you manage to fall asleep.
  5. Dizziness.

Okay, this is clearly overboard. You could get like two and a half flu seasons out of those symptoms. But no. That’s just the stuff that gets added around day three. And then you get into the weird shit…

  1. A mind-destroying headache. Have you never had a migraine before? No? Well buckle up, because this will be a new experience for you. My wife basically couldn’t open her eyes for about 36 hours while this was going on. You thought that cough hurt yesterday? You have no idea.
  2. Kidney pain.

Every day or so your fever will stop and you’ll start sweating. “Oh good,” you foolishly think, “This insufferable jackass is finally done with me and I can go back to living my life!” And then six hours later the fever shoots up again.

We’ve always referred to the sweating phase as “sweating it out”. I have no idea if there’s any medical basis to that description or if it’s a bit of Edwardian medical folklore that’s hung around into the modern times. But I’ve always heard people say things like, “Oh good. Your fever broke and you’re sweating it out. Get all those nasty germs out of your system. You’ll be able to go to school tomorrow!”

But maybe the sweat is just there to cool you down so you don’t roast your brain, and it’s not actually a means of expelling invaders. I have no idea. Every time I try to look up medical things on Wikipedia it turns out everyone is wrong and then I have to spend the rest of my life resisting the urge to correct people.

The point is that “false hope, followed by cruel disappointment” is part of the process, to the point where maybe I should have just listed it as a symptom.

At any rate, we’re not done yet. There’s one symptom left:

  1. Eye pain.

This is a new one. I’m 46 years old and I’ve never had the flu attack my eyes like this before. Moving them hurts. Adjusting to light hurts. And just in case you still had some sanity left, that stupid useless lingering cough makes them really hurt. I’m supposedly “better” now in the sense that I’m back in my computer chair and typing again, but my eyes still get a little twinge of pain if I move them too quickly.

And those are just the core symptoms that everyone gets. There’s a bunch of extra nonsense that varies from person to person. I had bad itching. My wife got a bloody nose. My kids each had a unique twist added to their particular version of Bollypox.

I Can’t Even

It was kind of interesting to note my changing behaviors as the unpleasantness intensified. At first I just lost the ability to be creative. I couldn’t work, so I switched to playing videogames. But then even playing a game was a little too challenging. So I downloaded a save-game editor for Borderlands 2 and created a new character that was level 51, with accompanying stats and gear. From there I just held down the W key and made all the bad guys explode in one hit. There was no challenge and no threat. I didn’t need to think. I could just follow the map markers and make psychos explode. Somehow, that level of empty sensory gratification was really working for me.

But then as things progressed, even holding W and aiming was asking too much. So I closed the game and started browsing Imgur. That worked for another day or so, but then I sort of lost the ability to engage with the material. If there was text, I wouldn’t read it. If you were supposed to scroll down, I wouldn’t. I never laughed at the jokes and I forgot an image the moment I hit the “Next” button. I just mindlessly clicked to continue the drip-feed of visual stimulus.

Eventually even that was asking too much, and I ended up laying in the dark, doing nothing. When I recovered, I worked backwards through the layers, eventually returning to LOL-mode Borderlands 2. I guess since I’m writing this, I’ve come out the other side.

I was going to put "Will To Live" on this chart, but I realized that would just perfectly overlap the existing line.
I was going to put "Will To Live" on this chart, but I realized that would just perfectly overlap the existing line.

My kids went through the same thing. First games. Then watching murder mysteries on the couch. Then watching Kipper. Then the TV screensaver. Then back to Kipper, murder mysteries, games, and then (I’m hoping eventually) off the couch again.

When people try to cheer you up during an illness, they sometimes say things like, “Just be glad you don’t have cancer!” This is possibly the most terrifying and un-comforting thing you could say to me. Getting the flu really bad doesn’t give me a magic get-out-of-cancer-for-free card. When a sickness pushes you to the limit of your ability to endure suffering and hardship, the LAST thing you want is to be reminded that someday you could face something ten times worse. If you really wanted to cheer me up you’d say something like, “Don’t worry. This is as bad as it will ever get.”

So anyway. That sucked. 0/10. Would not contract again.

No, I didn’t read your comment. I didn’t see your email. I haven’t done that thing you’re waiting for.

Topic of conversation: What do you do for comfort and stimulus when sick?



[1] On Valentines Day, no less.

From The Archives:

114 thoughts on “Bollypox

  1. Piflik says:

    PSA: don’t look up symptoms on the internet. Ever. If you ask the internet, you always have cancer, even if you look for no symptoms at all.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      That,or lupus.

      1. Jan says:

        But of course, it’s never Lupus.

        1. Joe says:

          I know what you’re referencing and why. But lupus killed my aunt last year. The joke has rather lost its appeal. Sometimes it is lupus.

    2. SeekerOfThePath says:

      Well, avoid “p2p” health fora :)

      NHS Choices is my current go-to site, to at least help deciding whether to see a GP.

      1. Viktor says:

        I’ll save you a websearch. If you have symptoms of anything and health insurance, see a GP. It costs so little that it’s not worth the risk to wait. If you don’t have insurance, dont see a GP. If there’s something wrong with you and they find it, you can’t afford to fix it, so why bother going?

        1. GeoG says:

          The calculus is slightly different in Britain, which is where I’d guess SeekerOfThePath is from given the reference to NHS Choices. “NHS” is the British National Health Service – for anyone (insurance not required), it would be free to go to the GP and likely mostly free to be treated, if that turned out necessary. So, it’s often worth checking online first rather than stressing the busy system further than is needed.

          1. Writiosity says:

            I wouldn’t honestly trust anything the NHS says, tbh. They still have that ridiculous low fat high carb food pyramid nonsense up as recommended diet, that alone is enough to disqualify absolutely everything anyone at the NHS says or does.

            1. GeoG says:

              This is a ridiculous, utterly disproportionate thing to say about a million-strong workforce who do amazing work under difficult conditions. They saved my life when I went into ventricular fibrillation, and they treated my father amazingly well as he fought cancer, giving us an extra five years with him before he finally succumbed.

              The fact that you have strong views about nutrition – which no one truly understands – doesn’t give you any sort of right to cast belittling judgment on so many hardworking and poorly compensated individuals, and I think you should retract what you’ve said, as it is unacceptable as it stands.

            2. MichaelGC says:

              NHS ranked ‘number one’ health system

              The NHS has been ranked the number one health system in a comparison of 11 countries.


              The ranking
              1 UK
              2 Australia
              3 Netherlands
              4 = New Zealand
              4 = Norway
              6 = Sweden
              6 = Switzerland
              8 Germany
              9 Canada
              10 France
              11 US

        2. Richard says:

          In the civilised world, getting medical treatment doesn’t bankrupt you.
          – I’d add a smiley, but it’s just not funny.

