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Of flu and friendships

The flu season is here again. I guess that is no surprise to those of you who have experienced any one of the viruses going around this fall. That is exactly why it is on my mind at the moment. Right in the middle of a bright and personally productive day, POW!, it hit me ‘ the dreaded intestinal virus!
Now, I get along pretty well up here in the big city of Indianapolis. I have a place here because this is where opportunities for my kind of work exist. But, my living style is still that of Harrison County. At least I thought it was until I came face to face with the flu bug.
Having gotten a flu shot and pneumonia booster in the morning, I was feeling so responsible that I then drove to have my car washed. It felt good having initiated preventative maintenance both for myself and my wheels on the same day.
But then it hit: that first ouch and queasy feeling in the stomach. It was just the side effect of the immunizations, or so I thought.
It wasn’t until late that night, when I was already beyond taking effective action, that I contacted my doctor, only to be told that I must have the intestinal virus that was going around and that I needed to get some medicine to stop it in its tracks. Therein, began my realization that I was no longer in Harrison County.
Thankfully, two of my grandchildren, Beau and Chelsea Zoeller, have moved in with me in order to attend Indiana University in Indianapolis. Although all caring, they didn’t have a clue as to whom to call, where to pick up medicine or where to haul their ailing grandmother in the middle of the night. Somehow, with the Yellow Pages and a lot of fumbling around, we got the right medicine in my mouth and me to an emergency room to receive fluids.
This experience caused me to begin thinking about several things.
While living in Corydon for years, there was always the security of family, long-time friends and neighbors, friendly pharmacists and nearby medical facilities, and I now realize I took all of that for granted. In the ‘olden days,’ when I was a new bride, I felt as though everyone in the county was related. Not so today, and mostly for the better. We are a richer, more complete and diverse community now. However, it comes with a downside. Some of our Harrison County neighbors do not share that type of assistance network like we used to have.
I also realized I hadn’t communicated with those near to me what we would do in case of an emergency. This may not be a pleasant conversation, but it sure beats trying to find help in the Yellow Pages while trying to hold your head up in a disaster.
In addition, I must get to know my current neighbors. It is easy here in the city to just wave ‘hi’ over the fence, get in my car and call it a friendship. No more of that for me. I need in Indy what I have in Harrison County: neighbors who have an idea about my household and when things seem to be going well and when they’re not. I have a friend who is alive today because her next-door neighbor went over to see why she had not picked up her morning paper as she usually did. She found my friend in the midst of a heart attack.
When I got up after a week of misery, I mentioned to my neighbors that I was looking for others who needed a buddy for neighborly support. Believe me, this opened a lively discussion.
Even though I didn’t have ‘the big one,’ H1N1, I realize we’re in the flu season and I better pay attention to all those prevention tips, such as washing hands and coughing in sleeves. There is no H1N1 vaccine available yet for me or anyone else, and we are all vulnerable.
Meanwhile, the plain, old knock-you-out respiratory flu also is lurking. Fortunately, it currently is easy to get the vaccine for it, but since it takes a while for it to become effective, you better go get your flu shot now ‘ and take your co-workers and friends along.
Yes, I talk a lot about strong communities and how we go about building them. Well, this certainly hit me as the best example of why that message is valid.