I recently received a couple of expressions of concern over my state of mind. When you consider, out of context, some of the recent postings here -- a weird rambling nightmare, a meditation on Beat Generation icons, and two posts where I denounce Estonia's prime minister (for being a communist tool in his youth) and call for Estonia's president to abolish his office, respectively -- I guess such questions may not be unwarranted.
The answer is that I am just fine, thanks.
I did come down with the flu last night, which doesn't exactly make me very well-disposed toward the world.
Increasingly, flu in my case seems to be a mental blip, something that can be read most dramatically on a brain monitor rather than a thermometer.
Sometimes I even think it's a necessary bodily function, getting sick every once in a while.
Anyway, there's an initial acute phase which lasts less than 24 hours. Maybe there's vague, shifting cold-like symptoms. Sometimes there's even a period of creativity, a buzz. You read about people giving the acting performances of their lives whilst flu-ridden. But generally irritability -- irascibility -- sets in quickly. You can only tolerate aches and pains for so long.
Then a days-long recovery period, a depleted fogginess.
I rarely get sick enough to actually be in severe discomfort, so sometimes the main medical question comes down to what type of pain reliever should I use if I am perhaps well enough to have a drink later. (Opt for ibuprofen over paracetamol. You don't want to close off options should there be a dramatic turnaround.)
An Estonian cold cure is tea spiked with vodka. Or Belii Aist brandy, but the less congeners, the better; a clean and pale spirit. This is one of my memories of my first winter after my return to Estonia. Youngish, educated, sniffling people sitting aroud the office nursing jagatees.
I don't really subscribe to dehydrating my body during the active phase of a malady.
I did find yesterday 800 mg of ibuprofen puts a different, almost pleasant spin on the acute phase of flu.
I've always been an aspirin man. It's naturally-occurring, and it seems to me like an intelligent substance that knows where to go in the body when it is needed. Plus the general blood-thinning properties. I've even used it for things like nerves like some people use beta-blockers for stage fright. Yes, I know, the pharmacokinetics are different, but placebo effect mixed with well-being = effective. We were out of aspirin, though, and standing in line at the valveapteek wasn't appealing.
I was a little surprised at being recommended 800 mg of ibuprofen, because I was once prescribed 600 mg after a root canal. I always distrusted ibuprofen's spicy chemical taste and associated it with kidney damage, just as acetaminophen involves playing a game of chance with your liver.
But according to Wikipedia (a great source for dosages and drug interactions, incidentally, being a source that anyone can modify), the toxic dose is an order of magnitude or two higher. Apparently some countries have 800 mg as a standard dose, whereas it's those lily-livered Americans who have 200 mg as the regular dose and only 400 mg as a extra-strength dose. Estonians have taken the middle route, with 400 mg as the basic unit, and many people take two at a time as needed.
Another observation: I've found that having kids exposes you to more illness. So much for the logic that by a certain age, you will have already developed immunity to all of the entry-level bugs your toddler might get from kindergarten. I think I get 75% of Morgan's bugs. Then we incubate these things and pass them back and forth to one another with minor mutations for the next few weeks.
Or maybe four years of dwelling in the centre of a city has weakened or recoded my immune system. Always blame civilization, when I can.