I‘d recently boasted to a sick friend that I never get sick. Then whammo the hammer fell. Sick? Me? It had been years! But there was no mistaking the progressive worsening of my breathing, a deep guttural cough that ripped apart my ribs and sternum and my foggy head that wouldn’t allow me to concentrate to read or enjoy anything on TV. I couldn’t even sit still for long before breaking into coughing spasms. And lying down to sleep? Forget about that; I couldn’t even fall asleep at night let alone catch a few daytime zzzzs. Maybe the steroid was the culprit that pumped me with too much energy to relax and doze off. Between that pill, the steroid nose spray and the doxycycline I was supposed to feel better in a couple of days. So much for the doctor’s promise. Instead I got worse and the upper respiratory distress went deeper and turned into bronchitis that called for a stronger antibiotic.
For the last two weeks of April I wondered if I’d ever feel like me again. Was I destined to fight for breath, cough my ribs apart and sound like a croaking frog when I tried to talk? Would I ever fall asleep again? While I wandered around the house and yard feeling sorry for myself and caught an hour or so of TV at night before retiring to my bed to sit the night away — I realized the following ….
- Breathing is not over-rated. That silly comment has always been my stand by retort to my husband each time he reminded me that 5 cats and 1 dog are enough animals for 1 household. That his asthma, though controlled and manageable, is not a pleasant experience in the pollen capitol of the country here in E. TN. He’s used to not breathing easily. I’m not. And this experience is enough to make me consider relocating to a better ventilated part of the country.
- I’ve always taken my good health for granted. Now in my late 50s it’s rare for me to be under the weather. I’ve had a couple of health scares in my life, but just a couple. OK, maybe a few and when they occur they’re doozies. I don’t tend to get something simple, instead it’s things with weird symptoms, one series of which prompted a trip to the Mayo Clinic to discover it was cat scratch fever. And then there was a surreal episode of transient global amnesia which lasted probably 12 hours when my short-term memory took a vacation, leaving me no idea what day it was or what any of my calendar notations meant. Doctors still don’t know what caused it or whether it will ever happen again.
- My discipline comes from outside. Who knew that my habit of snacking in the evenings in front of the TV was easily controlled by the dictates of an antibiotic that required an empty stomach for a final night-time dose. Never mind that I’ve been trying to stop that pesky snacking for years. Now, suddenly, because I wasn’t allowed to, I didn’t. What’s wrong with my personal self-discipline?!
- I’m a bad patient. Because I’m so rarely sick (notice I didn’t say never?) I don’t do sick well, especially if I can’t do something productive with time in the house. Can’t read, watch TV, don’t want to eat or cook and can’t even sleep. Yech. Just wandering around and moaning was my activity of choice, that and feeling sorry for myself. When I’m well I subscribe to the Buddhist notion that suffering can be avoided by accepting that life is filled with peaks and valleys and there will always be bad times as part of the human condition. But somehow when I was sick, I chose to suffer. At least I was able to observe that, right?
- Bug bites can be bad. Who knew? Working in the garden is fraught with potential disaster – fire ants, spiders, ticks, bee stings are all conspiring to make yard beautification dangerous. A couple of years ago a thorn prick on my arm turned into a staph infection, again requiring antibiotics. This year something jabbed my thigh and caused an allergic reaction. I still don’t know what got me, though we’ve pretty much ruled out most things, leaving a spider bite as the highest probability.
So I’ve certainly lived April and the beautiful, calming curves of the conch shell signifying another month lived belies the turmoil in my life this month. I suppose they can’t all be good. And I have come out the other end, well again. For that I’m extremely grateful. On to May …
How was your April?