This week’s writing tip likely contains Influenza blowback

image Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s on Writing, which is coming to you live from my bed. Wait, it gets sexier. The reason I am writing from bed is because I am a snotty, achey and feverish mess. This is probably why I have received no accolades from Publisher’s Weekly or Writer’s Digest this week, or even from The Master of Horror® Stephen King — which is surprising considering this terrifying subject matter.

Which isn’t to say this week’s NWOW has gone completely unnoticed. The CDC in Atlanta has issued a warning to all readers of this blog to “immediately slather yourselves and this monitor with sanitizer before continuing.” And by “before continuing,” I’m assuming they mean with what you’re reading.

If you’re continuing with anything other than that, I really don’t want to know.

By this point you’ve undoubtedly realized that my fever, combined with heavy flu medication, is keeping me from maintaining any real focus. Which brings me to today’s NWOW topic:

Write what you know.

Following that train of thought, the only thing I know right now is that mucus is gross, and we can all apparently expect a lot more of it in the coming weeks thanks to a potential shortage of vaccinations and medicine. That said, please consider this week’s NWOW an example of how dangerous it can be when a highly medicated, feverish columnist is allowed access to his blog after reading the latest news reports — the result of which has led me to reach the following decision:

Today, in an unprecedented move, I am joining hundreds of other columnists around the nation who will be addressing the flu vaccination crisis while simultaneously wiping “Influenza blowback” from their computer monitors. For those unfamiliar with this term, here’s how it might be used on an episode of CSI:

“Well, judging from the chew marks on this Robitussin safety cap, and the presence of oozing and gelatinous Influenza blowback on his computer monitor, I’d say our suspect has the flu. [Cut to lightening-quick journey through mucus-filled nasal cavity]. Chances are, he’s still in the area. Maybe even in this very room.”
“Gesundheit. By the way, which investigation team did you say you’re from?”

image While national attention is turning to a possible shortage of flu vaccine, health department officials say, as a result of the potential vaccine crisis, we are now facing what was once unthinkable.

“The nation’s supply of facial tissue has become dangerously low,” warned Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, head of the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. “If we’re not careful, many Americans will be left using standard bathroom tissue during the peak of flu season.”

This warning prompted an emergency meeting on Capitol Hill where top health officials were questioned about the oversight. However, the session was unexpectedly cut short when committee members were forced to evacuate after Senator John McCain sneezed repeatedly before finishing with a “Yaaa-HOOO!” A photographer who was seated directly in front of the senator is reported to be in stable condition at a nearby psychiatric hospital.

According to health officials, the current crisis began when Chinese regulators unexpectedly shut down tissue manufacturer Bung Corp. last Tuesday after it was discovered that millions of boxes bound for the U.S. had been printed without the necessary safety instructions required by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

America’s ambassador to China Max Baucus was immediately dispatched to the factory, where he demonstrated — before a panel of regulators — that he was indeed capable of using the tissue without any instruction or injuries. In spite of multiple demonstrations, including one in which Baucus, bound by Chinese finger cuffs, was forced to blow his nose with the help of a blindfolded aid, Chinese regulators remained unconvinced.

As a result, 43 million boxes of tissue once bound for the U.S. has been shipped to France where, according to one French official, “It will be stuffed into jackets and used as body armor.”

Faced with the impending shortage, the CDC introduced a nationwide “voluntary rationing” system yesterday to ensure that supplies of tissue would meet the needs of high-risk users in the months ahead.

“The bottom line is, don’t blow your nose until absolutely necessary,” advised Dr. Frieden. “This is a time of crisis. I think, as Americans, we should all be willing to overlook a few snot bubbles.”

As a responsible member of the media, I plan to do my part by blowing my nose as little as possible until this crisis passes. For those of you planning to attend any of my speaking engagements in the near future, let me apologize in advance to anyone seated in the front row.

In the meantime, you know where to find me. But if I were you, I wouldn’t want to.

Stay well, everyone…

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

39 thoughts on “This week’s writing tip likely contains Influenza blowback”

  1. Get some rest, and get well soon. I had the flu in December. I admitted to not getting the shot. Too bad I didn’t know I could deflect personal responsibility onto a vaccine shortage.

