Being sick is the pits, but it doesn’t have to be the total pits! While you are lying in bed, sweating through your sheets while simultaneously experiencing a coldness that will never subside, you can still accrue life points. If you are gaining life points then time is not a-wastin’ and you will be able to rest more completely whenever you finally let yourself rest. And you need to rest!
Whether you have a cold or a flu, a persistent infection of the sinus or the respiratory system, strep throat, earache, hayfever, measles, mumps, rubella — well, the list is as long and as varied as any medical dictionary — but no matter what you have, it is probably the worst you’ve ever felt. God knows the flu I just rapidly cycled through gave me lasting memories and a new inner strength that resulted from just surviving.
the Initial Stages of Sickness
The worst part of becoming ill is that it isn’t immediately apparent as to what you’re suffering from at first. This leads to mis-self-diagnosis and the loss of trust of anyone you told if you turn out to only have a sniffle after all. In these times, to be labeled a hypochondriac is an immediate Game Over and you will have no credibility for years to come, until or unless you develop something that nearly kills you. Bee careful. Watch your symptoms and err on the side of caution. Preface any health update with admissions that you COULD be wrong, but it “seems like” or “feels like” whatever is happening could be dire.
Most of these things tend to start similarly: sneezing, coughing, runny nose, sore throat. Look at the shelves in the pharmacy. There are several hundred different medicines that treat just those four things. Hilariously, they don’t always work! Or at least they don’t work well enough and you will become old friends with each symptom one by one or in small groups.
I used to get strep throat all the time when I was a child, so any instance of having any sort of sore throat terrifies me still. As soon as I get even the slightest trace of throatular soreness, I gargle with all the warm salt water, all the warm lemon water, all the steel wool scouring pads soaked in peroxide. It works! My tonsils look like the ghosts of criminal meatballs, but I have enjoyed good throat health for decades now. They look like Australian mugshots from 1906. Some might say that my tonsils are just so scarred up that they don’t allow germs to hold onto anything, but I know it is my practice of good medicine.
Sometimes, you will come down with more than just a common cold and you will have unpleasant symptoms that involve the gastrointestinal system. I am a refined and delicate lady, so I will leave Dr. WebMD to tell you all about that. Suffice it to say that if you are exploding from one end or the other, you might be too busy “trying to survive” to explain to everyone irl and online that you are filled with and rapidly emptying of woe. Be sure to take mental notes in order to play it all up later in story form. Tales of personal tragedy are a form of entertainment to some people. In fact, store it up to submit as an article here. Give Billy and OMGJeremy a run for their money.
Similarly, high fevers can be cause for concern. I am exactly as cool as a cucumber most of the time, so when I recently had a high fever that lasted for days, it came as a surprise to me because I had completely forgotten that fevers hurt! I lay there in a fetal position, not understanding why every piece of my body ached. I alone know this feeling. All of my friends and family might have been saying, “yes, Amanda, of course you are aching. Your body is cooking itself.” But only I could actually repeat that back to them, to let them know what it’s like. No one grew tired of my surprise. Everyone wanted to hear the same observations again and again. Excuse me, plz. I was addled.
As your body sweats it out, you become dehydrated and awful. Your lips will crack! Between this, raw nose, and possible fever blisters, you will be at your least attractive. Send pixx to everyone with eyes. Let them see your terrible descent. At this point, you may want to put the “quarantine” mark on your door. Who cares about spreading disease? No one should have to see you looking so crusty and disgusting.
Light a candle for your lost good looks.
Proper Social Protocol
The first thing you should have noticed as you felt that strange malaise that set in is that, generally, everyone around you is also falling ill, because “tis the season.” Most sickness comes at a certain time of year. The winter brings the worst because everyone is cooped up, breathing each others miasmatic stank breath. Even in summer, though, when everyone is breathing the fresh air filled with particulate matter and getting allergies, EVERYONE is suffering. The bottom line is that no one will have the strength to care because they will be having their own pity party. This is why you have to be the loudest.
While you are at it, make sure that anyone who is listening realizes that you are the only one who has ever suffered quite like this. No one has even come close. Even if you stagger from out of your room, and your house mate has collapsed in a pool of their own sick on their way to the bathroom, you are to step over them and make a mental note that they are being so dramatic. Then copy their move in front of someone who is healthy. They might pay you a little piece of pity before running in the opposite direction, afraid of your gross contagion.
Eventually of course you will just have to (loudly) drag your old carcass off to die because no one is left to care about you. Self-imposed isolation is a necessary form of therapy. Let others know you are still alive by distantly coughing, sneezing, and retching. Then emerge two days later feeling as fit as a fiddle, leaving this whole mess behind you. Wash your bed linens and be on your way towards sterling good health once again, certain that you will always be well from here on out, forever.