Barring, y’know, Ebola or something, I really only get sick once a year, but it’s a doozy. My immune system seems to organize it like a body-wide event: “We’ll lock up every disease that attacks her this year, and then release them all on the same day.” “C’mon, it’ll be fun!” “Let’s do it again next year!”
I’m knocked off-kilter for at least 48 hours, sneezing and exhausted with a spiked fever and an earache and several symptoms I haven’t yet been able to place. My skin becomes hypersensitive; I can identify small breezes that indicate people two rooms away and one floor below have opened a closet door. It would be like a superpower if it wasn’t accompanied by the sinus system drainage and fatigue.
I usually miss some major life event, too, while I’m semi-delirious and trying to disappear into the couch. My sophomore year of high school I joined the cross country team before I realized I hated competitive running. For the entirety of the season I took my temperature before each meet, desperately hoping my annual illness would strike. It held off, of course, until New Years’ Eve, two hours before a community-wide cardboard box maze I had spent days helping to construct was about to open.
My 10th-grade mind felt so betrayed by my 10th-grade body.
This year it’s been pretty standard — I’ve gone through at least four boxes of tissues and bought the medicine that makes the cashier ask, “You’re 18, right?”
But it’s not all bad — I’ve read more “fun” stories and watched more superhero dramas in the past two days than I have in quite a while. I’ve caught up on sleep and snacked on chocolate chip cookies. And hey, staring at the same place on my wall for several limp hours has given me ideas for redecorating. Really, the annual illness is doing me a favor.
But I’m really looking forward to having energy again — being able to do basic things like, y’know, move without the thought I-hate-everything-why-am-I-not-asleep hovering in front of my consciousness. I’m counting on it being a 48-hour bug this year, because otherwise I’ll have to shop for groceries in this state, and nobody wants to see me selecting apples at the produce stand. (As a community service, if it comes to that, I solemnly swear to wear surgical gloves and one of those SARS masks, just in case.)
In the meantime, though, I’ll return to my couch — gazing incoherently at my walls until my eyes decide to shut, pondering if I have the energy to remember my Netflix password and hoping tomorrow, maybe, I’ll be back to normal, once again grateful for the glorious wonder of nature that is the high-functioning human body.
See you on the other side.