I've attended the winter CES in Las Vegas seventeen of the last 19 years (or long enough so that if I'd had a kid the first year, they'd be in college by now) and sometimes I've come back less well than I left, but I've never had anything like this year's case of the flu. It was easily the sickest I've been in over 20 years. And it was more than enough to make me swear off CES for 2014.
I first noticed a problem on Thursday morning, with some congestion in my lungs and some rapid cycling between hot flashes and chills. But as the day wore on I felt better, well enough to go out to dinner. But during the meal I began to crash, hard. Normally a member of the "clean plate club" especially in a great restaurant, I was barely able to make it through half my meal and even left most of my micro-brew untouched. I knew I was in big trouble...
Friday morning was hell. I had to cover "The Show" at the Flamingo (which unless you get an upper floor "go-room" is a complete dive, almost on a level with the recently-leveled Imperial Palace) but I couldn't even drag myself out of bed. Finally, around 9:00 AM I went to breakfast and forced myself to visit some rooms at The Show. To whomever I visited, I'm sorry...I tried not to breath or shake hands or expel any of my internal foulness upon you.
Somehow, I made it to the airport, and onto my plane. My sincerest apologies to all my fellow plane-sitters, and in particular DQEX's Larry Owens, who sat next to me on the ride home. I managed to drive home (my wife, Suzanne, volunteered to pick me up, but some things are even beyond the call of marital duties), and I crashed, hard.
Next day I had been scheduled to set up to record the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, but it was all I could do to send a message to their manager via my iPhone that I was "flat on my back" and unable to record. Then I spent the next 48 hours semi-conscious, cycling between hot flashes and chills, with a headache that wouldn't quit no matter what I threw at it and a humming inside my head. By Tuesday (my deadline for my Show report for The Absolute Sound) I still was useless, sleeping 18 hours a day and suffering for the remaining six with semi-lucid heavings. I got an extension until Friday, which somehow I managed to make by writing in ½ hour sessions in between passing out from exhaustion.
Today, which is Tuesday, Jan 22, I'm able to function at about 50% rate. I'm still sine-waving between feeling almost OK to enervation and collapse.
Using 20-20 hindsight, I should have gotten a flu shot before CES, but a minor dental surgery complete with a regimen of antibiotics had left me no time to fit one in. What a dumb bunny, I was.
I found out after the show that two fellow journalists, Jonathan Valin from TAS, and Michael Fremer from Stereophile, both came down with a similar ailment. What's interesting is that I didn't see either one of them during the entire show. Using the standard incubation period for the flu, (24 to 36 hours) I must of contracted it sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday, when I was on the 34th and 35th floors of the Venetian (which are both areas also covered later by Valin and Fremer). Someone on those floors probably dosed all of us. Thanks, you high-end guy...
So, what should I have done differently? First I would have gotten my shot. Second I would have worn surgical gloves while at CES (as a member of my local volunteer fire department I've got a box of medium-sized latex gloves just sitting around for emergencies). Thirdly I would stop shaking hands at any gathering. Sorry, but a nod will have to do, unless you really want to feel a latex shake.
So, if I see you at 2013 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and I don't shake your hand, consider yourself lucky...