          In the UK, getting medical treatment is simply free. (Paid for by taxes)
          – Unless you need a prescription from a pharmacy, in which case it’s currently £8.40 (USD 10.43), no matter what it is.
          – Unless you’re old, pregnant or unemployed, when it’s totally free.

          The UK’s NHS is a little creaky, but it’s objectively awesome and incredibly cheap.
          – In 2015, the UK spent $4000/person and treated everyone, while the US spent over $9000/person and, well, didn’t.
          (Both figures include public and private healthcare)

          Weirdly, the waiting times for free NHS treatment are quite similar to the wait times for private US treatment. I get annoyed waiting two-three hours when it’s free – I’d be really irritated if I also had to pay for it!

          I’m also very fortunate in that flu inoculations are cheap to free, so I’ve had one every year and greatly reduced the chances of me and mine suffering Shamus’ family’s fate.

          1. Tizzy says:

            Mostly good points, except for a quibble on the last one. I’ve seen headlines suggesting that this year’s flu vaccine effectiveness is around 50%, so it may not have helped.

            (Also, the flu vaccine is free to cheap in the US, at least from what I’ve seen. I got mine for free at work, which was super convenient, but at the same time not surprising given that there’s a hell of an incentive for large office type workplaces to have a strong rate of immunization. )

            1. guy says:

              It’s avalible at CVS for 15$ or so.

            2. Baron Tanks says:

              Flu vaccinations are always only going to be only partly helpful because there’s multiple types of flu causing viruses around, with different properties. Not to get too nitty gritty but the one you get vaccinated against is the one you’ll be immune to at the time. On top of that these viruses change with mutations (hence you needing new shots every year) and a vaccination by its very nature will only protect you against known variants and not something that wasn’t around at the time of the vaccin. That’s why this is of limited effect and it’s typically recommended to specific groups such as people that are extra vulnerable (such as the elderly) or healthcare professionals as they are more likely to be frequently exposed to viral sources.

  2. Content Consumer says:

    Eye pain.

    I had this happen to me a few years ago, accompanied with most (not all) of your listed symptoms. It was a real surprise, and agreed, quite unpleasant. “Quite Unpleasant” is probably the most passive way to describe the visceral horror of the whole experience, BTW.

    As for what I do for comfort and stimulus when sick, generally I sit in front of the computer and watch every single Crapshots episode in a row, followed by Commodore Hustle. Yes, I’ve seen them dozens of times, but it’s simultaneously engaging and distant enough that it fills the void where my brain used to be.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Me, I play games when I’m sick. New ones, old ones, ones I’ve beaten. I used to do the same thing with movies, but lately it feels like I’ve seen all the good movies. There’s still some really good ones that come out, like Dredd or… I’m by coincidence sick this weekend, so I can’t remember any more movies, or complete any complicated thoughts. Factorio is fun, though – I launched my rocket yesterday, finally! :)

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I don't know if I'll have any content for you this coming week

    There have been a few “insightful” spambots,so youre set at least for part 3 of that series.

  4. Destrustor says:

    For comfort when sick, I usually just lie in bed trying to sleep, but then the daydreamy stories I tell myself to lull myself to sleep get mangled by my not-quite-functioning brain and I end up getting hung up on stupid pedantic details that stop the daydream from progressing and even go so far as to reset the whole narrative so I can get it just right, prompting an endless cycle of re-imagining the first five minutes of a fun little idea for hours.

    Like that time I was trying to go along with some kind of space race, but I never made it past the starting line because I had to know exactly how many asteroids were scattered along the way, and where each of them was. It was very important to know these things, you see. I wouldn’t be able to imagine the exact sequence of events without an exact map of the track’s hazards, you see.

    God damn asteroids, man.

    1. Droid says:

      Hey, I’m not the only one who does that!

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Topic of conversation: What do you do for comfort and stimulus when sick?

    Sleep.I find a youtube channel that has very little in terms of visuals(so a bunch of podcasts,basically),play the longest playlist,and try to comatose myself as much as possible.It usually works and I get better after basically sleeping for a full day.Sleep is a very effective remedy.

    1. Syal says:

      Even if it does have a lot of visuals, you can minimize the window and just let the sound play.

      I usually turn on something I’ve seen already so my brain is okay with missing parts.

      1. Zidy says:

        Yup. Spoiler Warning and loadingreadyrun’s Checkpoint series are my favorite youtube playlists for when I’m feeling miserable just because I can close my eyes, just listen to everyone, and hopefully get some sleep. Even if it’s a season I’m not as familiar with, I never mind waking up after an hour of dozing and having no idea what’s going on in the game because the conversation is always interesting. So Shamus and gang – thanks for always making my sick days more bearable. :)

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    When people try to cheer you up during an illness, they sometimes say things like, “Just be glad you don't have cancer!”

    Wait,does someone actually do that?Thats horrible!Thankfully,I never had someone try to cheer me up in such a dumb way.

    1. Zekiel says:

      It is an astonishingly unhelpful thing to hear. (I’ve never heard it; but you do occasionally get the equivalents in other situations like “so you’ve lost your job – at least you don’t live in Aleppo” or whatever). It’s true, but it doesn’t help you at all – all it does it make you feel guilty for feeling miserable, as well as feeling miserable.

  7. Da Mage says:

    As a long sufferer of sinus infections, something I will point out.

    You complained of Dizziness, Eye pain, Nasal congestion and really bad headache, that’s a pretty good sign your sinus and ear got swollen by the virus. There are sinus behind your eyes that when they become swollen, puts pressure on the back of your eyes that just makes them ache constantly, which gets worse if you move them.

    I had a similar virus two years ago and it attacked my ears and damaged the nerves that regulate your balance. At the time I thought it was just a regular migraine, but then it just never went away. Worst 8 months of my life when I had constant migraine symptoms day-in-day-out until I got diagnosed and medicated. I’m glad to hear everyone in your family recovered fully.

    What did I do in that time off when I couldn’t do anything? I decided to catch up on some shows I’d never watched, Star Trek TNG, DS9, Battlestar galactica, Supernatural, all of One Piece and Dragonball, along with internet series like many seasons of Spoiler Warning I never watched.

  8. Geebs says:

    I once read the whole of the Lord of the Rings while ill, and despite a good-going fever I still didn’t manage to hallucinate anything as stupid as Legolas surfing down a flight of stairs on a shield.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      How about the “that still counts as one” scene?

    2. John says:

      Stop reminding me of that! Gah! I’m trying to repress all memories of that film.

    3. Geebs says:

      Oddly enough I’m incredibly tired right now and the thought of Legolas ramping off stuff has given me an inspiration:

      Jeremy Clarkson IS Saruman
      James May IS Gandalf
      Tiff Needell IS Elrond
      Chris Evans IS Gollum
      Richard Hammond IS Frodo

      Featuring Ken Block as Legolas


      Lord of the Rings In Cars On Ice

      OK you can throw your money at me now.

