Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sick Denials

I have returned to the world of the living. I hate being sick. It is a series of self-delusions amplified by denial and the physical pain of disease.

The first hint of sickness is an understandable one, “I have a mild sore throat. It will go away and I shouldn’t worry. It’ll be all ok.” So I went about my daily business, ever conscious that the sore throat wasn’t the normal morning mouth dryness.

And the sickness started to thrive. The sore throat turned into a fire, my head started to swell, and St. Patrick’s Day entered night. When I emerged from the Center House theater I was already on a self-destructive course that would be driven by my denial.

On my walk to the bar to meet Ciera, Roger, and Chelsey I told myself that I was warm enough in my light sweater. I wasn’t. I told myself that the pain in my throat was insufficient to ruin my night. And I drove ahead full bore. I drank to celebrate the Irish holiday, and under some misguided precept that the alcohol would act like a pain killer. It did.

At three in the morning the pain killer effect wore off and I remembered with the awful clarity of 20-20 hindsight that alcohol brings with it some pretty nasty side effects. My nose was stuffed like a teddy bear and my whole body was crying out for normal. Regular sleep, one clear nostril, a throat not swollen shut, and a body not trying to escape from itself. I hate that feeling the most and it was the most preventable. For future reference drinking with a cold makes hangovers awful and cold symptoms many times worse. The full body ache was exercise without the fun.

At that moment I was transitioning from drunk to hungover—two states where the decision-making process is severely compromised. This was further exacerbated by the restless sleep I had been having as a result. “At least I’m not sweating,” I thought to myself.

I got up and went to the bathroom, trying to reorient myself. If only a little bit. I went back to bed and drifted off for a brief moment.

I woke up sweating profusely. My body was tearing at itself. My head was pounding. My throat was on fire. And my stomach was so sore that I could barely take a sip of water. And I told myself in that moment of extreme physical discomfort that I could make it through the night without taking a decongestant or painkillers.

I got up again and went to the bathroom. For 20 minutes I stood in the bathroom in my underwear—alternately shivering and sweating—convincing myself that I could survive this. A fever was a good thing, if I let my fever continue it would burn through my cold and I would be better sooner. Early morning logic is not always the best. I stared at myself in the mirror. I had dark circles under my eyes and I could barely breathe. Who was I kidding?

When I finally found the Nyquil tablets I encountered my second hurdle. The liquigels are enormous. With a throat that is closed up, it is almost cruel to ask them to swallow pills of that size. I lamented the idiots that designed the pills and reluctantly swallowed them.

I then restlessly sweated in bed until the pills kicked in. At some point in the morning I awoke to Ciera leaving. I would be alone for the next few days.


And I denied that I needed help or that her absence would significantly affect me. It did. Healing is much easier when someone is there to make you soup and keep you company.

At this point in the sickness the denials become much easier. I’ll enjoy staying home. I’ll catch up on work. I’ll get better. I’ll go to work on Monday.

I went to work on Monday. I went home because I couldn’t stop sweating. But I told myself that it wasn’t that bad.

I stayed home all today. I watched terrible tv shows. And I told myself, “they aren’t bad.”

I didn’t shower. I didn’t shave. Until just now.

I was rejuvenated. I felt human again. My senses returned. I washed off days of sweat. I put on clean clothes. And the denials stopped for a moment. I’m still sick, but I’m getting better and I will be good enough to go to work tomorrow.