Flu Confessions


On Sunday, March 29th, I felt that little tickle in the back of my throat. You know what I’m talking about. The one that tells you that you are going to get sick and there’s nothing you can do about it. So I did … nothing.

I had a fever the following day. I tried to medicate myself with chicken broth and aspirin. The fever got worse. I was exhausted, my limbs ached and I had a persistent cough that caused me terrible chest pains. For three straight days, I had to go to Pachuca, Hidalgo, two hours from the city, to do research on a project with a tight deadline. I’d come home late afternoon and fall into bed, hoping to sweat out the fever with more aspirin. I couldn’t eat. I lost about five pounds in a week. On Friday, April 3rd, on the way back from Pachuca, I finally went to the doctor.

He told me I had flu and prescribed some pills called Augmentin. I don’t know if they are antibiotic or antiviral, but in a flash they gave me back my appetite. I took them for ten days, after which I felt like my old self. On April 15th, I went to New Orleans to attend a wedding. As various friends who witnessed can attest, I drank like a Cossack and ate mountains of fried food for six days.


When the news came out about the swine flu on April 23, I panicked and returned to the doctor. He said that I “probably” had it and that if I were not careful I could get it again.

The dust seems to have settled. I felt a change in the air last Friday. The vibe in the streets was much calmer. It may have been in part because it was a national holiday but I also think it was due to the fact that there hadn't been an incremental spike in flu cases.

Twenty-two Mexicans -- only about one in a million citizens here in Mexico City -- are confirmed to have died from it. With the exception of a 23-month-old infant in the U.S., no one else in any other country in the world has died from this flu.

Medical authorities have only grudgingly given out the most minute details of those who have perished. We don't know where they lived or what the sanitary conditions of their homes or neighborhoods are like. We don't know if they suffered from any other medical conditions, such as respiratory ailments, that may have facilitated their deaths. Mexico City has recently suffered from a water shortage and we don't know if they had running water.

Click here to read an article by Pablo Ordaz in El País that conjectures that the deaths from the virus simply confirm some terrible home truths about Mexico: If you have money, you survive; if you don't, your chances of death increase.