Tuesday, April 29, 2014
We Take It Personally
'Tain't fun, being sick. I never have liked it--though during my primary and secondary school days, I felt that sickness was a kind of a blessing: NO SCHOOL! (What could be better?) Sometimes, being home with something (flu, infection, test-itis), I was actually productive. I read Gone with the Wind while I was home in bed--and Look Homeward, Angel. Impressive, eh? Of course there were all those other times when I just lay on the couch and watched daytime TV--and in the 1950s, daytime TV was horrible. (When I lived in Amarillo, Tex., in the early 1950s, there were no TV stations at all. In Enid, Oklahoma, we had two or three. In Hiram, there were three until WUAB, Channel 43, arrived, as did others pretty soon via the wonders of UHF.) Soap operas and game shows.
I used to really hate being sick when I was teaching. It was almost easier to go to work than it was to do all the prep I had to do for a substitute--and then having to rearrange everything when I got back to class. So sometimes I dragged myself into work, probably infecting half my students in the process. In the spring of the first year I taught middle school (1966-67), I got some bug that put me down for the final four days of the week. When I got back, so much time had passed that I'd actually forgotten some names; it almost seemed as if I were starting a new job.
Fortunately, I didn't miss many teaching days because of illness--not in my entire career. And that was pure luck because public places are places to share illnesses.
Anyway, a little bit after noon this past Sunday, I started feeling Something Coming On. My muscles were aching; I suddenly had zero energy; I felt feverish. My body was shouting at me: Go to bed--or you will DIE!
But I didn't. I was still in the final stages of my Sunday bread-baking, and I had to wait until the two loaves were out before I could obey the imperatives my body was barking. But as soon as the loaves were out and on the cooling rack, I was upstairs in bed, and within moments of lying down, I was out. It was around 2, I think, when I hit the hay. At 4:30 I awoke--sick as a sick dog--staggered over to Joyce's study and told her she was on her own until further notice.
All I had for supper: some apple slices, Tylenol.
I slept off and on all evening, then watched the DVD of Red whose script I've virtually memorized by now. I turned it off about 9 (about the time they hook up with Helen Mirren) and slept like a dead thing all night--except when my Old Man self awoke and whispered urgently into my ear: Get up and go to the bathroom right now, or you'll be sorry! That whisper is one I ordinarily obey.
Joyce slept in the back room (wise move) but checked in on me before she left for her class at Hiram College. I may have grunted something intelligible--maybe not.
About 8:45 I woke up again and felt ... better. Remarkably better. I cleaned up ... felt even better ... and drove to Bruegger's (I usually walk or bike), where I did my usual morning work ... and I worked throughout the day--with only an hour's nap in mid-afternoon. And now, as I write this (6 p.m., Monday), I'm feeling virtually normal--at least as "normal" as a 69-year-old man can feel.
I sometimes see on Facebook some posts from friends who note that they're not feeling well and that it couldn't have come at a worse time. I've felt that way--a lot. But, of course, it's really nonsense, isn't it? Illnesses don't arrive to inconvenience us; they arrive because some evil virus or bacterium has moved in and has decided to multiply. (It's what living things do.)
I'm mystified by how quickly this particular virus/bacterium decided to move out and try greener pastures. And grateful, too: I have a presentation on Tuesday evening, and I don't want to reschedule it.
Right now, out my study window, I see a squirrel poking around in the pachysandra. He's probably looking for something he left there? Or something some other squirrel left there? Or maybe he's just cruising around having a good time, somehow knowing that his fine health and energy are fragile, evanescent things. The squirrel is right: We should enjoy them while we have them because, you see, the microorganisms have other ideas. And they always win.