      1. Sleepy the Bear says:

        Some say he’s an elder king forever trapped in thrall to the Dark Lord via a magical ring that ate his soul… all we know is, he’s called the Stig!

    4. Yerushalmi says:

      True story: I once had a fever so high that I hallucinated that I was the abstract concept of a murder charge, and was being applied to various defendants in the court system.

      Better or worse than Legolas surfing down a flight of stairs on a shield?

      1. GeoG says:

        Blimey, that sounds mental. I’ve had ‘my arms and legs are chess pieces and can thus only move in prescribed limited ways,’ but that sounds like the equivalent of a slight sniffle and a light headache compared to becoming a legal principle!

  9. Zaxares says:

    Sorry to hear that, Shamus. :( Hope you and your family are all completely recovered now. My Mom just came back from a trip to Norway where she said she caught the worst flu she’s ever had, matching a lot of the symptoms you mentioned. It seems that this year’s flu strain is one of the most debilitating in recent years.

    I’ve been lucky to be blessed with an unusually powerful immune system. It’s rare for any sickness to render me bedridden, so on days when I’m feeling unwell, all I usually end up doing is calling off work and then spending the day playing video games while drinking more water than usual, then getting a good night’s sleep. By the next day I’m usually back to normal. This year’s flu was an exception though. While it still didn’t incapacitate me completely, it gave me a terrible sore throat and a pervasive cough that kept me awake at night, accompanied by lots of disgusting phlegm that I’ll spare you the description of.

  10. methermeneus says:

    Is this just a Pennsylvania thing? (Hi, I live at the other end of the state.) A guy at work had something like this happen, except if you swapped so he got it first, then his wife. And his kids are 10 and 5, which I imagine makes everything worse. I also got it around the same time (luckily, no family to infect), and somehow managed to work through it. Partly because the vegetable phase landed squarely on my day off.

    EDIT: typo fix

  11. Mr Compassionate says:

    Wow Shamus chill! I don’t need you to make more of that thing I love or read my comments. Just lay on the couch, pull over some covers and watch TV for as long as it takes. For some reason I genuinely care about you being happy, I must’ve gotten soft. If you need some advice then I reccomend you watch anime. It’s just movement, color and sound to stimulate your ailing brain while you suffer.

    1. Durican says:

      I also find myself caring a lot about the well-being and happiness of this foreigner I’ve never met. I have been lured in by the siren song of his entertaining and heartwarming autobiographies.

      The Mass Effect ranting helped, too.

  12. MrGuy says:

    I think it’s more that you’ve invented some sort of combustible lemon…

    1. Droid says:

      Hah! Metaphor derailed! :-D

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Well, then he can combine his lemons and cars analogies. :)

  13. Kathryn says:

    That sucks. Glad you guys are feeling better (or starting to, anyway).

    For me, if I’m well enough to play games (requires sitting up and focusing), I’m well enough to work (telework, errands around the house, whatever). When I’m sick, I’m either lying in bed half-sleeping and half-watching Burn Notice (usually season 3) or I’m up taking care of whatever needs to be done. I don’t have an intermediate level of wellness where I can concentrate enough to navigate in a 3d world with just a minimap* but can’t concentrate enough to do the dishes (though I obviously don’t touch clean dishes if I am still contagious) or pay the bills or review proposed requirement verifications. I can’t even really imagine such a state. I can tell by observation that it exists for others, but I can’t imagine it at all.

    *Ask my husband how many times I got lost trying to run in a straight line on the Archylte Steppe.

  14. John says:

    I got hit by the flu pretty badly last year, first on Thanksgiving and then again just in time for Christmas. Normally I just tough it out, but the Christmas flu was so bad that my wife hauled me to the Doctor on Christmas Eve. As I recall I mostly slept a lot. I probably watched some YouTube and listened to some podcasts on my phone while stuck in bed.

  15. baud001 says:

    Talking about lemon and lemonade always make me think about Portal 2.

  16. guy says:

    Usually when I’m sick I huddle in bed and read books, and if it’s really bad I intercut that with zoning out staring at nothing for several minutes.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Me too. When it gets bad enough that I can’t cope with light I lie in bed and listen to podcasts.

      I have young kids and they still need looking after even when their parents are ill. Unfortunately I am terrible at being ill, I just feel sorry for myself and get grumpy if anyone asks me to do anything (even when its totally reasonable to ask me). Fortunately my wife is amazing and takes up the slack, even when she’s ill too. I have literally no idea how single parents cope with being ill.

  17. Grudgeal says:

    0/10. Would not contract again.

    Good news: Thanks to your adaptive immune response, you won’t.

    …Of course there’s always next year’s flu because those little blighters keep changing their capsule proteins, but so it goes. If your health insurance/workplace/government covers a flu shot, I always recommend you take it.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thing is,the flu shots are only effective if you did not have the flu last time it was around,or if you managed to avoid it during the peak of this season.

      1. guy says:

        No, the flu shots are based off the projected major strains for the upcoming flu season, I assume based on what they’re starting to see when they begin manufacturing the vaccine. They’re usually pretty successful, though they do miss on occasion.

        CDC is reporting it’s been 47% successful in preventing infection this year overall, though that’s the average across multiple strains.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          But thats the thing,they are predicting possible strains that have already been around.And chances are if you had the flu,your body is already mostly protected from plenty of them.But being the nasty little mutator,flu usually springs a new mutation practically every season,and nothing can fully protect you from that.

          1. guy says:

            Yes, but they predict what strains will be prevalent in the next flu season, so the vaccine protects against those rather than just playing catch-up with the strains from last season.

            1. Richard says:

              Exactly this ^

              There are many strains of flu going around, and it doesn’t actually mutate all that fast – but its hosts travel rather a lot.

              The intention is to protect against the few strains that are most likely to be a problem this year, in this locality.

              So you won’t get the most prevalent ones, but may get one of the rarer ones.

              Of course, if everybody got the jab – and the companies guessed right – then herd immunity kicks in and practically nobody gets any flu.

              I thought I’d got unlucky this year in fact, but it turned out to be food poisoning instead – which was over so much quicker than flu would have been. Phew.

          2. “Already been around” means “the ones popping up in Asia,” by the way, where the new strains tend to get their start.

        2. Decius says:

          How are they getting two sig figs of effectiveness without doing some kind of RCT? Or is that “people who get the vaccine are 53% as likely to contract the flu as people who don’t , not controlling for likely confounders”?

          1. guy says:

            Pretty sure it’s somewhat the second one, though partially accounting for known factors.

      2. Alex Broadhead says:

        Thing is,the flu shots are only effective if you did not have the flu last time it was around,or if you managed to avoid it during the peak of this season.

