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Jack Simpson - Battling an unwelcome visitor

Remember last year when it was so difficult to locate a flu shot? Everywhere folks went for awhile, all they found was a brick wall. The family doctor had no vaccine. The local health department had a few shots and people ended up standing in long lines at their local grocery store.

This year, vaccines were more available, but the formula included influenza A and B. The flu has currently hit nearly every state. It is described as H3N2, or Brisbane strain. Bad news! This strain is not in the current vaccine and many people are finding themselves in what has been described as "a nasty flu season." Some folks have died from complications of the flu.

Being sick for over a week, I don't know if I had a bad cold or this new strain of flu. Whatever I have is very distasteful and not like any cold I ever had. I wouldn't wish this illness on my worst enemy (if I had a worst enemy). Yes, I had the flu shot, but I'm told it won't help Brisbane-type flu; and, if it does, it may only make the symptoms milder.

Like many in the community, I went to see the family doctor who prescribed medications. As I examined the medicine chest in the bathroom this morning, I felt like I might be in a local drug store. There were bottles of vitamins, antibiotics, Nasacort nasal spray, Mucinex DM, Chloraseptic sore throat lozenges, cough syrups, Bufferin, Vicks and the like. I guess I could have followed the advertisements on television and "asked my doctor" if any more drugs would help me rid myself of this illness. Frankly, I feel this "flu" will leave when it is ready and no amount of pills seems to be helping it along.

OK, so I am also drinking plenty of fruit juices, ginger ale and water ... and, I am eating yogurt! Still, I have a cough, sore throat and a runny nose.

My spouse offers encouragement, but warns that antibiotics fight bacteria and not viruses, so I am not to expect miracles. And, I don't! Pardon me while I cough and sneeze and pray to get over this icky mess I've had now for more than a week.

There is one consolation. I know I'm not alone. People across the nation have contracted a similar illness. They, like me, are seeking relief. They are popping cough drops, using up boxes of Puffs or Kleenex tissues, taking prescribed medications, and even over-the-counter-remedies, hoping for a magic cure. They are sipping juices, resting, washing their hands frequently, and probably staying at home so as not to infect their co-workers. Good luck to each and everyone. "Ah-Choo." Pardon me!

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.