This is the H1N1 influenza virus. One of the three or four ‘flu viruses which are most prevalent during this 2016 / 2017 influenza season.
Perhaps the ‘flu virus that caught me (I don’t think you catch the ‘flu. The ‘flu catches you) was the B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. Australia is in the midst of its worst ‘flu outbreak on record.
Whichever strain of the virus it was, I started feeling the effects of the infection ten days ago. It started with a sore throat, which progressed to a fever, upper chest and nasal congestion, aching joints, and an annoying cough.
After a week of Hurix’s Fluaway capsules, and Strepsils lozenges, I felt better. Not 100%, but well enough to ride to Kundang with birthday boy Mark, Marco, and Khoo. I was following the old adage to “sweat out a cold”.
I’m was also sure the Kundang pan mee would have curative properties.
The same had to be true for the chendol from Hasan’s van on Jalan Bukit Mayang Emas.
I didn’t feel any better, but I didn’t feel any worse, the next morning. The morning of the Man Ride Day. Lay, Khoo and Mark were coming to my apartment to start the ride with me. There was no backing out.
There were two distances to choose from. 100km and 200km. We all chose the 100km route, from The Bike Artisans on Jalan Doraisamy to Genting Sempah and Janda Baik, and then back to The Bike Artisans. Hardier souls than we rode twice as far, to Raub and back.
The agreement with Lay, Khoo and Mark was that if I started coughing, the pace was too high. Which turned out to be an effective way of controlling our speed up the climbs to Genting Sempah. Cough cough cough!
We started the ride with about one hundred other cyclists. Perhaps half were ahead of us by the time we got near the Orang Asli Hospital. Then everyone moved ahead of us, because we stopped for food and drink at our regular spot, Restoran Sidek Ria.
We spent 25 minutes over roti telur and iced Milo. Back on my bike, I coughed, spluttered, and blew snot rockets every now and then all the way up to Genting Sempah.
At the flyover I decided that I felt good enough to continue to Bukit Tinggi. That cut out the Janda Baik loop, which removed some steep slopes and about 15km / 9mi from our route.
We stopped for more food and drink in Bukit Tinggi. There are a number of coffee shops to choose from.
My riding buddies kindly kept the pace low as we climbed the 415 meters / 1,360 feet of elevation over the 9km / 5.5mi from Bukit Tinggi back to Genting Sempah. I had brought some Strepsils to help with my cough, but had nothing to boost my compromised lung capacity.
Once the last slope at Hamburger Hill was dealt with, it was downhill for 25km / 15.5mi to Jalan Taman Ibu Kota. Then onto flat ground past the Twin Towers and back to The Bike Artisans.
The Man Ride Day ended with a nasi kandar and satay lunch, a short talk on Mens’ Mental Health by Associate Professor Dr. Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin from University of Malaya, a short talk on reaching out for help by Kenny Lim of Befrienders Malaysia, and an auction of commemorative Black Sheep Chaos kit.
It was a well-organised event, and good fun. I’m glad I rode the event, albeit for only 90km / 56mi.
My cough and upper chest congestion didn’t get any better over the weekend. It was slightly worse on Monday morning.
So today, belatedly, I did some research. Was there any truth to the “sweat out a cold” adage?
The answer is “it depends.”
Doctors differentiate between ‘above the neck’ symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes or a mild sore throat, and ‘below the neck’ ones, such as a cough, a congested or tight chest, an upset stomach, muscle aches and fever.
A light to moderate – and brief – workout is fine if your symptoms are above the neck.
If your symptoms are below the neck? Give workouts a miss. Exercising with major cold symptoms will prolong your illness and can be dangerous.
Which probably explains why I still have a stuffy nose and a cough.
I have below the neck symptoms. So no BCG Tuesday Night Fun Ride for me today.
Now where did I put those Strepsils?
I saw a doctor. He put his stethoscope on my chest as I took deep breaths. Well, as deep as I could manage.
He heard lots of crackling. Walking pneumonia was his diagnosis. I left his clinic with an antibiotic, and something for my cough.
And with strict instructions to avoid any exercise until my lungs were clear.
Seven days later, I could ride again.