        I’m wondering where you came by this (completely inaccurate) information? I’ve heard a lot of bad information about the flu vaccine (The nurse who was giving the shots at our company one year to me that I could get the flu from the vaccine!), but I’ve never heard that one before.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          The nurse who was giving the shots at our company one year to me that I could get the flu from the vaccine

          How is that inaccurate?Do you even know what a vaccine is?Its a weakened virus(or a part of the virus) designed to make your bodys immune system build defenses against the virus,even when it comes in full force.Now,if the virus was improperly weakened,or your immune system is particularly bad due to some other factor,the vaccine can end up making you sick.Its a long shot though,but shoddy vaccines are not unheard of in the third world countries.

          As for my information,its also not inaccurate.If you already have resistance/immunity to the strain thats in the vaccine,it will do nothing for you.It wont hurt you,true(except your wallet),but it wont help you either.

          1. Alex Broadhead says:

            My wife is a family physician, so yes, I’m familiar with vaccines. And no, you can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine. (It’s a long shot that your Tylenol will have cyanide in it; it can happen, but not without something going seriously wrong in the US market.) The informational sheet that they give out when you get the flu vaccine explicitly says as much.

            I don’t know where you are getting your information, but it’s not just wrong, it’s dangerously wrong to the extent that it encourages people not to vaccinate. Please do some actual research. The strain(s) of flu that circle the globe are continuously changing; the chances that this year’s strain is the same as the one you suffered through last year are miniscule. (And the whole ‘if you managed to avoid it during the peak of the season’ clause contradicts the ‘only effective if you didn’t have it last year’ clause, so I’m not sure what to make of either – you clearly didn’t get this from an actual doctor or scientist.)

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              I don't know where you are getting your information, but it's not just wrong, it's dangerously wrong to the extent that it encourages people not to vaccinate.

              Say what?Saying that a product made by humans can be faulty is wrong?And saying that the chances of said product being faulty are small encourages people not to use it?

              Yes,the safety of modern vaccines(any medicine,really) is higher than ever before.But believing that its 100% is just idealistically blind.If it were so,we wouldnt constantly be improving both the manufacturing and the control methods.Dont tug too far to the other side just because anti vaxers are so vocal.You arent helping anyone by doing so.

              The strain(s) of flu that circle the globe are continuously changing; the chances that this year's strain is the same as the one you suffered through last year are miniscule.

              First,those strains dong circle the earth equally.Some places have more circulation(of people,of animals,of cargo,…),some have less.

              Second,having resistance to one strain of flu does not mean you are susceptible to ALL the other strains.Thats also the reason why flu shots protect from more strains than just the ones inside it.

              So yeah,depending on where you live,chances are if you had the flu last season,you will not have it the next season.

              And the whole “˜if you managed to avoid it during the peak of the season' clause contradicts the “˜only effective if you didn't have it last year' clause,

              No,it doesnt.Flu shots are not a yearly thing.They get refined depending on how well the batch did,and new vaccines are released later in the year.

              1. Alex Broadhead says:

                Almost every ‘fact’ you present is wrong, either in degree or kind. (E.g. it’s not FUD to say that you can’t get the flu from the shot; it is FUD to say that you can.) Where are you getting your information, and why do you think you are right? Do you live in the US, or someplace where they produce vaccines on a different schedule than they do here?

                Seriously, if you were just making this stuff up you should gotten more things right, just by accident.

                Here’s a link to real information for those who want reliable data:


                And here’s a quote from the CDC:

                Why is there sometimes not a good match between a vaccine virus and circulating viruses?

                Flu viruses are constantly changing (called “antigenic drift”) ““ they can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season. Experts must pick which viruses to include in the vaccine many months in advance in order for vaccine to be produced and delivered on time. (For more information about the vaccine virus selection process visit Selecting the Viruses in the Influenza (Flu) Vaccine.) Because of these factors, there is always the possibility of a less than optimal match between circulating viruses and the viruses in the vaccine.

                And another:

                Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

                No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). The nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses. However, the viruses are attenuated (weakened), and therefore cannot cause flu illness. The weakened viruses are cold-adapted, which means they are designed to only cause infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose. The viruses cannot infect the lungs or other areas where warmer temperatures exist.


                PS: Is there some reason you use your own personal punctuation scheme? It makes reading your posts harder than it needs to be.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  *sigh*You are so adamant to prove me wrong that you dont even read what I say,rather just say “wrong” and then quote things that I have ALREADY SAID as they somehow refute me.I have specifically said “Its a weakened virus(or a part of the virus)“,and now you are quoting to me things that say exactly that same thing.How does that refute anything that Ive said?Does any of those quotes say “our manufacturing processes are infallible”?Does any of those quotes say “our testing processes are infallible”?

                  Also,does any of those quotes say “viruses circulate all of the countries with the same frequency”?Whats even funnier is that you tell me to check those facts out when you didnt even read them,or else youd find out that some countries DO indeed have two flu seasons per year.

                  Or how about this quote:”. Most results from studies assessing the effect of repeat vaccination show that people who do not receive a flu vaccination for the current or previous season are at a higher risk of medical visits due to infection with seasonal flu viruses.”Hmmm,why would they include the previous season if your resistances from the previous season are ineffective during the current season,I wonder.

                  Is there some reason you use your own personal punctuation scheme?

                  Yes.Its easier for me to type that way.

                  1. Alex Broadhead says:

                    Thing is,the flu shots are only effective if you did not have the flu last time it was around,

                    Argument: Flu shots are ineffective if you had the flu last time it was around.

                    Counter-argument: “Flu viruses are constantly changing (called “antigenic drift”) ““ they can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season.”

                    or if you managed to avoid it during the peak of this season.

                    Argument: Flu shots are only effective late in the season (presumably because they’ve been tuned for the current strain).

                    Counter-argument: “Experts must pick which viruses to include in the vaccine many months in advance in order for vaccine to be produced and delivered on time.”

                    The nurse who was giving the shots at our company one year to me that I could get the flu from the vaccine.

                    How is that inaccurate?Do you even know what a vaccine is?Its a weakened virus(or a part of the virus) designed to make your bodys immune system build defenses against the virus,even when it comes in full force.Now,if the virus was improperly weakened,or your immune system is particularly bad due to some other factor,the vaccine can end up making you sick.Its a long shot though,but shoddy vaccines are not unheard of in the third world countries.

                    Argument: You can get the flu from the vaccine.

                    Counter-argument: “No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness.”

                    All of the counter-arguments are direct quotes from the CDC website quotes I posted. If you want to argue with their facts, feel free to do so, but I’m quite satisfied that their expertise is much greater than yours, so don’t expect me to respond. (Note further that I have, from the beginning, been arguing from the perspective of someone living in the US. I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter to me, what the truth of other countries is, as it’s not relevant to my (or presumably Shamus’) decisions.) If you feel I have misrepresented your arguments, then please clarify them, but don’t bother moving the goalposts, as I was only interested in addressing your initial false statements.