    1. Thanks, Melanie. I’ve been in and out all day between naps. I’m one of those anti-vaccine types who’s likes to do things the old-fashioned way. Until I’m actually sick, then I’m thinking “What’s WRONG with me? Get the shot next time!”

      But I probably won’t 😉

        1. I’m more worried about adding to the inevitable super virus that’s evolving because of all the vaccinating out of convenience. Kids and old people (give me another 15 years on that one) I understand. But middle-aged people who aren’t traveling abroad?

          That’s why I’m toughing it out, I’m going to be a SURVIVOR! Mucusy, but still… a SURVIVOR!

  2. Ok, I had the flu but read WebMD’s recommendation to take Elderberry Extract and I went to hyvee and got some from the organic food aisle. It has been studied to be more effective at fighting the flu than Tamiflu. I got sick within 3 hours, from one cough to needing albuterol treatments. After one dose of the Extract I didn’t need any more treatments–except when I forgot to dose myself, then my cough would get worse again. I took 6 tbsp. every 4-6 hours around the clock. I was up and walking around in three days.

  3. awwww ..poor baby! you need some chicken parsley ball soup …and a biscuit..can I get you a grilled motza/cheddar sandwich on Rye Carraway bread? or lemon gellato? how about some ginger honey tea and a blankey? take a nice hot shower while i change the sheets and fluff your pillows. and get the elderberry drop stuff and ..kleenex..screw the shortages..this is a crisis! here’s a cool cloth for your forehead while i make a barley soup for you and refill the vaporizer.

      1. ..thought about you this morning when I woke are you feeling today? all kidding aside.. take 3-4 hot steamy showers a day to try and break up chest congestion and get eucalyptus to aid in sinus issues as well..overdose on OJ and cranberry juice..i hope you are feeling better soon because being sick, just sucks.

        1. Thanks for thinking of me. I’m feeling a little better today and have been showering every few hours trying to break things up. Been drinking a lot of OJ (tastes weird without the vodka 😉 ) and my nose isn’t running, so that’s progress!

          Thanks again for the kind thoughts.

  4. My Ed Norton Aunty Virus says I shouldn’t reply to this email, but I wanted you to know I’ll be thinking of you….I’ll be making a weird face when I do, but I AM thinking of you, all Kramden your bed trying not to Ralphie boy.

    Go easy on yourself, the flu can be a Trixie thing…Alice until the meds kick in. You know, at the end of the Honeymooner period.

  5. Maybe the flu season was a cause of the TP shortage experienced in the Navy in 1984-85. Using paper towels is considered ‘roughing it’.

    If only I knew enough about something to write.

    Whenever someone near me sneezes, I always say ‘keep your bird flu to yourself.’
    Or i say ‘bless me.’ when asked why I bless myself, I reply, It’s cause I may catch your flu.
    Whenever I sneeze, I say nothing.

  6. ““The nation’s supply of facial tissue has become dangerously low,”

    Huh? Ever wondered why God invented sleeves? I got two of ’em on the shirt I am wearing now – and guess what? I got a closet full of them – and if those run out, I can walk across the closet to were my wife keeps her sleeves.

    1. I hope it’s the “feel better soon” part that’s going around because I could use it. I am rarely sick, so when I am it’s a doozy. I never do anything halfway. Except for that time I tried backing out of a funhouse tube with my kids…

  7. I’m still trying to figure out how you were able to write this post and sound just as coherent and funny as always. I have a head ache and runny nose FOR you!
    As soon as I saw that you were sick, I went into nutury mom mode and whipped up some homemade chicken and dumpling soup. Granted, I didn’t know where to mail it (or even if that was legal) so my husband and son devoured the whole pot and remain flu free. Sorry ’bout that.
    It’s the thought, right?

    PLEASE get better soon and quit burning that candle at both ends (I had a smart A. comment to that line and demurely refrained…for another day!)

    1. Thanks, Michelle — the thought counts for a lot. Especially the dumplings. I haven’t had dumplings in years and they’re one of my favorites.

      And fortunately, a burning “end” hasn’t been one of the symptoms of this flu 😉

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