I thought the three upper respiratory viral infections that settled into my existence this winter provided sufficient diversion for any post-holiday slump. They each brought a sackful of interesting symptoms: One included sinus aches and sniffles; another brought chills and fever; and a third provided a cough and sore throat.

I had the opportunity to test several over-the-counter remedies, some homegrown cures (?) and a few nifty prescription drugs, all of which came with entertaining surprises and side effects. Some put you to sleep; others keep you awake. If you take them together they make you confused. One caused stomach distress so you have to avoid this one when taking the one that puts you to sleep.

Somehow, I managed to survive all three upper respiratory amusements and the various cures I tested to get rid of them. As entertainment goes, I don't recommend sinusitis, bronchitis, or anything that disrupts normal breathing and swallowing.

But for pure recreation, none of the three URIs could hold a candle to the intestinal viral infection that followed hard on their dreadful heels.

At first, I suspected food poisoning. I couldn't imagine that anything less than a toxic dose of something could cause the violent reactions my stomach demonstrated in the wee hours of a Sunday morning. Initially, I thought about the place my fishing buddy and I had eaten the evening before, only to end up worshiping once again at the porcelain altar, a shrine I frequented about every two hours for most of Sunday morning. I tried to force myself not to think about the meal I'd had Saturday night. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to talk yourself into not thinking about something? And I had far too many frequent reminders of that last dinner anyway.

My wife — who, if she had not already achieved sainthood just by living with me for more than 27 years, and should receive her halo any day now — convinced me that a trip to the emergency room might not be a real bad idea. I agreed, weakly.

We spent the rest of the day, until nearly 10 p.m., at the Denton Regional Medical Center, with an IV in my arm, dripping fluid back into my dehydrated self, along with some medicine to keep me from being sick again. She had a book I had conveniently and thoughtfully bought her for Christmas. I at least had a somewhat comfortable bed to rest in. She had a hospital chair. Did I mention sainthood?

The doctors, after a considerable amount of poking and prodding on my person, which was much less entertaining to me than to them, let me go with the recommendation that I not eat anything solid for a few days. Not a problem. Gatorade, Jell-O and applesauce — my three new best friends.

For two days I was a zombie. For another I was merely useless. On the fourth I rallied a bit and got back to work. I even ate some solid food, chicken and dumplings, if that qualifies as solid. By Friday I sensed that I would survive yet another viral infection.

As I recently wrote, viruses will be the downfall of the world as we know it. And if it's this vile stomach virus, please let the end come quickly.