There were two things I needed on my spring break trip with seven of my closest friends.\nThe first was a notebook to record their thoughts.\nThe other was tissue to record the piles of snot taking my sinuses hostage. But my tissues weren't meant to be shared. Neither is the flu, or whatever it was.\nThe disease started with Luke a little more than a week before break. He went to the IU Health Center and got the "good stuff."\nA few days later he recovered, but not before passing his illness onto myself and Jarrett. Jarrett then seemingly moved the disease on to Toby. So when the trip started, I was carrying a box of tissues at every stop while Toby and Jarrett couldn't keep from coughing. By the time the week ended I think everyone except Amy had some form of the disease and all the tissues were long gone.\nIn their place were cough drops, vitamin C tablets, decongestants and allergy pills. But nothing really worked.\nInstead there was an assembly line of temporary relief. Dave was blowing his nose while I was drinking juice. Luke took lozenges while I did anything to try and sleep. Jamie fought a cough while I spit out anything I could.\n"I don't feel sick at all," Jamie said. "I just have this cough. I can't seem to shake it."\nThough nearly everyone had some form of discomfort, my bout with Luke's flu was the worst. And though they had lots of other things they could be worrying about -- Stacey and Jamie meeting up with a childhood friend; Jarrett's conversation with a local calling himself "Juicey"; or Toby getting a chance to talk to his girlfriend -- they all went out of the way to take pity.\n"It sucks that you're sick," Jarrett said once.\nIt did.\nBut their words were comforting. The country was seemingly days away from war and at the same time a mystery illness was attacking everyone.\nFor a while I thought I had SARS. I'm taking a biology of deadly diseases course through IU's biology program, and it's interesting, though it must make everyone (or at least me) a hypochondriac. If SARS hadn't been in the news I might have thought I had tuberculosis, or maybe even the first known case of smallpox in over 20 years. \nIf you knew what those diseases could do to you, you'd freak out.\nI did.\nAnd I would never imagine where it got me.
Read Chapter 8: Population 6,790, Monday