How To Avoid The Flu In 3 Easy Steps

It’s peak flu season, yay! 

No. Not yay.

For the last five years I’ve either been in the hospital as a patient or an employee, so flu vaccines were part and parcel. One year I actually was sitting at my desk, clacking away, and the nurses came around with a little cart of syringes and gave the office our flu shots — we didn’t even have to stop working! This past fall, when I was still working in a healthcare setting, I got my requisite flu shot and hadn’t really worried all that much about influenza until this week.

Is it just me or is everyone sick right now? 

I’ve only had confirmed influenza once. I was seventeen and it’s the only time in my life I had fever hallucinations. I slept for 36 hours straight but when I was in a semi-conscious state I remember thinking that there were rats everywhere, and being almost convinced that I could hear them as well as see them scurrying across the floor. I also had — and it could have been fever related, I suppose, or hypertension for thinking I was seeing rodents in my bedroom—the worst headache on record. Luckily I’m not a migraine sufferer so I had nothing to compare it too, but at one point in my agony I considered the possibility that I was having an aneurysm.

Anyway, after that experience I really upped my handwashing game and became really aggressive about sneeze shaming people. You know—like, throwing shade at someone who sneezes into their hands? Ew.

Here are my top three tips for avoiding the dreaded flu! Use them wisely.

1. Quit your office job and begin working entirely from home. Since you rarely leave your house, your very own biodome, you are far less likely to be exposed to the virus!

Okay, maybe that one isn’t helpful.

1.5—Don’t get hung up on the whole “eat your weight in Vitamin C to avoid a cold” theory. What studies have shown is that in megadoses (their word, not mine. #Science) Vitamin C can help reduce the symptoms, or at the very least reduce how many days you feel extremely bad, but it hasn’t been proven to prevent you from getting the flu in the first place. Besides, huge doses of Vitamin C can make you sick. 

2. The only hand washing video you ever need. Have you ever wondered if you’re washing your hands in the proper fashion? If you aren’t doing this little song and dance, I’d wager the answer is no. 

3. You don’t have to be a hypochondriac, but use common sense. Think about how the flu virus spreads: people sneezing and coughing, spit landing on surfaces or people who haven’t watched that video and are bad hand washers touching the most commonly touched surfaces. . .keep your work station disinfected. Wipe your phone, purse, backpack, credit and debit cards and your car keys down when you get home. If you haven’t washed your hands in a while, don’t put your fingers in your mouth, your eyes or any other orifice — that’s how the germs get in. And, if you are looking after tiny humans, teach them these essentials early and reinforce them. Hand washing after the bathroom and before meals should be non-negotiable.

Tell them all the cool kids do it.

But, if all your noble efforts to heed my advice fail and you do go down with the flu this year, I’m happy to inform you that the entire series of the 90’s sitcom Friends has arrived on Netflix. I even wrote an article about what the pilot episode would have been like had it taken place in 2015 rather than 1994. There are ten seasons so that ought to keep you occupied for a week or so.


Abby Norman

About Abby Norman

Abby Norman is a Maine writer and journalist. She reports and manages social media for Midcoast Maine’s VStv-88 and is working on a memoir to be released in Spring of 2017. She’s represented by Peter Tallack. She is a 2015 Stanford Medicine X ePatient Scholar, an advocate and speaker on endometriosis, foster care and autism. She is a member in good standing of The Society for Professional Journalists and the National Writer’s Union. She lives in Camden with her dog, Whimsy.