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The yearly bus ride

First-Person

Posted: August 10, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 10, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

As a youngster growing up in suburban London in the 1940s and 1950s, I would get the flu at least once a year, and the episodes would be pretty severe with shivers and shakes and aches that went right through the bones.

The chest congestion, which would linger and usually affect the lungs, was the worst part for me. These congestive episodes would last two to three weeks and sometimes longer.

Once I thought the fever had lifted I would say, “I think I can get out of bed now”. I would make it as far as the couch where I would break out in a sweat and just flop down.

When I was able, I would make my way back to bed for another few days and then try again.

When I was finally feeling a little better, although still recuperating, I used to look forward to getting out of the house for a while.

I would walk to the bus stop, about a five minute walk, and wait for one of the buses with a route away from the city and more towards other suburban areas or even destinations in the country.

Where I lived the buses were all double-decker, so I would ascend to the top deck and head for the front seats. This was directly above the driver and those front windows were large, so you had a wonderful panoramic view of the area in front of you.

Since I was in no hurry, I used to enjoy this little outing after being cooped up for some weeks. I would sit back and let myself daydream while my eyes were treated to some very pretty country vistas.

I came to consider this little ritual outing as a part of the recovery process. I would ride the bus to the end of the line where everyone had to disembark.

If I was feeling well enough, I would stroll around the local area and window shop or perhaps find a tea shop and enjoy some refreshments.

When I felt like I was ready to return, I would wait at the bus stop for the return ride. This was a pattern that was repeated at least once a year and sometimes more often.

I believe that afternoon of serenity was good preparation for returning to school and, when I was older, returning to work.

This yearly flu ordeal continued for several years after I came to the U.S. until finally the “flu shot” was widely administered. For me that was a wonderful moment although it ended my yearly outings.

I think we sometimes forget the wide-spread misery that influenza creates and how thankful we should be for the scientific advances that continue to make our lives more comfortable and keep us in good health.

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