Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adding Insult to Injury

It's bad enough to be growing older at what seems an accelerated rate but it's awful to be ill at the same time. I'm not talking about terminal illness or progressive illness. I'm about to whine about the ordinary, common cold.

It started with a sneeze, which I attributed to the appearance of the sun, which hasn't shown up here for day after cold, gray day. I usually sneeze in the sunlight so I didn't give it a thought until I felt that suspect little tingling that means, "This is not a sunlight sneeze. This is your nose on a COLD. And it's going to be a doozy."

Sure enough, not an hour later, I felt the familiar ache and malaise that accompanies congestion. My eyes began to water. I sneezed at increasingly frequent intervals and went through half a box of tissue in twenty minutes. I sucked down a glass of Emergen-C, popped a couple of aspirin, and lay down on the sofa, thinking a short nap might make matters better. I sat up almost immediately, unable to breathe in a prone position. I gathered pillows, a quilt, the cat (as a foot warmer) and propped myself up on the sofa. An ungodly rattling noise woke me and spooked the cat. It was just me, snoring. I had toppled over and was constricting my own airway.

Soup was what I needed but making soup requires energy. I had none. Tea, that's what I'd have. I sat while the kettle came to a boil, disproving that old adage about the pot never boiling, etc. Measuring the leaves, pouring the water, ladling in the honey took every ounce of oomph I had left. I was almost too tired to sip.

Bed was the place to be. I hauled the pillows and the quilt back to the bedroom, arranged everything just so and climbed in. My back ached so I climbed back out and hunted up the heating pad. In bed once more, I realized I'd left my tea on the kitchen table. Out I climbed and back in, shivering now. Two pillows didn't seem enough. There were two more stored in the trunk at the foot of the bed but the thought of that hundred mile journey was enough to make me settle back, grumbling, against the two I had. I sipped my cooling tea, took note of every ache and sniffle, and let tears of self pity and moroseness ooze down my cheeks. I wanted my mother, and my tissue box was still on the sofa.

Feverish dreams pursued me in the dark of night. When I'm sick I dream of numbers that repeat themselves over and over. I dreamed of tally sticks that wouldn't tally and numbers that floated in soup like alphabet letters, never adding up to the correct amount. I woke exhausted.

I remember having head colds as a child. I remember the sore red nose, the scratchy raw throat, the head and body aches, but I also remember functioning despite all that. A mere cold never sent me to bed. Now the very thought of heaving this sad sack of skin and bones out of bed and into the work day was too much to bear. I reached for the phone and called in sick. We're only allowed three sick days in a row before a doctor's note is required. On Wednesday, I'm calling in dead.