The Bug What Got Me: Personal Epidemiology

Lasvegas-1Lynn thinks it's a pretty tricky assignment to figure out where and when I received the bug that laid me up from Wednesday night until today. I agree. But it's fun to speculate.

I was on the road starting a week ago Friday, flying out from Seattle to Las Vegas. Jeff Carlson, officemate and friend, and I visited the Consumer Electronics Show Saturday and Sunday, then flew to his mom's in Dixon, Calif., near Sacramento. (We were warned that the Las Vegas airport, a place where the smoking lounge has no ventilation and open doors to the rest of the terminal, would be impossible to get through Sunday afternoon with 140,000 CES attendees departing. It took us an hour to get from the CES show to our hotel and then to the airport, where there were tiny lines and no wait. We wound up working for a few hours using the unreliable, not particularly high-speed but conveniently free Wi-Fi connection.)

From Dixon, Jeff's mom Susan drove us to SF where I stayed until Wednesday afternoon, when I flew back to Seattle. The flu or cold started grabbing me on Tuesday night with a upper bronchial yuck, made me tired and slightly lightheaded during the day on Wednesday, and then threw the chills at me (my body trying to kill it off, I know) on Wed. night. I decided to avoid most cold drugs on Thursday to see if I could shake it faster by succumbing. Some success perhaps there.

83716593 C04E568D5C MNow I know that I shared pastries baked by Jeff and my friend Neil Robertson, who cooks at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The three of us certainly exchanged spit. Jeff was sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night on the trip, working on four presentations he was to give at Macworld. If I was sick then, surely he would have gotten it via saliva, right? Maybe not. He's still well.

Thus, I would wager that some hand I shook, despite frequent hand washing and use of waterless cleaner during the trip, must have been disease-laden. I didn't know anyone well at CES, so there was no hugging, cheek to cheek, or kissing. Since Susan and Jeff aren't sick, it seems unlikely I picked it up or spread it in Dixon. I unfortunately, kissed, hug, and shook hands with tons of people at Macworld. I'm hoping they are not in the grips of the grippe.

Since I arrived home on Wed., we've been observing strict sanity and cleaning behavior. So far, so good. No sick Ben or Lynn. I'm hoping I either wasn't contagious by the time I got home or our prophylactic attitude took care of it. If they're still well tomorrow, we should be out of the woods.

There were points on Thursday night when this felt like the worst sickness I had ever had. Fortunately, it passed.