Friday, August 22, 2014

Dear Typhoid Mary: A letter to the student who gave me the flu

Dear Typhoid Mary,

I call you Typhoid Mary because, although she was an asymptomatic carrier, she knowingly continued infecting even after given evidence that she was hurting (even killing) people with her behaviour. You walked into my office and closed the door, knowing you were unwell. You may not have known you were still infectious, but when you sat there and apologised for fanning yourself when you broke out into a sweat from the very effort of sitting, you knew you were bloody unwell. You should have cancelled the appointment.

On Sunday, I started feeling off. Dear Boy pitched a fever up to 40 degrees, and you could have splashed water at him and watched it sizzle on his skin. Did you know that at around 41 degrees, kids brains start to melt down? I had to cancel my student appointments for the next day - at the very least to take Dear Boy to a doctor.

On Monday, his fever was still sitting on 40 and mine was climbing up to 39. I was tired and sore and hot and cold and sweaty and nauseous. Doctor's appointment for two, please. I drove us to the appointment as carefully as I could, and yelled at my boy to please stop talking and asking questions so I could concentrate on getting us there in one piece. It was all down hill from there. When we got home, I sat him in front of the television with a piece of toast, an apple and an apology and crawled into bed. I have realised that I've never in my life had the flu before if this is what it's really like. I've never felt so very unwell, and I say that after bouts of pneumonia and glandular fever and chronic sinusitis and tonsillitis. I phoned Lovely Husband and begged him to come home. And then the rest of the day was spent vomiting up every tiny drop of water I put in my mouth. None of my meds would stay down.

Hey, Typhoid Mary. I got my first ride in an ambulance that night. Exciting, right? Dehydrated and with a migraine sitting right on top of the flu, it was a blast. Lovely Husband doesn't drive, so my brother came with me to the hospital. I'm hoping he doesn't take the flu home to his heavily pregnant wife.

It was expensive too, that ambulance ride. I checked out the website and I might be able to expect a bill of over a thousand dollars. Hopefully medicare and our private health insurance will cover all of that. If it doesn't we're a bit screwed.

It's been an expensive week, really. Our university - the one where you're a student - has casualised my jobs so I don't get paid for missing four days of work this week. But you know who does still get paid? The childcare centre. You're not a parent yet, so you might not realise that we pay over $100 a day for my son's childcare even when he's not there. Childcare workers and ambulance drivers deserve to be paid way more than they get. I hope you vote for different governments at the next state and federal elections, Typhoid Mary.

More than the cost of missing work, I missed my work. This was an important week for me at one of my jobs - with the culmination of months of planning going into several events on Wednesday that I couldn't attend. In foggy haze, I had to forward a million emails and documents onto unsuspecting colleagues so nothing got forgotten. For my teaching job, I had to cancel more appointments for your fellow research students who are still trying to figure out their projects. I know you have a pretty good grasp on yours, but they don't yet. And 130 undergrads missed out on a lecture this week, just a week before their first assignment is due. I'm sure they're not heart broken about it, but they will be when they actually start their essays and realise they don't know their arses from their elbows. Because we meant to be doing distinctions between arses and elbows in class this week.

My inbox is heaving.

Instead of working this week, all I could do was lay in bed and feel wretchedly awful. I dozed and sweated through a dozen DVDs, miserable and lonely for my family in the next room. Lovely Husband stayed home all week looking after our son, who I didn't get to kiss and cuddle and watch grow for days. His immune system is still fighting. He's still not eating. His fever's only just broken. Lovely Husband is going down.

Screw you six ways from Sunday for being so bloody thoughtless, Typhoid Mary. You should have cancelled the appointment.




  1. Oh you pooooooor thing. Germ sharers really get my goat and it should be totally legal to slap them. Hard. I do hope you you are feeling better today hun AND your little guy xx

    1. Thanks, Sonia! We're all much better although I hadn't realised how much it had taken out of me until I pushed Dear Boy up a long low hill in his pram yesterday. I nearly had a heart attack. Normally I power up that sucker.


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