Manoli’s Three-Legged Misadventures


Imagine my alarm Wednesday morning when, just as grandmother was about to go to the hospital for surgery, I saw Manoli hobble about on three legs. Continue reading “Manoli’s Three-Legged Misadventures”



It was about seven in the morning and my thermometer was burning steadily at around 39 °C. The sun seemed in no hurry to rise, and a certain gray, oppressive mood hung over this side of the world. I had to get up and take care of some little business that I had, and so I tried.

I was at the bathroom, about to brush my teeth, when a surge of nausea rose to my throat, followed by a fluttering of the heart. The world tilted like a storm-tossed ship as my body lost balance. The cold, hard titles around me presaged a cold, hard fall.

By some miracle of familiarity, I managed to retrace my steps through my darkening world and back into my room, throwing myself headfirst toward what I hoped would be the bed (and not the wall). It turned out to be soft — just what I needed. I lay there on it curled up and still with my slippers on and breathed in and out the calm that settled over me.

Half an hour later I was up and about again, and so was my nausea. Standing up or sitting only made matters worse. Only lying down seemed to help. But fortunately, my world did not overturn again, neither that day nor on the days that followed.

For a couple of days, I took to my bed, hardly eating or writing anything, and struggling to read from The Magic Mountain. The gray and wet weather, the constant absence of the sun, and the overall sensation of oppressiveness that my body sent me left me wretched indeed. It is a sad realm that the sick man is banished to, where neither food, nor words, nor other people can reach him.

At least I could sleep. What a blessing sleep is and how it saves us when we need it the most. How maddening life would be if we were not able to forget our flesh for a few hours every day in dreamless slumber!

The fever seems to have gone away. Now I still feel a bit peculiar and do not yet concentrate as easily as I would like to. My doctor mentioned a viral infection and labyrinthitis, that is, inflammation of the inner ear. Let us hope things are indeed so simple.

For now, I have returned to near-normal writing and reading levels, which is to say, to peacefulness. I’m once more climbing to the airy heights of The Magic Mountain, inhabiting a place that’s not on any map and that yet feels so familiar…


Fever Time


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.

*Photo by Armando Ascorve Morales on Unsplash