The week I caught H1N1 — it was beyond bizarre

After all the running and waiting and righteous fist-pumping of Sunday’s commute, I ended up going home early from work on Monday sick with a fever.

For the rest of the week, I laid holed up in my hotel room in what would become one of the more surreal weeks in my life. This week I stayed in Redwood Shores, in a nice secluded area in the Bay Area. My room was a suite overlooking a lake a bike path. At first glance, the setting seems idyllic. But there’s also a small airport next to the hotel, which gets periodically noisy throughout the day.

Monday night was odd. I had a fevered sleep where I dreamed of duck hunting in some place called Maxwell and that I was living in the ranch that was pictured in the painting beside my bed. There were drawers that came out of the wall containing secrets and that there was a murdered person hiding in one of these drawers. This is interspersed with desperate attempts to get warm and a very brief go at watching American TV, which after a certain time is 100% infomercials.

It was a relief when Tuesday arrived, but with it came Banger the Dog. Banger was in the suite underneath me and he (or she) did not like airplanes, or the people walking on the bike path, or other dogs, or the leaves that fell on the bike path. Banger made an impression shortly after arriving on midday Tuesday.

Every time something came into his line of sight he started to bark and bark and bark and then bang his head on the window. If it was another dog he would howl and fight to get through the window, which is no easy feat because if his room was anything like mine, it has a very large 1970s air conditioning unit in front of the window. From the sounds of it, this was a very dense mid-sized dog (like a Bull Terrier). After the banging at the window, he would then proceed to run in circles around the room before settling down.

This is how Tuesday went: me trying to ignore the pain in my head and cool a fever. Banger the dog doing his thing: bark bark bark bark. Bang bang bang bang. Circle circle circle circle. To drown this out I tried to watch HGTV, which is one of the only channels on TV that I’ll watch. Still, I find HGTV immensely depressing.

Yes… there are amazing people out there with great hair who can build an eclectic walkway using a collection of coke bottles and seaside pebbles… one-income families in suburban Toronto who buy a million-dollar vacation property in the Virgin Islands to “ease the stress” of daily Canadian life… and people who can purchase a $500,000 dollar house in some fantastic city and then complain constantly that the tiles don’t match the countertop and that the third bathroom is too small.

I want to know where the real people are, the average everyday people who really need help. People who have houses that are falling apart around them with carpets fraying and chipped tiles and leaking pipes held together by duct tape and ingenuity. The people who live from paycheque to paycheque and can barely manage to scrape together a few thousand dollars to add to their RRSPs every year. The people whose house is constantly in a state of renovation because as the money trickles in then so does the ability to change something like the wonderful gals over at I guess these stories don’t sell many TV spots.

In a desperate attempt to get away from American TV, on Wednesday I tried to sneak into the office but was promptly sent back to the hotel.

Later in the day, out of the blue, my dad sent me an email telling me to get off my butt and start booking hotels in Ireland for the Gathering. Seems hotels are filling fast. I made some arrangements and at some point in the middle of the night, I met a really nice lady in Portmagee who helped me with bookings and tours. We chatted for a while and she was so nice that it actually made me cry.

This is when my fever finally broke and I was able to get some sleep but not before throwing out my back during a nasty coughing fit.

Thursday was rather uneventful except for the flight. I’d gotten so used to being treated like evil dirt on United that flying Air Canada was a pleasant end to the week.

For my second flight, I got on right away and so did the man who was sitting next to me. We had a quick chat and then moved on per normal. Or so I thought. I began to notice that nearly every woman who came on the plane did a double and then a triple take of this man. Some were turning to their friends and signalling them to look. Even the stewardesses started to act a little strange. When one lady stopped, gasped and froze, I could no longer ignore the fact that I was sitting next to a celebrity of sorts.

I had absolutely no clue who he was and throughout the entire stream of ogling fans, he kept pulling his cap lower and lower. I wondered for a while about the man’s identity but then descended into a world of back pain and cough misery. I spent the entire flight trying to not hack like a seal.

When it was time to leave the plane, I noticed that he had a frequent flier tag on his carry-on bag — and read it. Seems I was sitting next to Kim Coates from the Sons of Anarchy.

The photos in the gallery are from around my hotel.

2 comments on “The week I caught H1N1 — it was beyond bizarreAdd yours →

  1. It’s funny (peculiar) because every week since that flight I’ve heard someone on the plane with the same cough. Some of my co-workers want to get sick… so they can work from home for a week instead of flying!

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