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Nina In New York: Epidemic, Shmepidemic

A woman is given a flu shot. (credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman is given a flu shot. (credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
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By Nina Pajak

For years, I have placed myself squarely in the camp of the hypochondriacs.

You name a symptom and suddenly I’ve got it. Are you feeling achy or do you have a cough? Oh my god, so do I! Do your inner ears burn and does your toe go numb every time you hear a high frequency noise? Wait, you too? Are you distressingly fatigued with either a fever or no fever or a negative fever and a stomach ache or a stomach cramp or maybe just gas or possibly nausea, but also sometimes not nausea? This is too weird to be a coincidence. Something must be going around.

Woody Allen’s recent op-ed in The New York Times on the difference between a hypochondriac and an alarmist was illuminating, and now I realize I am both, which may actually mean I’m still just a plain old hypochondriac.

Be that as it may. I find myself shocked that I am not getting swept up in flu epidemic-mania. It has reached its absolute climax recently, with metro rags and national news alike splashing images of precious flu vaccines alongside headlines like, PHARMACIES HOLDING BACK VACCINES and CUOMO DECLARES PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY and FLU SHOTS DON’T EVEN WORK ANYMORE and also YOU, YOU THERE, MA’AM, YES, YOU IN THE GREEN SWEATER: YOU’RE GOING TO GET THE FLU AND IT IS GOING TO BE THE WORST THING EVER AND MAYBE POSSIBLY YOU COULD DIE. I can’t remember where I saw that last one.

My father has already suggested I only brave the unwashed masses whilst wearing a surgical mask, as though I live in an Asian country. I have declined.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sharing food or getting too huggy with anyone lately, and if anyone so much mentions the fact that they’re not feeling well I make sure to maintain a fifteen foot distance, grimace and tell them to “feel better, but please stay the hell away from me.” I did get my flu shot this year, but I don’t need any sort of superbug attacking me when I’m down and not even permitted to take a Tylenol Cold and Flu. Do you know what it is like to endure a terrible cold/flu without medication? I do. And let’s just say I won’t be converting to become a Christian Scientist anytime soon. I do not possess that sort of fortitude. I do not intend to get sick again until Nyquil is back on my approved list of substances.

That being said, I’m remarkably unscathed by all the fire and brimstone flu talk going around. Perhaps I’ve finally hit my media frenzy ceiling, and can no longer be perturbed by the television anchor who cried wolf. Or smallpox. The numbers don’t lie. It really is worse this year. But I can’t help but snort a little at stories of youth soccer leagues banning high fives. Are they crazy? Am I jaded? Yes. There are only so many hysterias I can face in the course of a lifetime, and I feel I’m way ahead of schedule at the ripe age of 30.

I choose to ignore this one. Which obviously means it will be the one to do me in and prove me a fool. Time will tell. Maybe I’ll just give myself the imaginary flu, that would be the ideal outcome here.