Well, they say the flu shot is a bit of a bust this year — about 40 percent coverage — which actually is a lot better than zero percent. So it’s not like we’re telling people not to get vaccinated. But let’s face it; the odds are not good for most of us as we rage through this very busy flu season. Many have either been sick or can expect to become sick before the arrival of warmer weather, despite having been vaccinated.

With a tendency to be overly optimistic at times, I was feeling really lucky and among the 40 percent until early last week, when late one afternoon came a dry cough, then the next morning kind of flushed and achy-breaky feeling. I staggered into work and finally got home with a fever of 102. Now what could be the problem, I’m thinking to myself. Maybe the flu? You bonehead?

Flu’s not the kind of thing that allows one to lounge around, read a little, channel surf and have an “I’m sick party.” It puts the victim down and inflicts a type of suffering that allows little else except crying for momma.

The actual virus is bad enough, disrupting normal organ function and so forth. But it’s the body’s immune response to the invading organism that’s just as bad, and maybe worse. All the chemicals released into the system by white blood cells to help fight off the viral particles have a way of making people feel badly — and sometimes very badly — i.e., dead.

It’s thought that one of the reasons why the infamous 1918 flu epidemic was so deadly was because it triggered an inappropriately vigorous immune response among healthy hosts, which went above and beyond the usual impact on the very old and very young.

Anyway, I appear to have survived but am still somewhat under the effects as I write this. So if the column doesn’t seem up to its usual standards, that would be my alibi — for this week anyway — and a perfect opportunity for me to get out of the way and have some reader input.


The column supporting the Hawk family’s desires to subdivide 1 Meeting St. was disproportionally pro-Hawk in terms of reader response. In fact, a local attorney, Jay Gouldon, wrote me and said in part, and I quote, “For once, I agree with you.”

Some who disagreed, though, think the 12,000-square-foot estimate is excessive and may reflect attic, porches and basement in addition to actual living space. If that were the case, the argument goes, the notion that the house is too big not to subdivide is misleading.

Elizabeth Bradham, a neighbor down the street, thinks, “The house is simply overpriced, given its current condition. You could argue that ‘value’ is set by the market, and the market has responded to the current price — too high and therefore no offers. The house has been poorly maintained for several years and, as a result, would be an expensive renovation project for anyone. It may be recalled that the front brick façade almost fell into Meeting Street a couple of years ago. If properly maintained, it would be an exceptional home, given its unparalleled views over White Point Garden, Murray Boulevard and East Battery.”

As we get into the new year, Walter Duane brings to mind one of life’s cyclical mysteries. “T. S. Eliot said (paraphrasing) that we do not cease to explore, but at the end of our exploration we arrive at the place from whence we started and know it for the first time.”

I love that quote, of course, but please tell me we know something about the finish line and what it represents as well!

Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.