DR. HOOK- Flu season: Stay home if you're infected

Hypocrisy is as prevalent as all the Starbucks stores. (I think there are Starbucks inside Starbucks– is that a double shot?) I was just driving behind a car plastered with so many pro-USA stickers it looked like tattoos on rocker Tommy Lee. Then somewhere in the collage of pro-USA stickers I saw, "Hyundai." 

 Even doctors are hypocritical (we take the Hippocratic Oath!). We tell our patients to get rest when they're sick, but when it comes to our own– you better get your doctor derriere into work! When I was a medical resident working in the ICU (intensive care unit), I came down with influenza (aka the flu).

I was sicker than the anorexic, fainting models on Project Runway, so I called my chief resident the morning I woke up with a 104-degree temperature, and he said, "Take some Tylenol and come in. You got your flu shot, didn't you?" My head hurt so badly that I wanted to rip off my head more than his at the time. I was basically bed-ridden with extreme fatigue, body aches, and no desire to eat. I stayed home and slept for 24 hours.

 The next day I still couldn't come in, and now my chief resident was really mad at me. "Can't you soak yourself in an ice bath in between patients?" (No, he didn't say that, but hey– artistic expression here.) On the third day, I had a fever of 103-plus a very sore throat and a stuffy, runny nose. However, my chief resident guilted me in, so I went to work– wearing a face mask in an attempt to prevent infecting the very sick patients in the ICU. Within five minutes of being in the unit, my attending physician saw me sweating heavier than Woody Allen at an orphanage, and told me to go home. Can we say that the flu stinks?

 Influenza has been documented by the CDC on the East Coast, so everyone run! Every year the world experiences outbreaks here and there of influenza– the virus that causes the flu. Millions and millions of people have died from the flu over the course of time– especially during three major pandemics in the 20th century. 

 The flu usually comes from November to March, and it causes thousands of missed work days. Influenza is spread by aerosolized particles that come out from an infected person's coughing, sneezing, or even talking. After being infected by influenza, symptoms occur within 24-48 hours. And, oh boy, the symptoms hit a person like a ton of bricks. Most people can tell you the very moment they came down with the flu because of a fever, headache, feeling poorly, loss of appetite, and fatigue that throw a person in bed.

 Overall, cold symptoms like a stuffy, runny nose, sore throat, and cough don't occur on the first day of the flu. So when someone calls saying, "I think I have the flu because I have a scratchy throat and nasal congestion that just started yesterday," without any of the wham-bam-dam symptoms first, I don't think it's the flu.

 The flu usually improves by day five of symptoms because the immune system attacks those nasty Miss Jackson viruses. However, for those more at risk for influenza complications, pneumonia, neurological complications, muscle breakdown, and even kidney failure can occur. Those at risk include people with diabetes, asthma, COPD, kidney failure, HIV, cancer, and the elderly.

 I try to practice what I preach and not be a hypocrite– but I'm not perfect. If I ever catch the flu again, I'm not going to work– though I might try to sneeze on my old chief resident.