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Possumhaw: Flu is nothing to sneeze about


Shannon Bardwell

Shannon Bardwell



Shannon Bardwell



Sam looked pitiful, with sad eyes peering over the face mask. As soon as the doctor verified the flu diagnosis on went the mask. I guess it's more expedient to mask the patient rather than the doctor, nurses and staff. I was sort of wishing they'd send a few extras home for the caretaker.  


"You can take either or both of these prescriptions, but neither one will probably do any good. You'll feel better in about seven days," the doctor said. 


Sam shuffled out of the clinic and slid into the car. "I hope you don't get it," he said. 


"I don't think I will. I took the flu shot." 


"I didn't know that," he said. 


"I always do." 


"I didn't know that." 


The doctor said three locals, in their 30s, with no health complications, had died with the flu. She said don't mess around with the flu because it could go into pneumonia. 


"If you get worse, come back," she said. 


Pneumonia always makes me think of my seventh-grade English teacher. She asked the class, "What does pneumonia start with?" 


I rarely raised my hand in class but that time I did, "Mine started with a cold." 


The teacher said, "Pneumonia starts with a 'P.'" 


That was about the last time I ever raised my hand in class.  


At the clinic the receptionist handed us paperwork, but Sam was sliding down in his chair and hugging his coat. I fished around in my purse for a pen. 


The receptionist offered a one. 


"I'm sorry. I can't use that one, sick people have used it." 


She agreed. I noticed the staff stayed behind Plexiglas and talked through little holes while I was out there with sick people. 


I navigated through Sam's questionnaire. I had his symptoms down pat: chills, fever, aches, congestion and stuffy head. The previous night I used WebMD and diagnosed Sam with chronic sinusitis and a bacterial infection. We'd get some antibiotics.  


The pretty nurse called Sam to the back and swabbed his nose. I stayed with the sick people. Actually there was only one other sick person and one other caretaker that had brought in the sick person. 


The sick girl was beautiful; her skin was the color of pure chocolate milk. I heard the receptionist call her Jasmine.  


Jasmine was wearing pajama pants, an oversized MSU shirt, a camo jacket and Ugg boots. She carried a designer handbag. Her hair was messy in a beautiful sort of way. Even sick and dressed in PJs Jasmine exuded confidence and class. She used her smartphone to call her mother for insurance information. OK, that's a good reason to stay connected. 


She sat across from me and looked my way. I know you're sick, but you are beautiful," I told her. 


She smiled, talked a little, then folded into her fleece jacket and closed her eyes. I've been wrong before, but I think Jasmine had the flu.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.



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