I know it’s been forever. Getting ready for the holiday and then a week with the in-laws and then I got home and shifted seamlessly from exhausted to sick. Where I am currently languishing.
If I spend more than a day or two feeling sick, I just start getting really pissed off. Because here’s what happens. I surrender. I say, “Oh, wow, I feel really bad, I should probably take some drugs and some vitamins and drink fluids and just go back to bed already.” And then I do that. And if that doesn’t make me feel better, I start getting pissed. Like, I did my part. I did all. the. things. I totally conceded the point, and what do I get for conceding the point? Nothing. Less than nothing: continued sickness. It’s really freaking aggravating.
I thought I was feeling better last night, and then this morning I woke up feeling like crap again. And I was like, “Hey, no problem, yesterday I was clearly on the mend, so I’ll just take some drugs and soon I will be right as rain.” I did not ponder whether “right as rain” is a stupid saying because, really, what’s so right about rain? I just took my throbbing-but-optimistic brain downstairs to get myself some cold medicine, then I plopped on the couch and waited for it to kick in.
First, okay, I’m talking like I carried my brain downstairs in, like, a satchel, and that’s because that’s how it feels when I am sick. Or hung over. Like all of that gray matter is an inflamed sore that is knocking against my skull, and every movement causes my bones to smack against the oh-so-delicate brain tissue—tissue, people! tissue is very delicate! it could totally disintegrate at any moment!–and cause, like physical micro-aggressions.*
Then I am on the couch exploring the internet while I’m waiting for the medicine to kick in, and that is not conducive to wellness. I mean, you guys, the world out there is distressing. I had a very weird reaction to that recent Tweet about having a bigger nuclear button: I felt a visceral sense of humiliation. I read once that we experience embarrassing memories differently from other memories because recalling them brings an emotional response as if the embarrassment is happening right at the present moment, instead of as something that happened in the past. So, theoretically, I can think of that moment when I wet my pants in 2nd grade and feel briefly like it just happened, and my stomach gives a little horrified squeeze. That’s how I felt about that Tweet, like this surge of humiliation in my belly as if I had said something so stupid and dangerous and ridiculous, or maybe just humiliation that this person is my president or whatever, but, like, a feeling like I am personally responsible for that Tweet. Which I am not. I know that, intellectually. Okay, I did not go door-to-door stumping for Hillary, but that doesn’t mean that I should feel a crushing, humiliating sense of responsibility because the person talking saying that is my president (and I know people say “Not my president!” but sadly that is bullshit. He is our president). And for sure there have been plenty of other stupid Tweets, and sometimes I even find these Tweets funny, but for this one–ugh, I just have to turn off the news if there’s a reference to it, I find it so personally humiliating.
So, whatever, the internet is not particularly healing, even though of course it’s a mixed bag, like the more encouraging story about Sarah Silverman being kind to a troll. That lady is a total peach, even if she does use the word “doodie” a lot, even, I’d argue, too much.
Twenty minutes had passed and I still did not feel better at all, so I abandoned my waiting game and went to DefCon 4, which is just climbing back into bed. Hell, it’s a Saturday morning. I can do that. I climbed into bed and pulled the covers to my chin and a pillow over my head (this is an excellent method for ignoring children, snoring, and meowing cats) and read for a few minutes before my eyes started closing and I decided I would fall asleep at any moment. But unfortunately when you are not distracted by the internet or a book you start to notice things, like the fact that you’re jockeying between not being able to breath because you’re so stuffed up and then blowing your nose so much that you realize that inhaling has become painful because the insides of your nostrils are chapped. And then you try to breathe through your mouth and your tongue dries out so quickly that it starts to become a small, hard, bumpy, concave bowl inside your mouth.
And that’s when the I start to get all rage-filled. I gave up, exasperated, on my supposed-to-be-healing nap and decided to go with a shower. This did not make me feel any better, either, but it did have the advantage of making me look better, and that’s not nothing.
At this point, I decided to stop accommodating the illness. To paraphrase a Great Philosopher*, “If you feel like shit, be productive while you feel like shit.”
That doesn’t mean I’m not still pissed. I stomped out of the shower and went raging into our linen closet to unearth our humidifier. I filled up that tank while cursing the winter dryness. Then I stomped downstairs and flailed around with the thank you notes that still need to be signed by every member of the family so that I can freakin’ mail them already. When I asked J where the blankets from last night’s Read-a-Thon actually belonged, she heard my tone and immediately leaped into action to start folding them, which was a miscalculation on her part. She was doing homework at the time, so I really just wanted to know where she’d gotten the blankets so I could put them back myself, but of course this is the kind of question I usually ask when I see she’s started watching her third tv show in a row, so it’s an easy mistake for her to make.
But really, it’s because folding blankets is about the level of complexity of tasks of which I have felt capable lately. Other mindless tasks have included pulling down all of the Christmas ornaments (actually organizing them into storage will wait), cleaning out my junk drawer, and doing data entry for work. I haven’t felt up for anything that requires much mental awareness, including writing. But maybe I’m capable of a rant.
And, yes, understood. This is just a freaking cold. I will officially count my blessings now so that the Universe doesn’t decide I need a lesson on what a real illness really means.
Stay warm, everybody!
*I do not mean to mock the term “micro-aggressions.” I totally believe in the validity of the whole concept of accumulated teensy bits of awfulness accumulating and making everything worse. And so I make this metaphor with all sincerity.