                    Is there some reason you use your own personal punctuation scheme?

                    Yes.Its easier for me to type that way.

                    I guess we’re lucky that your need for comfort doesn’t extend further into your audience’s. (Or, alternatively, you are, in that people find it worth the extra effort to read what you type.) I’m not sure why manipulating the space bar causes problems only at the ends of clauses, though? Or maybe you tried leaving spaces out altogether, and no one read anything anymore?

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Counter-argument: “Flu viruses are constantly changing (called “antigenic drift”) ““ they can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season.”

                      Key word: CAN.CAN is not the same as ALWAYS,or MUST,or INEVITABLY.Again,most results show that people who did not get a flu shot in the current or previous season are more likely to get the flu.Bolded part means that getting the resistance/immunity in the previous season can protect you during the current season.Regardless of how you got it,from a live virus or from a vaccine.

                      This of course depends on where you live.A large transit hub is more likely to have various strains all the time,while an isolated rural area is likely will have the same strain for years.

                      Counter-argument: “Experts must pick which viruses to include in the vaccine many months in advance in order for vaccine to be produced and delivered on time.”

                      *sigh*Whats the point of linking something if you havent even read it?No,they have to pick viruses months in advance in order for LARGE ENOUGH QUANTITIES to be produced and delivered on time.Also,many manufacturers start growing various strains even before who decides on what should go into which country.This means that many manufacturers can have some strains ready to release a new improved batch of vaccines mid season if need be.

                      Counter-argument: “No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness.”

                      You mean how you cannot be poisoned by tylenol?I mean come on,you yourself brought up that example.Yet here you are believing how flu vaccine manufacturers are NEVER EVER NOT IN A MILLION YEARS subject to human error/malice.You cannot be that naive,yet here you continue arguing against your own example just to prove me wrong.

                    2. Ninety-Three says:

                      You keep asserting that your information is correct, without providing evidence, and you’re avoiding the question “I'm wondering where you came by this information?” I’m not asking for a peer-reviewed study (though with you making such absolute statements, it would be nice), but I’m curious how you came to conclude that “the flu shots are only effective if you did not have the flu last time it was around,or if you managed to avoid it during the peak of this season.”

                      Now since a lot of the above argument seems to be over the definition of “can”, I’ll grant that flu shots are more effective if you didn’t have the flu previously, but you said “are only effective” full stop, implying they otherwise have a zero or near-zero level of effectiveness. Even for a fairly remote area, there is a nontrivial chance that a new strain of the flu will reach the region in a year, and a nontrivial chance that the strain will be addressed by that year’s vaccine, which would result in the vaccine having some degree of effectiveness regardless of whether or not someone caught last year’s flu.

                      Why do you believe that having contracted a previous strain of the flu makes a flu vaccine not just less effective, but completely ineffective?

                    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      and you're avoiding the question “I'm wondering where you came by this information?”

                      I dont.I gave the relevant quotes from the very site that was linked (cdc).

                      Even for a fairly remote area, there is a nontrivial chance that a new strain of the flu will reach the region in a year, and a nontrivial chance that the strain will be addressed by that year's vaccine, which would result in the vaccine having some degree of effectiveness regardless of whether or not someone caught last year's flu.

                      Fair enough.Though I did so informally in my other comments(specifically the one about the place you live in),Ill formally revise my initial statement to “Flu shots are mostly effective if you havent contracted the flu last season or if you managed to avoid it during this season”.

  18. Christopher says:

    Topic of conversation: What do you do for comfort and stimulus when sick?

    I take whatever medication is appropriate, lie down on a bed somewhere as dark and cool as possible and try to stay away from chatting and things I like on the internet. I want to be comforted by things I like and people I like, but when I’m sick… I don’t know how this is for everyone else, but in my case it’s like everything about me that’s pleasant, polite and nice just vanishes in the face of illness. When the constant stimulus I’m getting is pain and discomfort, I can’t enjoy the stuff I normally do, and I get irrationally angry at everything. In that situation, it’s better to stay away from what I love so I don’t taint it with bad behavior or associate it with memories of being sick.

    Games are usually a tall order. Youtube videos work.

    Anyway, being sick sucks and I hate it, I’m happy you’re approaching the end of it. If you don’t wanna write about the illness for five days straight and need some more content, I think you can get away wih just posting a blog that says “Dark Souls: Discuss” or “Bioware: Discuss” and the comments will take care of that for you.

    1. Destrustor says:

      I don't know how this is for everyone else, but in my case it's like everything about me that's pleasant, polite and nice just vanishes in the face of illness.

      Oh yeah, same. The very first victim of my illnesses is always my reserve of f**ks to give.
      Everything blurs into a fine mist of “Screw that, screw you, screw everything anyone’s ever loved.”

  19. galacticplumber says:

    Step 1: Pick your favorite form of meat-based broth, fruit juice, and approximately all of the water. You’ll be glad you did. Have them on hand and ready to quickly serve.

    Step 2: If you can focus on tasks pick a game, movie, youtube, thing to read, or what the fuck ever else you enjoy doing while confined to a small space without much movement. If you can’t find the most relaxing, soothing music you can and set it to infinite repeat while you sleep. If you have any of those scented comfort sleep masks NOW is the time to use them.

    Step 3: After getting better it is recommended to ensure your sleeping station is in the best shape it can be in if the worst ever happens again. This includes having multiple blankets and a fan for as much temperature control as possible, getting one of those fancy magic pillows from made of science and… I think it was memory foam?, a stock of sleep masks, and if necessary/affordable getting a new mattress if you’ve complaints with the current one.

  20. Traiden says:

    When ever I do get sick I always seek out the comfort of zombie films to watch and train with so that my zombie corpse can have an advantage when I rise up from the dead.

  21. Rayen says:

    Im a pretty big fan of sleep anyway, so when im sick i just indulge myself. I try to get to the store to stock up on soup before symptoms get too bad and then i play the hibernation game. i will wake up, have some soup and water, take medicine(if applicable) then go back to sleep, and try to repeat this process every six hours.

    I have a feelinh this probaby isnt the healthiest option but until i can afford health insurance so i can actuallly see a doctor its worked out. except mono. That fucking sucked and im super happy you an only get it once.

    1. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

      Well sleep is the best cure that isn’t medication that is available so I say that is definitely a good option, although warm lemony salty water with honey in it is good for sore throats as well.

  22. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I actually haven’t gotten that sick since I’ve been in grammar school. The last time I even had to miss work it was just one bad night of throwing up, followed by a couple of days of nausea and mild diarrhea. I was prepared to be laid up a while when I got my wisdom teeth removed, but it turned out to be pretty painless.

