My Cold World
I got so excited this past rain that I convinced some friends to play with
me in the downpour.
"C'mon. How long has it been since you just played?"
We danced in the mud, splashed, and drank acid rain. Someone joked
about how we were going to catch pneumonia. I was already sick at the
time, but the rain was coming down in sheets and we were having such
a grand time...
I write you now with pneumonia.
This is my first time, so I'm kind of excited. I avoided pneumonia
for the first three decades of my life, but it looks like I've finally
grown dumb enough to catch it (it was just a matter of time).
The infection moved in like a fussy houseguest with no intention of
leaving, and although we didn't get along at first, it has come to
grow on me. Mostly, it's just a whooping cough and this stuffy feeling
in my brain like I've been crying for three years. The strange part
is that I've begun to take pleasure in it, and at the risk of promoting
an outbreak, I would like to take a moment to endorse the merits of
People spend so much time fighting colds. We come armed with Echinacea
and Golden Seal, vitamin C, Nyquil, Dayquil, and Late-Afternoon-Early-Evening-quil.
If we're not trying to "get on our feet," then we're "bouncing
back" or trying to "feel ourselves again." I was raised
to not feel myself at all, but the point is that if we simply let go
of the struggle, the common cold can bring a gift of transcendence.
Perhaps it's different for a sensible person, but my normal state
isn't such that I'm eager to return to it. I've come to see illness
as an altered state of mind that I don't have to pay for. But even
if you're a person who likes to wake up in the morning, my suggestion
is this: the next time you get a cold, lean into it because you just
might enjoy it.
A cold forces us to see the world with new perspective. It permeates
not only our body but our weltanschauung ("world view" for
the less pretentious). Under proper viral circumstances, we don't give
a damn about the trifles that run -- and ruin -- our daily lives.
So I'm 5 minutes late to my appointment. Sue me. I put the milk in
the cupboard after breakfast this morning? Bummer. Guess I'll take
a swig from my Robitussin and move on.
Here's an e.g.: Today, when I was in the doctor's office being diagnosed
as an idiot, the boorish nurse asked me if I had been taking the medicine
prescribed for me. I told her that I had been taking it off and on,
The nurse regarded me with those I'll-never-be-a-doctor-and-hate-you-for-it
eyes and said, "Well, that's like never taking it at all."
Under healthy circumstances, this would have been a declaration of
war. I would have vowed to have boor for lunch. But I didn't feel that
way today. Instead, I was composed and strangely present, in sync with
the ticking of the clock on the wall. I heard what she had said. I
didn't like it. But I did not picture her in pain.
"Yes," I said quizzically. "It is quite like that indeed.
Like having not taken them at all. Had I to do it over again, I wouldn't
have bought them in the first place..."
The nurse squeezed her eyes into a beady glare and smiled. "No.
You shouldn't have."
At that moment, the real doctor walked in and excused Nurse Ratched
from her charge. She smirked at me as she left the room, despising
her pawnhood on the chessboard of life. I returned her smile but was
not contemptuous about it. Really. I was genuinely pleased that she
was leaving the room.
The doctor listened to my lungs and asked me with a chuckle if I had
been playing in the rain. I told him that I had. He had a better sense
of humor about these things because he drives a BMW. He prescribed
some antibiotics and a lot of rest. Sleep?? I love to sleep. This gets
better all the time. The doctor and I discussed how much I love to
sleep. It turns out that he prefers the Sealy mattress to my Ortho
Spinalpedic, but he is not a connoisseur. So it goes.
I can't remember anything I've just shared, further testimony for
pneumonia. It may have been funny; it may have been like must of my
fluff. The important thing is that I'm having a great time because
I'm nestled smugly in my cold world, swimming in my sweet syrup of
The doctor said that my pneumonia will get worse if I don't take the
antibiotics; and although I may follow his instructions, I must admit
that I'm tempted to find out about pleurisy...