The Importance of Listening to Your Body During Flu Season

 

It’s January Dukes and you know what that means!!!

 

 

IT'S FLU SEASON and it's really bad this year. As classes start up and people start to get busy, I urge everyone to remember to listen to their body.

 

If you feel off or start to not feel well, give your body plenty of rest, hydrate, see a doctor and slow down; you don’t want to end up severely sick because you failed to take small steps.

 

I made this very mistake and didn’t listen to my body about a year ago. While I did not come down with the flu, I failed to take my body seriously and ended up so sick I was briefly hospitalized.

 

Last year I was a freshman in college and was going through my first ever finals week. I was staying up later than normal, very stressed out, and probably drinking too much caffeine. Early on during the week, I noticed I felt off. It wasn’t major enough to send me to the health center and I just figured it was because I was off of my usual schedule and once I got home I would get better.

 

Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

 

I went home and I continued to feel off. My first mistake was not letting my parents know, especially since I have chronic medical conditions and one functional kidney, and they could be affected by this, but I was worried I’d get a lecture over not taking care of myself enough when I was doing what everyone else was doing during finals week. So, I instead swore up and down to myself that I would drink more water and get more sleep and I’d get better. Four days into winter break, I started having lower back pain one night that didn’t go away. The next day, by coincidence, I had an appointment with my kidney doctor. Within an hour of getting to the doctor’s office, I was on my way to the ER where I spent 6+ hours. I was diagnosed with a kidney infection in my only functioning kidney and at one point had a temperature of 104. I was discharged and went home with antibiotics and a plan to stay in bed.

 

 

About 5 AM the next day, I got up to get some water and passed out in my room.

 

I was taken back to the hospital, this time via an ambulance, and was finally admitted. I spent two nights and three days laying in a hospital bed while all of my friends actually enjoyed their winter break. I was discharged on Christmas Eve and actually started to feel human again, but it didn’t last. Up until then I was on a broad-spectrum antibiotic to kill all types of bacteria, but right before I was discharged they determined what bacteria caused my infection and they switched me to another antibiotic. That antibiotic messed with my gut and led me to spending the night throwing up and feeling terrible. I ended up back in the ER that Christmas morning for a few hours before eventually going back home for good. I spent the rest of my Christmas in my bed feeling like crap and spent the next few days without an appetite on the road to recovery.

 

I’m very lucky because it could have gone worse: I could have developed sepsis (bacteria enters the bloodstream), come down with an additional infection while in the hospital, or had long-term kidney damage as a result of this infection. This all could have been avoided if I had listened to my body and seen a doctor before the infection got really bad. I urge everyone to take the time to listen to their body and slow down and see a doctor if something seems off.

 

ALSO

 

There are lots of steps you can take to prevent yourself from getting the flu.

1.     Wash your hands a lot, especially before you eat

2.     Don’t touch your eye, mouth or nose because those are places where the virus can easily enter

3.     Get your flu shot if you haven’t already

4.     Stay hydrated

5.     Get plenty of sleep

 

Good luck this semester and remember to try stay healthy and listen to your body!!