  23. Phantos says:

    One time I was so sick, all I could do was sit still while the entire first season of The Cleveland Show played on a nearby tv.

    I don’t think it helped.

  24. Leocruta says:

    It’s been many years since I’ve been really sick, but I do get cluster headaches as a yearly thing. I’ve just recently gotten over this year’s cycle, which had a less number of intense headaches than usual, but they tended to be worse. There was one in particular that was really bad. It lasted 3 hours (as opposed to the other 99%, which last one hour) and while nausea is somewhat common, this time I vomited around the halfway-mark.

    Anyway, generally when I get these things, I’ll just go lie down and wait them out. If the pain is low enough I can put a movie on (unusual), then I’ll pick something good but doesn’t really require me to pay attention. Dredd tends to be my choice. I use it as a way of marking the time till the hour is over. Otherwise, I’m in intense pain and shaking for an hour, till the pain subsides and I fall asleep for another hour. Then I’m just a little uncomfortable for the rest of the day, but I’m not actually incapacitated. Which is nice.

  25. GloatingSwine says:

    We've always referred to the sweating phase as “sweating it out”. I have no idea if there's any medical basis to that description or if it's a bit of Edwardian medical folklore that's hung around into the modern times. But I've always heard people say things like, “Oh good. Your fever broke and you're sweating it out. Get all those nasty germs out of your system. You'll be able to go to school tomorrow!”

    Some infections multiply less well at higher temperatures, which is where the fever comes in. Your body temperature rises to try and inhibit the nasty and finish it off faster.

  26. Aanok says:

    Glad to hear it’s over, that sounded like an horrible ordeal.

    When I’m sick, If I’m not running a high fever I’ll stay at the computer for a while, then eventually lay down. If the fever is high enough I’ll just keep in bed all the time. In bed I’ll stick to easy activities, mostly reading or listening to radioplays or music. Listening to things with your eyes closed is pretty restful, you just have to concentrate on the sounds and that’s about as good as you can manage in many cases. Sleeping a lot will be inevitable (and good).

  27. Daimbert says:

    When I’m sick, in general, I like to throw a DVD on or throw something on to watch that has longer run time and is something I’ve already seen or don’t care about paying attention to. So I’ve done the Extended Versions of the Lord of the Rings and the A-Team once. They aren’t on for me to actually watch. They’re just there for me to have something to roughly look at/listen to in between the times I fall asleep. Repeat for the entire day.

    Sports work well for that as well if there’s anything on.

    The worst I had recently was a bad cold that went around that my father also had that was pretty much standard cold symptoms EXCEPT that it also gave the chills — I was cold and even shivering all of the time, even at work — and drained all of your energy. And I was insanely busy at work at the time, working late and weekends, and so I pushed on a Friday to get one problem fixed, fixed it at about noon, went home and didn’t come in to work on the Saturday. Went back in on Sunday.

  28. Philadelphus says:

    The idea of giving names to flu strains reminded of the “Spanish flu” that killed more people than World War I, around and during World War I.

    I caught a particularly virulent version of the flu almost exactly one year ago now that had a really dirty trick in its arsenal: in addition to all the usual symptoms of chills, fever, throat pain, headache, general malaise, etc., it also kept me awake for over 48 hours straight during the middle of it. Not from the pain, mind you, I just…couldn’t fall asleep, despite being exhausted. It was weird. I spent two nights in a row lying in bed desperately wishing I could fall asleep because I was incredibly tired, it would probably be helpful, and I could spend some time in blissful unconsciousness, but nope.

    On the topic of conversation, regarding your graph there, illness for me is more of a step-function; I’m either functioning at 95″“100% (mild cold level), or I’m lying in bed unable to derive comfort from anything except maybe a little light web-browsing on my phone. With the flu last year I spent basically five days sick, and didn’t have the energy to enjoy a game at all the entire time, or anything more strenuous than watching a few YouTube videos.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      This is why flu is a killer.
      Also why anyone who has said they were ill with “a touch of the flu” has clearly never actually had the flu. A really bad cold maybe (they can get pretty bad), but definitely not the flu.
      I had it over Christmas once, that wasn’t fun.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        I used to wonder how so many people could die of the flu, actually. I don’t wonder any more.

  29. Ardyvee says:

    That sucks. Glad you are better now.

    When I go down hard, I usually just go for a youtube video, twitch or just music while laying down. In particular, listening to Beagle’s silly antics in XCom is pretty alright. Otherwise, an actual-play show, podcasts, what have you. A play of Red Extensions of Me, by The Flashbulb can’t hurt, or even’s Lush Radion station.

    If I haven’t gone down hard, I pretty much just carry on as usual, playing whatever game I feel like playing.

  30. PizzaRollExpert says:

    I’m not a doctor or biologist, but from what I understand fever is a way for your body to fight the infection. When your fever goes down it’s because your body thinks that you are getting better and that it doesn’t have to try as hard to keep the infection at bay. Basically, the causality of sweat it out is wrong – you are sweating because you are getting better, not the other way around.

  31. Mako says:

    Risky as home methods are, here’s mine (especially for poisonings or stomach bugs):
    1. put some relaxing music on repeat.
    2. Make sure the place one wants to be has some drink (both tap water and coca-cola, preferably)
    3. Make a glass of tea, no sugar.
    4. add 100 mililiters of distilled spirit and a teaspoon of pepper to it.
    5. drink while hot (not warm, hot).
    6. cover yourself with 2-3 blankets.
    7. sleep. the longer, the better.

  32. Zak McKracken says:

    What I usually do is lie on the couch under a blanket and do not much, while drinking tea.
    I might try and watch some movie or play a game, but usually I’ll just browse the web a bit. Or I might just catch up with that 30 hour backlog of podcasts on my phone. Eyes closed, cup of tea … I think I’d skip the ones where you need to think, though.

    The golden rule is that I must not do any physical or mental activities that seem in any way like an effort. And I must stay warm. Sweating is fine but not mandatory, being cold is not. And did I mention tea? Tea and sleep.

    That is the usual stuff. However, last time I had fever it got a bit worse (just the fever — 40°C, all else wasn’t too bad) and so for some reason I started writing lyrics for a song. The first time I have ever done such a thing. While crying. For no apparent reason. I don’t think any flu has ever done that to me…

  33. Son of Valhalla says:

    Three words:
    Being sick sucks.

    Five words:
    Being really sick is worse.

    Seven words:
    Sickness should go away and die someday.

  34. When I’m sick I generally find some 18th or 19th century author whose entire corpus is available for 3.99 on Kindle, download it, and read one book after another until I’m better.

    Or sleep. I have an amazing ability to sleep virtually endlessly while sick.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I got the entire works of Lovecraft from Amazon for $1.

