For the past few days I’ve been smoking mercury cigars – my head has been ebbing and flowing with a fever. A cough has nestled in my chest and interrupts me when I speak.
When you’re feverish, the bed calls to you. Promises you comfort. But while rest does soothe the feverish, I find that being up and about helps as well.
Last evening, after dinner, I lay down for a bit. I closed my eyes and tried not to think of anything. When I awoke, it was near midnight. A sense of loss tried me, for I had had noble plans for that evening – to read more of The Magic Mountain and to write a bit.
Getting down at that hour seemed to require more energy than I had. It seemed pointless. I tried to forget my disappointment in more sleep.
I awoke again around 03:00 a.m. Over the hush of the night, a soft rain was falling. I fought the coverlet off me and draped my fleecy robe over my shoulders. Wet by the rain, the street looked like an oil painting. I sat at my desk and began to revise the story I have been working on for many years now.
When you sleep alone, you are allowed such privileges in the middle of the night. Deep down, I was even thankful to my fever for giving me that peaceful moment while the rest of the world slept.
My doctor says it’s strep. He had put me on a five-day course of antibiotics. However, at the end of the treatment, I still tested positive. Now I’m waiting for the results of the throat culture.
I did kiss a girl a few days before the finding. I may have taken it from her. But then I wouldn’t trade my fever for that kiss. Even if we argued after. Even if she sent me home when I wanted most of all to stay.
I’m worried that it may be more than an infection, that the strep may only exploit a vulnerability in my immune system. Perhaps it is the tip of something more complex and dangerous, especially if I add the tiny palpable lymph nodes in my neck and my long-term weight loss.
I generally tend to imagine the worst. It spares me from surprises. I am a hypochondriac, but I like to think I am a rational one. Besides, other symptoms have been troubling me lately too.
Deep down, however, I am past worry. Things are as they are, and if I channel my attention on the present moment, in the simple act of stringing words together or turning swishing pages full of words that have survived the passage of time, I am free of all problems and concerns. Breathing in and out, I feel comforted.
To be passably ill can be an advantage for a writer. It is a state that encourages you to discard more flighty thoughts and focus the strength that you still have on things that you feel you have to do. It is a reminder not to take your health for granted. And we shouldn’t.
Not to be sick – that is a wonderful thing. Appreciate it with every breath, with every step, with every breath you take.