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The silver lining in Influenza

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I never quite understood when people said that they had “The Flu” vs. “a cold.” You see, I’ve had colds and other respiratory illnesses before, but I guess I had never experienced the full-on flu until last week.

It started suddenly on Sunday, feeling nauseated and like a human heater, plus some kind of fuzz or what I can only describe as “static” in my nose, throat and lungs. I’ll spare you the other gory six days of feeling like Death had taken me over, but during that time when I could hardly type anything on my computer because my fingers and wrists hurt from looking at them, I could still find time to laugh and look at the silver lining in the midst of “The Flu.”  

I learned that sometimes we take things for granted, things that we use and need every day, like your senses. On Thursday, I decided to make the effort to cook my “comfort food” soup. I chopped a bunch of onions in the belief that they would help me get better faster. Then, a funny thing happened: I didn’t shed one tear while chopping the onions, nor could I smell them whilst chopping. I usually cry like a baby when I’m chopping any kind of onions.

Later, I ate my soup and it didn’t taste bad, just not onion-y at all. I had lost all sense of smell and taste, something that had never happened before. I have a very acute sense of smell and taste and can “deconstruct” dishes’ ingredients with one bite. I kid you not: some people have suggested I become a food critic or a professional coffee taster.

With this new finding, I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to eat foods I’ve never liked, like pickles or spicy foods, because it would all taste like unsalted crackers, rice cakes or “cardboard.” And I did try a few things that I didn’t like, and a few that I love, like coffee, and my taste buds just weren’t there.

In a weird way, I’m grateful that I lost those senses (and they’re not quite back, yet) because it made me appreciate what I have. I now have a greater appreciation for the way different foods taste and smell to me. Even if some people dismiss my likes and dislikes, I am grateful for what I have, grateful that chocolate and coffee taste and smell of sweet high heaven to me (just not together).

What would you do if you lost one of your senses? I don’t know what I would do if I lost any one sense completely, but for the time being, I’m immensely thankful for what I have. And I’m grateful that my sense of smell and taste are slowly coming back. Even in Influenza, there are silver linings. 

How to spot a silver lining? Take a step back and ask yourself: What kind of opportunity is there or what can I learn from this?