Monday, February 14, 2011


It started Thursday with Big Little Sister - upset stomach, headache, body aches, general lethargy. We canceled all of her classes - Deus Ex Machina came home early to take the other two out to their dance classes.

Big Little Sister was feeling better, albeit a bit weak, on Friday, but Little Fire Faery had picked up right where Big Little Sister left off - upset stomach, headache, body aches, general lethargy. We canceled all of our classes on Friday.

Dance Saturdays are long and physically taxing. Big Little Sister has back-to-back classes starting at 9:00 and ending at 16:30 (with an hour break at lunch time). Starting last Saturday, we have to add two hours of practice for the Spring ballet in which each of the girls has been cast. This week, we opted out of dance classes, and decided we'd just make sure the girls were at ballet practice.

Little Fire Faery was not feeling well, still, and now I was spiking a temperature, too. I quipped that Little Fire Faery and I were competing to see who could get higher. So, we stayed home and Deus Ex Machina took the other two out to play practice.

Sunday, I was still feeling like I'd been run over by a herd of broiler chickens (did anyone see that big chicken?), and I still had a fever. Thankfully, Little Fire Faery was feeling better (though not 100%), and really thankfully, Big Little Sister was feeling MUCH better - enough that she could help us out (and she did! She even made cookies - what a sweetheart ;), because Deus Ex Machina was starting to feel not so great.

Monday, today, I'm still feverish - but am mostly able to function, as long as I move slo-o-w-l-y. Deus Ex Machina, however, has called in sick for only the second time in the fourteen years we have lived here in Maine. Which is to say that if he calls in sick, he must really be sick!

I'm pretty sure it's the flu, which means it's a virus, and unfortunately, for all their life-saving miracles, our esteemed health care professionals have still not figured out how to really deal with viruses. The best they can do, if we come in contact with the virus, is to make us comfortable, and perhaps, give us something that will make it not last quite so long, but we'd still have it.

My question is: is that so bad? Is it so bad that we have the virus?

And please, keep in mind that I'm sitting here, with a temperature of somewhere in the low hundreds, with an annoying, painful and unproductive cough, a headache, and a slightly achy body. I have the flu, and yet, I ask, is it so bad?

Here are some facts about the flu that they, who want you to get a shot, will gloss over:

  • The flu vaccine is developed months before flu season begins. There are three "types" of flu, each of which have several different strains, with Type A having the most variations. The flu vaccine contains some portion of each of these types, but influenza is constantly mutating, and so the chance that the vaccine producers choose the correct form of the virus in their vaccine is actually not so good. There's a better chance that anyone who accepts the vaccination will just not come into contact with the flu. In short, despite what health providers want us to believe, the vaccine really does nothing to keep us healthy ... and then, there's the question of the vaccine adjuvants

  • No one has ever died from the flu virus. What makes the flu fatal are the opportunistic infections that set in when a person's immune system is weakened due to the flu - in particular bacterial pneumonia(and please note that influenza is a virus not a bacterium).

  • The treatment for the flu is rest and fluids, because the biggest one of the biggest dangers associated with flu deaths is dehydration. So, grandma's advice to have lots of chicken soup and hot tea wasn't too far off the mark, was it?

  • Our amazing human bodies are built such that we develop a natural immunity to further exposures to a particular virus. In fact, during the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic it was found that survivors of the 1918 Spanish Flu were immune to the Swine Flu. This is true of most illnesses for which vaccines have been developed, and recent research suggests that many of the vaccines need to be repeated later in life to assure continued immunity. This is not true of natural immunity, which is life-long. In short, once we've kicked this virus and are on our feet again, this flu strain will not make us ill again.

I'm not telling anyone what to do. I am saying that freaking out in response to illness is not the answer. Neither is plying one's already weakened immune system with over-the-counter medications (or depending on vaccinations that may or may not work). The symptoms of fever and coughing, which most people try to "cure" using over-the-counter medications, are the body's natural defense mechanisms against the invading force, and if one takes OTCs, one is, effectively, disarming one's own army.

I don't feel well. In fact, truth be told, I rather feel like crap, but rather than trying to mask the symptoms, I'm trying to provide my body with the tools it needs to fight off the virus. I'm drinking lots of tea - echinacea tea, green tea, other herbal teas. I'm eating homemade chicken soup with lots of garlic.

And I'm resting.

In a lower energy future, we won't have miracle drugs, but we'll still have influenza.

The key to surviving these outbreaks will be knowing what to do ... and as with everything else we should be doing, figuring it out now while we still have a "just in case" support system, should be a priority.

After all, it's true that what doesn't kill us, just makes us stronger ... eventually ;).

Update: I wish I could say the update is that we're all better ... alas!

