4 Steps to Stay Ahead of Flu Season

Jennifer Anand

4 Steps to Stay Ahead of Flu Season

by Jennifer Anand January 22, 2019

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Meet Jen Anand. Every week Jen will be providing a new tip or two on approaching life during and after cancer to help inspire others. Jen was diagnosis with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January 2012, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments for 8 months. Jen is now a survivor and just celebrated her 5 year anniversary this year as cancer free!

So, this article was supposed to be written a few weeks ago…but I got to experience first-hand the debilitating effects of the cold and flu season, and this was delayed! I, like many of you reading this, am immunocompromised. While the rest of the population is wary of the flu season, I am downright terrified.  While my roommate might be sneezing and have a cold for three days, the same cold can leave me flat on my back for at least a week, plus a lingering cough for three weeks, and a general sense of fatigue and unwellness for at least a month. That’s the unfortunate effect that a simple cold is going to have on me! To add to the situation, my lungs work at about 50%, so that doesn’t help the general get-better-quickly-ness.

I’ve gotten pneumonia almost every year since I was first diagnosed- not fun. This year, I felt the first missives of the flu, and took some steps that I have found over the years help me recover in a less-than-a-month time frame.

Step 1 – Sleep: It seems so simple but is so very hard to accomplish! The minute I feel under the weather, I try to get in a nap, or an extra hour of sleep, and I find it does wonders for me.  While it won’t “cure” me, it definitely helps me feel better to go about my daily routine, and I have found it can stave the cold off till the weekend (when I can lie in bed all day.) Our bodies have had a rough time, and any extra rest they can get to focus more energy on fighting germs is always welcome.

Step 2 – Foods: Fluids and vitamins. You probably know the rest. Also, did you know they make Vitamin C gummy slices?! They taste exactly like the gummy orange candies, and I’m a huge fan.

Step 3 – Doctors: I try to avoid the doctors unless I’m dying (literally). But they are there to help me. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes it’s better to go see them earlier and get help then wait till there’s a bigger problem. With this round of sickness, I went to a new doctor I found nearby. I told her how much I hated medication, and she agreed I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to.  However, since I was going to be out of town, she wrote me an antibiotic, that I could fill and have “just in case!”

Step 4 – People: Avoid at all costs. Earlier this month, I had someone I hadn’t seen in a while gave me a big hug, then proceed to tell me that they were just recovering from bronchitis! I had another individual say their doctor thought they had pneumonia, but they didn’t think they did. I just wanted to scream. My body can’t handle a cold like yours, my lungs are too weak to kick a virus. Stay. Away. From. Me. It can seem rude to refuse hugs or handshakes, or contact, but unfortunately that’s a hard lesson I’ve had to learn. I know some people who wear masks to protect themselves. That is incredible and so smart. Myself, however, feel like I’m suffocating in a mask, so avoidance is my good friend. This is my life and I have a hard-enough time at it without including your viruses.

Here’s to hoping you all stay safe and healthy this horrid flu season!