My Illness

It was the trout at Galena Lodge.

I knew something was wrong when I couldn’t get warm. But I chalked it up to too much air conditioning, everybody was complaining, but that couldn’t quite explain shivering and chill bumps two hours later, or could it?

You see it was illegal to be sick in the house I grew up in. If I told my mother I wasn’t feeling well, she’d advise I go to school and see if the cold maintained. You see her mother was a hypochondriac. As a result, even with insurance, in my family doctors are anathema, you’re supposed to tough it out.

But I’m at 6,000 feet and I’ve got leukemia and I’m sitting in the summer sun with a long sleeve shirt and a fleece vest and a hoodie and I’m still shaking, you’d think a trip to the infirmary would be advisable…

But not me!

So I was dropped off at the residence while my compatriots journeyed to dinner and my first goal was to warm myself up.

So I drew a bath. And remembering all my knowledge about frostbite I knew the water shouldn’t be scalding, then again I could feel my limbs, but what I’m trying to convey is how afraid I was, like I was gonna…die.

I mean I’m not sure how it happens. Sure, you could get into an accident and pass instantly, but if illness snuffs you out…does it fade, or is it instant? Are you vulnerable and then do you experience a whammy and go down for the count just like that?

Which is why I didn’t go to sleep, however tired I was, because I don’t want to go that way, I want to be wide awake, I want to see death coming.

And as the chills started to subside, I mixed in some truly hot water, but then I was afraid of drowning… I did tell you I was paranoid, right?

And I knew I should eat something even though I didn’t feel like it but all they had in the house was soup, and my system…

Well, this was after I ate the energy bars. That’s what they’re for, right, energy?

And I started drinking copious amounts of water.

And did I mention the diarrhea?

I mean the constitution of my system is not quite what it used to be, I used to be able to eat anything. Now I’ve got to forgo sriracha, and indigestion is my friend, so the fact that I had had numerous visits to the loo earlier in the day didn’t signal something more significant, but now I was truly out on the edge, terrified.

Eventually I had some protein, the duck that was reserved for dinner. But it didn’t get rid of the splitting headache. No, that’s not quite the right description, it was as if someone put my head in a vise and then whacked my noggin with a book.

And you’d think I’d be able to sleep, but I couldn’t.

And the next morning my diarrhea was just as bad so…

I sucked it up and went to the conference, albeit late.

But later, when we were on the back porch, hearing the Napster story from John Hummer, that old cold feeling started to seep back in. That chicken skin. And those shivers and shakes.

So I knew something more was required.

I figured it was anemia, my hemorrhoids had acted up as a result of all that time on the pot, and I wanted to stanch the bleeding which required smoother movements so I borrowed a car and drove to the grocery store for some Metamucil, to ease the passage, and once again I was shaking, absolutely freezing, I could walk, but very very slowly.

And as the evening wore on I could not rally. I held my head in my hands, feeling like a party-pooper, but that’s what my family does best, go along with the show, I felt I was unentitled to blow the whistle.

And last night I slept much better, but why were the sheets so wet?

And I’d loaded up with everything in my arsenal, not only the newly-purchased Metamucil but the stool softeners and anal bullets I travel with but rarely use but was so proud of myself for having in my old kit bag. I mean that’s the Boy Scout motto, right? Be prepared?

And I am an Eagle Scout. I mean how else was I supposed to get into college? And yes, I was approached by a homosexual at Boy Scout camp but now I’m WAY off point.

And the clerk said we checked in ninety seconds too late and our bags wouldn’t make the flight home. And that we’d have to pick them up tomorrow, because there’s only one flight to L.A. a day. And I’m running my mental checklist, is there anything in my bag necessary to ensure my health?

I didn’t think so, but it turned out to be a false alarm, our bags arrived.

And finally I was back where the air is thick and the altitude is low but my head was still not clear and suddenly, I felt like I had to go to the bathroom every five minutes.

This could not happen. I had nothing inside, no lunch, only a yogurt for breakfast.

What’s a poor boy to do? Certainly not play in a rock and roll band. I could barely watch TV.

So as the hours wore on and my anxiety flared I did what everybody does in a health crisis today, I Googled.

And that’s when I found my exact symptoms. Chills and diarrhea. Caused by undercooked fish. EUREKA!

Not that I’m better. I mean I’m better, but I haven’t recovered.

So do I go to the doctor now?

There’s nothing worse than having them say there’s nothing wrong.

But there positively was.

And I was an idiot not to take it more seriously.

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