  35. Allen says:

    For comfort, I usually mainline pineapple juice for Vitamin C (mixed with ginger ale to help upset stomachs, or just to stretch out the juice).

    Last time I was dog sick, I ended up watching the entire first season of The Genius in subtitles.

  36. ehlijen says:

    I’m sorry to hear that, and I wish everyone a full and speedy recovery!

    It’ll be a shame to have reduced content on the blog from the witty pen that created it, but it doesn’t compare to the pain of being sick, of course. Seriously, all the best.

  37. Mephane says:

    What do you do for comfort and stimulus when sick?

    I am one of those lucky people who get 1-2 weeks of a strong but common cold each year, but usually nothing else. (I can’t remember ever having the flu in my life.) This yearly cold comes at a random time (once I had it in the summer) and at its height what I do is to keep a wet washcloth at hand at all times; for at random intervals the eyes start to water heavily and the nose starts to sting and itch from somewhere deeper inside just between the eyes, and the only thing that seems to sooth this effect is indeed a piece of wet cloth on the nose and closed eyes.

    I usually am still able to function during those 1-2 weeks, I just have to make sure I can interrupt whatever I am doing to grab the washcloth immediately when it happens. So I usually spend my time gaming, but just avoiding the stuff you cannot pause at any moment (i.e. multiplayer).

  38. Primogenitor says:

    Last winter, I had cancer (and chemotherapy, which is the really sucky part).

    This winter, I had flu.

    The flu was worse.

    (okay, so I had testicular cancer, which is commonest in men 20-40 and really treatable (if you get a doctor while its still in your testicle and hasn’t spread to your lungs) so it was very “mild” on the cancer scale – but still, the flu this year was worse, and I had the flu vaccine too, so I would say that Bollypox has worse symptoms than cancer)

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      We really should engineer better damage detection and defense mechanisms for our bodies.This random flinging of stuff until one of them proves adequate enough has some really weird results.

  39. Jarenth says:

    When I was younger (middle 10s, think like 13-16) I’d occasionally fall sick with what I came to call My Stomach Is Hurting And I Don’t Understand What’s Up. Probably stomach flu, maybe food poisoning, I don’t know. It was consistent enough that I saw it as a single thing, but I guess there’s plenty of diseases where the core symptoms are ‘vomiting up solid foods for a day or so’ and ‘delirious nightmare dreaming’.

    Anyway! For whatever reason, the one thing that would *without fail* make me feel better was sleeping on the couch on the living room. Not because it was particularly comfortable, not because there was anything wrong with my room, not even to sneak in midnight TV or whatever. I’d just… lie awake in bed in my room, miserably trying to will myself to sleep. Then I’d haul my pillow and blanket downstairs, plop down on the couch there, and fall asleep within minutes.

    I think a part of it is that I hate to be alone while sick, so lying alone in my room felt like being entombed in a coffin of sick. But beyond that… to this day I have no idea what made that couch as good to Sleep It Off on as it was.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      For me, it’s because pillows are so hard to find, which are the correct thickness, springiness[1], and firmness[2]. I’ve got something like < 5% success rate with the commonly sold pillows, and < 10% with the expensive memory foam ones. Couches on the other hand, seem to be something like 50% success rate, so I can often sleep much easier on them than my bed. :)

      [1] Almost zero for me; Otherwise it feels like the thing is pushing back on my head constantly.

      [2] Fairly firm, but not the firmest they sell. There's still some stuff that feels like bricks to me, but somebody must find comfortable. :)

      1. Syal says:

        I’ve found that propping both my head and feet up on couch armrests is often more comfortable than a bed, especially when sick.

  40. Neko says:

    When I’m sick, I mix up a cocktail of Vodka and Ribena, and binge watch Voyager.

    1. baseless_research says:

      waitwaitwait – star trek voyager? Why would you do that to yourself? Traumatize the illness away?

  41. Zekiel says:

    Ancedotally it feels like seasonal illnesses in the UK (where I live) are worse this year than usual. That’s certainly the case in my family (where we’ve had a miserable illness that wasn’t as bad as what Shamus describes) and people we’re in contact with (friends, work colleagues etc).

    I heard it explained as: the mild winter means that leaf mold doesn’t get killed off and that incubates disease. So you actually want a serious* winter for general health, which is the opposite of what I’d expect. (Of course, serious winters are really not a good thing for people with inadequate home heating, or for homeless people.)

    I’d be interested to know if this explanation is true or not!

    *Serious in this case means serious-for-the-UK, not serious-for-Canada or the like.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      This is the first time I hear about the “real winter” thing. Not sure if there’s any credence to it. Flu is usually transmitted in badly ventilated but well-heated and populated rooms.

      I have, however, noticed more than a few people who were down with the flu this season, where the thing just took forever, and where the fever appeared to go away, then came back, a few times.
      I usually attribute this to people who think they’re almost okay when they’re not, and get out of bed and back to work too early. However, this time it happened to people who don’t usually fall for that trap. So there might be something particular about this season’s strain of flu.

      That said, flu can be quite individual, anyway. Listened to a radio documentary some time ago about a guy who lost his sense of touch and the spatial coordination of his limbs* to a flu infection, just like that. Yes, that’s a thing humans have.

      * There’s a word for it which I forgot. It’s really the snese that lets you wake up in the morning and know what position your legs/arms are in, without looking. And in which direction you have to move your arm and legs in order to get them where you need to sit up. That is a rather specific thing to attack for a virus.

      1. Shamus says:

        The word is “proprioception”.

        I love that word. It’s ridiculous that people were still teaching kids “the 5 senses” when I was young, when a more accurate understanding had been around for decades. (Or even centuries. Proprioception kinda back to the 1500s.)

        1. Zak McKracken says:

          Wow, you can write long words again! I hope that means you’re getting better.

        2. galacticplumber says:

          To be fair simpler explanations DO have value in the sense of easier, less overwhelming stimuli that a young mind can learn more readily. For example do you really wanna try teaching eight year olds general relativity, much less quantum mechanics, when many high school students have trouble with Newtonian physics?

          1. Zak McKracken says:

            The thing is this: General relativity is an extension of special relativity, and that’s an extension of Newtonian mechanics. So of course you start with the simple thing, and at a later point you expand what happens if anyone tries to go near the speed of light and so on. Completely fine, you’ve got to start somewhere.

            This system works in pretty much any topic. The incompleteness theorems guarantee that no mathematical system can ever be complete, so any finite explanation must have some loose ends. They cannot be avoided.

            Now, I am a big believer in simplifying things but without falsifying. You should try to tuck the loose ends away nicely, but you should never try to cover them with lies.

