Monday, January 10, 2011


The cellist and I went out for a really nice evening on New Year's Eve. Some friends of ours were performing music at one of the First Night venues in Wolfe City. Some other friends of ours were serving vegetarian chili and other tasty foods to benefit a local organization promoting such things as hanging your laundry on a clothes line and riding a bike for transportation.

Yes, First Night was delightful.

Second Night it all went to hell. We hoped to entice some neighbors over for dinner before they returned to their real lives, teaching at a prep school in Massachusetts. The cellist/chef had made a dish with prosciutto and Parmesan. We were serving a better-than-average wine we'd received for Christmas to go with it. As luck would have it, the neighbors couldn't make it. That turned out to be a good thing, because it turned out the cellist was only renting dinner.

Norovirus stalks the land of Wolfe. The cellist never made it to dessert. Thus began a long night for us both. How could I hope to escape? It must only be a matter of time. She'd made our food, including a salad. The cooked stuff might be okay, but the raw vegetables?

Alas, that delightful dish she made for Saturday night will now live forever in our lexicon as Death Meal.

Symptoms manifest within four to 48 hours of exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control. We did check symptoms of other things like kidney failure and gall bladder obstruction, but if the choice was between something extremely expensive and possibly fatal, or something really miserable, highly contagious but self-limiting, I knew which way I had to vote.

Sunday morning, still part of the Christmas Week work marathon for those of us in the winter tourism business, I awoke still unharmed. I drank only enough coffee to start basic brain functioning and ate a few crumbs of breakfast. I was not about to give the virus the satisfaction of taking from me anything delicious and filling. This is WAR. The virus is an invader. I will strip the landscape sooner than give it any succor.

During the day I drank water and nibbled bland crumbly things. In the afternoon, the cellist actually went to the emergency room because she had run out of actual food and beverage items to expel from her body and was now producing things better left unseen. Some of it was probably school snacks from when she was in kindergarten. Strangely, when I said I would come home to drive her to the hospital, she insisted she would do it herself. She was feeling much better between the virus's last improvised explosive devices as it torched the countryside on its way to the border.

"If I wait for you it will take me twice as long to get there," she said. It was true. I would be driving out from town only to drive all the way back to town once I had her on board.

Even though Norovirus is for the most part just a fantastically unpleasant nuisance, it is fantastically unpleasant enough to make every moment one does NOT have it precious, especially when one expects it any minute.

Day one passed. I remained healthy. Day two followed it. I continued my reduced caffeine and extremely sparse eating. Needless to say, I had no alcohol, either.

I know I drink too much coffee. During bike season I can get away with a certain amount of excess. The 75% hydration value you get from a caffeinated beverage is at least some help. My faster metabolism during self-propelled season helps me use up the stimulant effects as well. In decades past I could withstand the overload of off-season coffee saturation if I skied enough. Now, though, I notice that less is more. So even though I made it through the week without getting the plague, I'm sticking with the calorie reduction and the plain water. I dropped a couple of pesky pounds, too.

As for the Norovirus, we continue to practice "due diligence," as a friend of mine in the natural food store downstairs put it.

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