It's actually very awesome news related to us being sick and may be helpful to others ;). In the comments section, Witchymom mentioned a study completed by researchers at the University of Maine.

In response to the 2009 flu epidemic, their quest was to find a natural flu remedy, and they found it - white pine needles. They found that a tea made from white pine needles is an effective treatment for the flu.

We know about the healing properties of pine ... I can't believe (especially given the preachy nature of this post *grin*) that I forgot one of the most powerful remedies for what's ailing us ;).

Luckily, I have access to a lot of white pine, and I didn't have to travel far to find it. There's a pot of it steeping in my kitchen right now ;).

Thanks for the reminder, Witchymom!

Have I ever mentioned how awesome my readers are?!?


  1. oh get well soon. I am very partial to the epsom salt bath for those aches and pains. It does wonders.

    Ginger tea is also one of my go to drinks when everyone is down, put some yummy raw honey in it for a boost.

    We also make a steam with eucalyptus oil for clearing the senses and its anti-bacterial properties. Clears the chest pretty well.

  2. Wendy, did you ever see that article on how those guys in Maine (was it through UMO maybe?) discovered/confirmed that the active ingredient in tamiflu comes from pine needles? I'm sorry if this explanation is a little shakey, and maybe when I have a min I'll see if I can find the original article/link.

    Basically, you can make your own by soaking pine needles in (plain old, room temp) water for several hours to draw the stuff out of the needles. There may be some filtering that 'they' suggest to isolate the anti-flu chemical out, but in a pinch it's good to know you could make your own. Apparently it did not really matter what temp the water is, so it's not neccessary to boil it and tests did not show the chemical could be extracted any quicker due to change in temps, and in fact recommended room temp.

    If another stubborn flu similar to H1N1 were to strike and access to doctors were limited in a future post-oil world, we all could try the pine needle water cure.

  3. Fleecenik - awesome suggestions! I actually have eucalyptus oil in my cabinet. A pot of water splashed with the oil on the woodstove would be nice :).

    Witchy Mom - I thought I'd seen that article. I thought I'd blogged about it, but can't find any posts about it. I have blogged about hemlock tea which is similar.

    Thanks for the reminder though. I'm going to venture out for some pine. Deus Ex Machina is feeling very poorly. He could use some :).

  4. I hope you are all "rounding the bend" and starting to feel better. I can't offer any new suggestions, just vouch for the eucalyptus oil steam, good ol' homemade chicken soup, and tea.
    The pine needles sound fascinating. Please let us know how this goes.

  5. I hate getting the flu vaccine and I hate getting my kids it. I know it's cliche, but the only time I ever get the drop-me-to-my-ass flu is when I get the vaccine. I just got over what was probably the flu last week, but it didn't level me.
    Hope y'all feel better!!!

  6. Did anyone see that big chicken?

    You mean this one?

    A previous owner of FAR Manor planted what I think is a white pine out front… I'll have to try that thing with the needles. I'd have tried it if I'd known about it when I was under the weather myself. Let us know if it works out for you & Deus! Hope the kids feel better soon too.

    As I understand it, the flu vaccine is targeted at the "best guess" strain for the year, but even if they miss it does increase resistance to whatever virus comes around. My big flu bout was around the end of 2000, I sipped Powerade and slept when my fever spiked. Once it was over, I wasn't debilitated, so I agree 100% with "rest and fluids."

  7. Farmgal - Looks like, perhaps, we on the downslope :). Thank you for your well wishes.

    Hey, Kaye - I feel fortunate that we aren't required to get the vaccine, as we're not in school. Glad you're feeling better, too ;).

    FARf - I reckon if that big chicken had run me over I'd definitely feel it ;). When you look at your pine tree, if it has clusters of needles with five needles in each cluster, it's white pine.

  8. I wish you a speedy recovery, though if it's truly influenza, you'll be down for the count for two weeks, most likely. I believe I read somewhere that something found (and likely forthwith extracted or synthesized) in elderberries is one of the only substances ever scientifically proven to shorten the duration of symptoms of viral infections. The wording was curious, because it didn't claim to "cure" anything. But I'm not sure what the difference between a reduction in the length of symptoms and a cure is, from an experiential point of view.

  9. We all battled the flu not too long ago, and as expected, the kids all bounced back quicker than the adults. The only one of us that still has lingering symptoms would be my mom, who at 65 takes longer than any of us to get well. I should add that she also has lung issues, so she normally coughs and sneezes with regularity, the flu just make it harder and more frequent for her.

    White pine? That's definitely something I'll look into! Hope you all feel better soon! :o)

  10. I second the use of elderberry, particularly if you take it at the onset of symptoms - or even just when those around you are sick and you're feeling like a sitting duck!
    There are some specific instances where its contra-indicated, depending on flu strain and one's age, but for us its been a wonderful boon.