            Back to the “5 senses”: Of course you could argue that sense of heat and pain is somehow a subset of “touch”, and probably get away with it, but proprioception is not a subset of any of the other senses. Also missing: Your sense of up and down. Pretty fundamental thing, and it’s not hard to explain what it does, either (as opposed to how it works, but that goes for all the senses). Which means that speaking of “The 5 senses” is not just simplified, it’s also implying a falsehood (which is that that’s all there is).
            How to do better: I think there’s a pretty good case for either telling children about 7 (8? 9?…no idea, actually) senses — I mean 5 or 8, how much more difficult is that? Or you summarize them into groups, then later take those groups apart.
            Or: You divide them into Internal vs. external, then explain the 5 external senses (vision, smell, touch, hearing, taste), and leave the internal ones for later (pain, balance, proprioception, hunger, thirst …).
            You could also just explan “the 5 main senses”, although that’s relatively close to cheating, and it introduces some inaccuracy, because then you can start arguing about the importance of each of them.

            In either case, there’s nothing to prevent one from starting simple without implying any false statement. I know that lots of people seem to dislike this method but I for my part think that no lesson looses appeal by ending in “to be continued…”

          2. Groo says:

            You should take a look at the “old” text books then. I have my Grandfathers textbooks from when he was in grade school which would be the early 1930’s.

            His grade 5 math text teaches Trigonometry and Algebra.

            The algebra is not introductory linear equations like 1+x = 9 either. It was solving quadratic, multi-variable polynomial functions like
            X^2 + (a+b)X – (ab)=0

            Sure it’s a fairly straight forward quadratic but in GRADE 5, these were kids who were 10 and 11 years old. Hell in Grade 5 I think my kids are just getting into fractions.

            It’s crazy what they were capable of learning back then, I am not sure you could hit 8 year olds with it, but if we were teaching to the standards my Grandfather had as a student then I see no reason why you couldn’t be hitting 13-14 year olds with Newtonian Physics at a minimum. I am sure that many could hit quantum mechanics or at least advanced calculus by graduation. My highschool (late 80’s early 90’s) offered exactly this in grades 11 and 12. Basically pass those 2 years and you have already completed the first two years of university calc so it IS possible we just need to get it to them earlier IMHO.

            My Grandfather never finished grade 7 due to his Dad dying and him needing to work to support the family but I remember him helping me when I was working with math as a teenager and it was all things he learned when he was in school. I can confidently say he knew more math with his grade 7 equation than at least half my graduating class did (probably more) with their diploma’s

            1. Shamus says:

              A possibly interesting detail:

              Back in those days, only a minority of people stayed in school. You were free to exit school at pretty much any time. And if you were a semi-literate kid with no patience for book knowledge, that was fine. You could still get a job.

              But now everyone is expected to complete school and even when you do, it’s STILL difficult to get a job.

              School used to be aimed at the best*, because those are the only folks who went. But now they’re expected to also teach the lowest common denominator. In the old days, everyone in school wanted to be there, which means they were usually inclined towards academic pursuits. Now they’re serving people who don’t want to be there, and might not be particularly good at it.

              * Best at schoolwork, anyway. Lots of bright kids skipped school and did brilliant work with their hands.

              1. galacticplumber says:

                And THIS right here is precisely why the prospect of AI getting advanced enough to serve the role of teachers, which is only now starting to look realistically possible, is exciting. The current system of schooling teaches to a standard level. It hinders those above the level, and leaves behind those below it. The reason this is necessary is that you only have so many teachers, and must effectively teach the largest group of people possible with the time and resources given. This becomes a lot less of a problem if you automate that work to a high degree of quality.

            2. Daemian Lucifer says:

              “Back in those days”,or “from another country”.I was introduced to quadratics when I was 13.Also,the same time we got a new subject in school:Physics,which did teach us newtonian laws in the second semester(first was units and unit transformations).

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      Just read a (German) Article saying that this season we have more infections, and they last longer because this year’s viros is from a new strain for which nobody had antibodies before the breakout. Usually there will be some previous one that was similar, so some people will be immune.

      Not sure if that explains only the larger number of infections (at least in Germany it’s roughly twice last year’s numbers but all of Europe has more cases) or also my observation that it seems to take longer to get rid of it (which might as well just be coincidence)

  42. Cybron says:

    When I’m sick I try to sleep and engross myself in my weird fever dreams. I almost never remember my dreams when I’m not sick, and my dreams when sick are super weird, so they usually are sufficiently entertaining. I still remember this one time I got sick in college and dreamed of playing a first person greyscale morbid Chrono Trigger-esque JRPG in first person set inside my childhood home.

  43. You all got it? Are you sure the water supply (tap or bottle) wasn’t contaminated for a short while?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Then they would all get it the same day,not sequentially.Its common for a family that lives in the same house/apartment to get the same illness like that.

  44. Cilvre says:

    i tend to read or watch shows, and if i get really sick i listen to audio shows or light music while trying to pass out.

  45. Paul Spooner says:

    Oh man, when I get super sick I give tearful goodbyes to my wife and children while lying in bed hoping to die. You were taking care of other people at the same time? Mad props.

  46. Dreadjaws says:

    “I haven't done that thing you're waiting for.”

    Sniff… *goes back to waiting for someone else to write that Lord of the Rings/Star Trek fanfiction*

  47. General Karthos says:

    I remember in college having strep throat the same time my roommate had bronchitis. My university was very small. So small in fact that there was no medical assistance available after 5:00 P.M. or on weekends. I finally decided I was sick close to 5:00 on Friday, and walked to the medical center to find they had closed up shop at least fifteen minutes early.

    By Sunday, as I tried to fall asleep against the random, hacking coughing of my roommate, I wanted to die. I didn’t know what I had, but it was miserable, because of his coughing, I hadn’t had solid sleep in two days, I was starting to hallucinate, and it hurt to breathe or drink water.

    Monday first thing I dragged myself to the medical center and they diagnosed me with strep throat. They gave me antibiotics and they were like a miracle from God. I took them and my symptoms would go away within an hour and stay away for about twelve hours, long enough to get some sleep. Plus I got out of a week and a half of classes with a signed note, but Friday through Sunday was absolutely the most miserable I have ever been.

    As to eye pain…. I had an illness a few months back where it felt like my eyes were being pressed forward out of my skull, like if I opened my eyes too widely, they’d pop out, and doing ANYTHING with them was painful. And a dull unending throb even when they were closed. I determined after a while it had to be sinus related and cured it with an old home remedy of mine. (A spoonful of “Beaver” brand extra-hot horseradish. Agonizingly painful to the point of screaming [except it’s so painful you can’t scream] but it scours your sinuses clean, and you can feel it doing so, hence the pain.)

  48. Astograph says:

    Having to tough out illnesses is really not normal for a First World country. Hell, it’s not even normal in Third World countries. I hope you and your family are alright and stay that way.

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