What's your game plan for the annual flu season?

A couple of weeks ago the ‘flu shot’ reminder letter arrived from my family physician.  It announced the dates and times for receiving the annual flu shot and advocated that all ‘seniors’ should receive the shot to help ward off the flu.

No debate with myself on this issue — I always get the flu shot.  Most years that means no sickness although I do get a cold occasionally.

As I drove to the clinic, I thought about how people react to sickness.  I also remembered how much I hated being sick.  Nobody is at their best when ill but I’ve noticed some common styles of behaviour.

  • Toughing it out. There are those who just ‘tough it out’ continuing to work, exercise, and attend various events despite fevers, stomach cramps and headache.  Copious amounts of over the counter medications are consumed.  They are miserable and they don’t seem to care that they are spreading their germs to everyone nearby.
  • Resting. For many people getting the flu means a few days in bed — sleeping, resting, drinking fluids and eating chicken soup.  They usually take the illness in stride and are quickly back to their normal pace.
  • Wallowing in illness. Other people wallow in illness and count every muscle that aches complaining to whomever will listen including their pets.  These ‘poor me’ types generally don’t get better any slower or any faster — just with more agony for themselves and for those who live with them.
  • Faking Illness to avoid work. Some people use any minor ache or sniffle to take a few sick days away from work. When I worked as a manager, I could name these people and predict that there would be absences every month during the flu season as they viewed their paid sick time as an entitlement.  One person once told me that she used the time to clean her house and to catch up on those home duties that she did not have time to do with her office schedule!
  • Making unnecessary visits to physicians. Sickness — even minor ailments — for some means a visit to their doctor especially in Canada where medicare covers the cost.  These people are hyper-vigilant about their health and regard even a slight illness as catastrophic.  They over-react causing unnecessary distress and creating a burden for the health care system.

The postworksavvy person knows that illness will happen from time to time.  Most of us have lived long enough to know that minor illnesses such as the winter flu will happen occasionally.  If we get sick, we cope.  If it is serious, we consult a physician. If the illness can be prevented, we’ll act to prevent it from happening.

Protecting good health means flu shots and other immunizations. It means that we need to get enough sleep and rest as our bodies aren’t as robust as they once were.  It also means lots of hand washing, care when touching items (door knobs, grocery cart handles, etc) in public places and ducking away when someone sneezes to avoid germs as much as possible.

Taking the flu shot leaves me with a sore arm for about 24 hours.  It’s a small inconvenience when the alternative could be several days or weeks of serious illness.  Taking the preventative approach is selfish but life is short and I don’t have precious time to waste on illness.  Prevention tops my postworksavvy game plan for getting through the annual flu season without getting sick.


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