Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sick and Tired

No, this isn't a rant about some asinine topic that only I care about... I'm sick and tired in every literal sense of the words.

It is very rare that a bug will get the better of me, and I like to think that because I don’t ever go to the doctor or take medicine, every time I get sick and miraculously survive, I’m somehow stronger, more fortified against any future ailments, more prepared for the next wave of flu or whatever virus is floating around. So far, nothing has happened to prove my theory wrong; a super bowel-busting buggy will sweep through the house, laying to waste most every mortal soul on two legs, and everything around me begins to resemble a hospital ward… but I come out on the other side unscathed. I’m like Superman, laughing in the face of influenza.

I don’t know why. I have just as much contact with everyone else in the house as everyone else does, so my “fortified” theory gains credibility each time. The bad side of my invincibility is that, when everyone’s moaning in their beds for a drink of water, some medicine, soup, crackers or to be smothered out of their misery by a pillow I’m the one in the house that get saddled with nurse duties when the bad tidings of illness come creeping. The joke’s on them, however, because I’m not that good at it. “Suck it up,” is one of my more memorable suggestions to the ailing masses. “You gonna waste your day in bed?” These comments usually illicit dirty looks and occasional threats: “Wait until it’s your turn.”

But it never comes.

That said, I spent most of last week wondering what sort of strain of illness had commandeered my body, leaving me a sticky, sniffy, sneezy, drippy mess, not to mention a couple of other factors that let to a really horrible seven days. It started with a headache and it ended with a headache, and about two or three times an hour, a deep, throaty cough dredges up a horrible concoction of God knows what kind of greenish-pale yellow bile-ish goop that’s best spit out in the sink.

Last week, I was at an awards dinner for Glendora's Citizen of the Year and just when they are starting into the speeches, whatever was damning up the river in my nose broke and a river of ooze began to sweep the natives downstream. Ever since I was in U.S. History in my junior year of high school, I hated people that sniffed or constantly cleared their throats. The guy that sat behind me cleared his throat and sniffed probably two hundred times in the course of a fifty-minute class, so every time I’m in this particular situation, I always think that when I sniff, those around me are plotting my death. My mother was sitting next to me, and she did offer me a Kleenex in that, “stop it, you’re bugging the hell out of me” voice that mothers have a knack for without being obvious, but there’s one thing worse than sniffing in public and that is blowing your nose in public. I refuse, regardless of the costs. It is one of the most reviling, disgusting acts imaginable, especially by those that use cloth “hankies” and then they stuff them back in their purse or pocket. Yuk, so I waited for the laughs and the applause to sniff up my brains that were slowly seeping from my face. I know, it’s gross, but there was nothing I could have done to make it any better. Had I blown my nose, I surmised, it just would have been a sign to the mucus makers lodged in my nose that it was okay to grind out more and I would be back to square one. The catch is that my nose would be cleaned out, slick, with nothing to slow down the deluge.

And I’m left with the residuals: sinus blockage (my best guess). I feel like I’ve been slugged in the back of the jaw, and every time I open my mouth wide to yawn (which I just did while typing the word “yawn”… anyone else?), a racking pain throbs its way up the side of my face, around my left eye socket and into my head where it clatters around, taking up what seems like a permanent resident as a full-blown, twenty-four-seven headache. Sometimes, I just have to sit there and think about it and my jaw begins to ache. Try this: Clinch your teeth together as hard as you can for about two hours. That’s how it feels, much like a leg cramp or a root canal (not that I would know as I’ve never had one).

I broke down and took Excedrin yesterday morning and it might as well have been jelly beans because it had zero affect… so I spent the morning laying on the couch, watching all of last week’s shows I missed, wondering at what point my head will tear open.

On top of which, for the past week, I’ve been waking up every morning as if it was the day after the big prize fight and I was the loser, pummeled about the head and shoulders by some monster three weight classes heavier than me. From my shoulders to my hips, everything is sore, creaky and bent, as if I’ve aged to 90 overnight. Getting out of bed takes a good five minutes before all of the parts wake up, stretch out and lose their stiffness. Some of it was just plain painful, like bedsores… and having bedsores after only six or seven hours in bed is just silly. I think the mattress is softing out on us, because I’ve been experiencing some level of back pain for a number of months now and sleeping in on the weekends (the only thing I really look forward to anymore) just isn’t the same, more painful than enjoyable. Laying down at night is like plopping into a bed of Jell-o. Granted, Kara and I don’t come crashing together into a giant divot in the middle of the bed, but I can certainly discern the small gorge where I’m losing the battle of gravity. In another couple of years, I’m sure my back will be touching the box spring.

It didn’t help that I pulled a muscle in my neck when I sneezed last Thursday. I should really stop being polite by turning my head when I sneeze and just let it go straight on, damn all who are in the way. During Easter dinner a few years ago, I turned away from the table to sneezed and it was as if someone planted a hatchet squarely in my spine. I had to lay down on the floor, and I couldn’t walk upright for a week Every time I moved, sat down, laid down, rolled over in bed, adjusted the seat in my truck, or took in a deep breath, it was like shards of glass scraping down the insides of my back. That might have been the last time I actually shed tears from hurting myself.

And every now and again, I can feel it pull. If I lift of something heavy and awkward… or sneeze, I can feel the exact same pain in the exact same spot and it is as if I’m just a microsecond away from snapping my spine and ending up in traction for six months.

At least the backboard would be hard, and I might just get a good night’s drug-induced sleep.

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