I recommend the seasonal flu — but please allow me to explain.

About a week ago, I felt suddenly rundown and weak. I just wanted to lie down.

I thought nothing of it at the time. My family is facing some difficulties at the moment, difficulties we all must face now and again — and all of us are getting beat down.

But it wasn’t just fatigue.

Was it the big C, I wondered?


I’d never tested positive for having COVID-19. Did that dreaded virus finally find a way to feast on my blessed good health?


It turned out to be just a regular flu — but there was nothing regular about it.

A particularly nasty and highly contagious bug that’s spreading rapidly around my region, it turned out to be the worst case of flu I ever recall having in my life.

With the intense national — and global — focus on a deadly “novel coronavirus” these past three years, it’s easy to forget how deadly the regular flu is.

According to the CDC, which has always had a hard time pinning down the exact numbers, the flu has been killing anywhere from 17,000 to 97,000 Americans every year since 2012.

Healthline says the flu has caused at least “3.5 million flu illnesses, 34,000 hospitalizations, and 2,000 deaths” in the United States this season.

And I was among its victims.

I went to the ER to make sure it was the bug causing my issues, and that my heart and fundamentals were sound — and I am very lucky they were (and are).

Then I returned home and commenced immediately lying in the same spot without moving — no food, nothing — for the next four days.

My teeth itched. I felt like a piano was sitting on my chest. The nausea would not relent. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

It’s a challenge all too common in affluent America: you can easily lose sight of how good you have it until you are reminded how bad things can get.

I recall filling my truck up for $40 a tank not long ago — and now it costs $70 a tank.

All I can think of as I stand there pumping is how hard I worked the prior few years and how I was able put a nice little buffer in my savings account to prepare for a rainy day.

Now I think of the 1% return my savings account is paying against the 8.4% inflation rate from last month — and the 9.6% rate it is going to be this month — and I realize how much I took for granted the low-low inflation rate we’ve been enjoying for several decades.

Having your good health taken from you suddenly — but temporarily in my case, thankfully — makes me want to focus my energy on important matters, not trivial ones.

From now on I do not want to waste one fraction of a single second discussing politics on social media, but I do want to spend as much time as possible with my mom and dad as long as we have them to enjoy.

Every time I see them now — and I wasn’t able to do so at all the past week — I ask them a new question about their lives and other family members.

They are a fountain of wisdom and I want to capture as much of their experience and knowledge as I can while they are still able to share it.

And now you know why I recommend the seasonal flu!

Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at Tom@TomPurcell.com.

One reply on “PURCELL: Learning to appreciate the flu”

  1. I recently had a similar experience. After a negative COVID test, it turned out to be “just the flu.” Whoever envisioned we’d be relieved to say that?

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