I lay in bed on Sunday afternoon listening to myself breathe and thinking what a strange week it had been.
My sister's flu had gotten worse over the last few days. I had begun to develop the same symptoms myself, to the point where it was difficult to get to sleep for the noise my lungs were making - a bit like an asthmatic baby elephant trying to tip-toe across a corrugated iron roof.
Julie spent most of the day in bed. Twice a day she would get up and I would drive her over to her place to feed the animals. Then while she slept I would go to work or do the shopping, stopping occasionally to cough or catch my breath.
After a few days I was almost as sick as she was. I had the feeling of being disconnected from the world around me - my internal clock had stopped working and it was always slightly surprising whenever I looked at my watch and found it was earlier or later than I had thought.
I became clumsy, as though I were trying to write my name whilst wearing mittens, and my concentration suffered.
Gradually the worst of it began to pass for me, though my sister's constitution was slower to throw off the virus.
She had worries of a different sort on her mind. A trip to the Vet Hospital for some tests on two of her animals had unwelcome results. Not only did her favorite dog have cancer, but her favorite cat was diagnosed with a heart problem.
To add insult to injury, veterinary science is now so high-tech that each visit to the Vet incurred a bill of hundreds of dollars.
Not a cheerful prospect.
I had to go into the city on Monday, no matter how I felt. Even in this age of internet banking at the touch of a button, having a cheque in your pocket is no good unless you can get to a bank. When my bank account hit $1.52 it was obviously essential to go to town.
Having a few dollars in my pocket, I loaded up on the essentials - boxes of Kleenex, cough syrup, anti-histamines and Cold & Flu tablets. The latter have changed a little since I last bought them: instead of pseudoephedrine they now contain Phenylephrine Hydrochloride and Chlorpheniramine Maleate.
I haven't used those before (or even heard of them, come to that!) but they worked fine. Unlike my sister I rarely use pain-killers of any description, so they have more of an effect on me. These gave me the first good night's sleep I'd had in almost two weeks.