Ugh, the flu. I am recovering from one of the worst bouts of the flu I’ve ever had. The flu is the bane of any freelancer’s existence but I think especially voice actors because we can’t work without our voice. Our voice, our bodies, are our product and when we get sick, our product can’t be delivered.
It started Saturday. My husband and I were spending time with his family. My brother-in-law is leaving the country for work and he will most likely be gone for years. While it’s difficult to say goodbye to him, he’ll be very missed, it was nice to hang with the fam and enjoy some fun together. We went bowling (I am a champion bowler, by the way. Oh yeah, on average, I bowl in the high 60’s. Champion.) and then out to pizza. During dinner, I received a call from my mom. My grandmother, who has been ailing for a couple of years, was in hospice care and not expected to live out the week. While this wasn’t entirely surprising news, it wasn’t easy to hear. I love my grandmother very much and it’s never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. Now I felt very torn. I wanted to enjoy the festivities with my husband’s family, but my mind was strongly occupied by my grandmother. On top of everything, I could feel a bit of a cough coming on, but it felt mild, so I didn’t worry too much about it.
Sunday morning, my husband and I drove to the hospice center to see my grandmother. My cough was getting a little worse so I asked a nurse for a face mask. I looked just like the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy. I felt like an idiot. But it didn’t matter. All that mattered was seeing my grandmother. She was tiny and frail in her bed. Her hands felt strong and weak at the same time. Her skin was thin and dry, like paper. She never woke up the whole time we were there, but my husband thinks she knew we were there. I hope she did. We both spoke to her, said our goodbyes, wished her peace. I read to her for a little while. Her nurses seemed to like her and take good care of her. I could tell she was in good hands. I left believing I would be back in a couple of days.
That night, my cough got worse and Monday even more so. I wasn’t sleeping through the night and I felt bad that I was keeping my husband up too. By Tuesday morning, he insisted that I go to the doctor. I don’t like to bother the doctor for a little thing like a cold, but the OTC cough syrup I was taking was having little to no effect so I decided he was right and made an appointment. I got some cough syrup with codeine (yeah baby!) and hoped I was on my way to recovery. Almost immediately after my doctor visit, where I’d discovered in addition to my cough I had a fever of 101.5°, I started to get a stuffy nose. Awesome. Of all maladies, this is my most dreaded. It got bad fast, too. It wasn’t just a stuffy nose, it was terrible sinus pressure. I kept worrying that my eyeballs were going to pop right out of my head. I turned to my old friend neo-synephrine but it only worked for 2 hours at a time. This meant that I was only sleeping for 2 hours at a time.
Between the cough and now the sinus congestion, I hadn’t slept very much at all in the last 5 days. I think I was starting to get delirious. I started crying out of sheer frustration, which only made the sinus pressure worse. On Thursday, we went back to the doctor who prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection. Awesome. On the way home, we also bought a humidifier in the hopes that it would make sleeping a little easier. I think I asked my husband which day it was three times. You have no idea how debilitating lack of sleep can be. I now see how it can be an effective torture device. My husband put me to bed that afternoon and ran the humidifier. I do think it helped, but it has it’s downside too. It makes everything muggy. It was a little like sleeping in the middle of a swamp.
Wednesday night, my uncle had called me to tell me that my grandmother passed away. On one hand, I’m glad for her. She was in a lot of pain and finally that pain is eased and she is at peace. On the other hand, I had very much wanted to see her again, to hold her hand again and read to her. Of course, I couldn’t have visited her with the flu and a fever. Even if I was feeling up to it, I couldn’t risk getting the other hospice patients sick. But it is a terrible thing to be ill during a family crisis. I felt so useless.
So here we are on Monday. I’m exhausted, but finally starting to feel normal again. I’m still a little congested, but I can breathe and that is absolute bliss. I feel very lucky that I have understanding voiceover clients who were willing to reschedule until I felt better and had recovered my voice. I miss my grandmother very much. I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked but she was a big influence on my life. She was present at my wedding and that is a memory I treasure so deeply.