Have you ever had a ‘flu you just can’t shake? I’ve been stuck with one since Christmas Eve. It waxes and wanes in strength – some days I feel relatively normal but on other days I can barely drag myself to the kitchen to get some juice.

The doctor has said I have ‘a non-specific virus’ which I think means she can’t specifically tell me what to do to cure it, so I’ve been trying bed rest and plenty of fluids. I am loose-limbed from spending so much time lying down but when I get up I feel nauseous and light-headed.

I cannot lie on my back for fear of coughing so I lie on my side as if toppled from a basket. I feel like unfolded laundry piled on a bed. Yet I manage to glide in and out of dreams with the fluency of someone sleeping with a clear head.

When I wakened in the afternoon I heard rain falling on the rose bushes outside, so soft, so elegant, it was almost inaudible as the rainfall I sometimes hear in memory. The petals were the colour of the claret my grandfather used to drink in flagons from crystal glasses so huge I thought he must have been a King. Gusts of wind hurled themselves at the roses and the raindrops that had taken shelter on their leaves were sprayed all over, tiny as baby tears.

My son found a little shell in his box of treasures and gave it to me to ‘cheer me up.’ It was entirely white, flawless, smooth as water in glass. ‘It’s a mermaid’s tooth,’ Jake said. ‘It’s magic. It will make you feel better.’

I went back to sleep with the shell under my pillow, remembering the tale my mother used to tell us as children when we lost our baby teeth – that if we slept with a tooth under our pillow we would dream of the man we were going to marry. I still wonder if the tale is true because I never had the courage to try it. I was frightened I would dream of Frankenstein or the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I wakened for the second time in one day after dreaming of mermaids tempting sailors with their smiles and the treasures of the deep. The windows were blurred like a camera lens spattered with water; the rain had filled the room with an earthy freshness. My throat was still sore but I felt better. I felt as if the rope binding me to the bed was fraying. And I wondered if a shell shaped like a mermaid’s tooth had some kind of power of its own.

23 thoughts on “Flu.

  1. What a beautiful writer you are! I was right there with you listening to the rain fall on your roses. Your son sounds wonderful, a lot like my Heather when she was younger. I so enjoy your comments. With me just getting my feet wet as a blogger, I still am not sure where I’m going with it, but I’m giving it a try.

    Hope you’re feeling much better. Smooth magical seashells given in love will do it every time.


  2. My dear, only you could make being ill sound wonderful!

    I do hope you feel better soon. Being sick in the summer is about as unpleasant as it gets.

    It’s funny, you reveled in your rainshower, and I am basking in the bright winter sunlight, the first we’ve had in several days. aaaahhhhh, it’s gooooood.


  3. When I get sick, I get sick for a whole month! And I get sick every single year.

    Did someone say doctor? Uh, who’s that?

    Well, I finally started getting the flu shots. Now, I haven’t been sick for the past four years. πŸ™‚

    Hope you feel better soon.


  4. dang selma,, i sure hope you can shale this soon,,, i always feel when i get something that persists,, that this is it,,, i will never be well again…. it never is… but i can’t help but think it…. tuck the “mermaids tooth” close to your heart and believe… it only works if you believe……


  5. Fairies AND mermaids? Lady, I need some of your magic!

    (Hope you feel better soon. There’s a waxing and waning illness going around here, too. Blarg.)


  6. There’s something almost nostalgic about being cosseted and pampered when you’re ill … something about your post made me think of Grandma’s hot lemon and ginger drink, which was almost worth getting ill for.

    >>Did someone say doctor? Uh, who’s that?<<

    No point in calling in a doctor … he can’t do anything for you a pharmacist can’t.


  7. I agree with Ms Karen, you really do make being ill so wonderful. Your writing is beautiful and quite whimsical at times. Always a joy to read Selma and I do hope you manage to shake this virus soon.


  8. You write so eloquently for someone who feels like a heap of laundry. If was as sick as you are (and I’ve been there before) my blog entries would be more like reading the fine print on a toilet paper package.


  9. COLEEN – I am so delighted you have visited my blog. You have made my day!

    CAROLINE – magic shells are wonderful indeed. I am beginning to feel better.

    KAREN – bright winter sunlight…that conjures up all sorts of wonderful images. There is a crispness to that kind of sunlight that is very cheery. Makes me feel better just thinking about it.

    DAOINE – I am actually feeling better today, particularly with everyone’s kind wishes.

    CHRIS – flu shots sound like a very sensible idea right now. I wonder if they last for a whole year or just for the season you get them in.

    PAISLEY – I know you haven’t been well either. Hope you’re feeling better. I do believe…I really do….

    HEATHER – I’m sure Jeffrey could find you a mermaid’s tooth. Jake has told me that ‘they’re everywhere, you just have to look.’

    TRAVELRAT – hot lemon and ginger works for me, but it’s got to be fresh ginger. My Mum swears on putting garlic in there too but it can make it very bitter.

    CRAFTY GREEN – I am definitely over the worst. Thank you.

    GYPSY – thank you for your kind wishes. I am thrilled you are enjoying reading my funny little bits of writing.

    GROOVY – believe me, a couple of days ago my writing would have been the fine print on a packet of loo paper. I find that describing things takes my mind off illness and so on. I usually feel better afterwards!

    JIMMY – awwww, you are an absolute sweetie!

    POET – it is a killer. I’ve been drinking so many fluids I slosh as I walk. Still, it’s been a great opportunity to catch up on some of my fave movies….


  10. Hey Selma,

    Have you changed your air filter lately? That is the cause of a lot of bronchial infections and other health disorders. I want you to be healthy. Keep living so we can be blessed with your writings πŸ™‚


  11. Flu shots have been very helpful to me. Since taking it yearly for the past four years, it’s been the first four years of my life that I can remember not getting sick at all. I’m now a firm believer in flu shots. October is the ideal time to get it here in the US. Not sure about your neck of the woods. And, since you’ve already caught it, it might be too late now. Maybe in the next season, go for it. πŸ™‚


  12. Chris – I’m going to try it just before our winter. So late May is probably the way to go. Who wants to be sick for an entire month? It’s awful.


  13. This is such good writing:

    “I cannot lie on my back for fear of coughing so I lie on my side as if toppled from a basket. I feel like unfolded laundry piled on a bed.”

    Perfect description of having the flu! And this about drops on the roses is perfect:

    “Gusts of wind hurled themselves at the roses and the raindrops that had taken shelter on their leaves were sprayed all over, tiny as baby tears.”


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