In retrospect, I should have realized something was wrong on the drive to work. I was wearing a parka over a jacket, and Lowe Alpine leggings under my jeans, and I was still so cold I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. I was running both the heater and the seat heaters in the car. And it was sixty-eight degrees out.
I stayed at work long enough to phone my weekly order in to the wholesaler, then doused everything I'd touched in Lysol and excused myself to go to the doctor's office. It turns out I was running a fever of 103.6, with a resting pulse rate of 112 bpm. Festive. Yup, it was the flu. I took my prescriptions for Tamiflu and Pseudoephedrine/Guaifenesin to the grocery store to get them filled, stocked up on Gatorade and 7-Up Plus, and... and... I can't even remember which route I drove to get home. Things were looking pretty grim for the home team.
Bear in mind that I felt that way after being doped to the gills on Dayquil and aspirin. That I'd been able to keep myself hydrated thanks to a plentiful supply of Gatorade. That I could keep myself fed with little effort, and travel via automobile. That my house was heated by electricity and propane.
Now imagine the clock being set back eighty-eight years to 1918. Would I have had the strength to pump a well? Saddle a horse? Chop firewood? Walk to market to get food? How bad would I have felt without the over-the-counter drugs I'd already taken? Little wonder that an influenza pandemic could have such a devastating effect; it made folks too weak to do the things they needed to do to go on living. Not only that, but there are all the infections that tag along with the flu; in those pre-antibiotics days, pneumonia was as good as a death sentence.
Every now and again I'm reminded that the past may be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to get sick there.