I made the mistake of mentioning to a few good friends recently that, miraculously, I had not been sick at all this past year. I knew that for certain because I had taken no sick days from work. Lucky me!
Of course, in the same breath, I noted that I should probably not be making such a pronouncement for fear of the inevitable “evil eye.” Well, I indeed should have kept my mouth shut.
About 10 days later the flu struck—with very little prior warning. The evening before I was feeling a little tickle in my throat, and voila, the next morning I couldn’t get out of bed. After the initial three days of misery, I even tried to go through the motions of getting ready for work the next day, only to realize I still had no energy and a ways to go. Now, a week later, I’ve still got a debilitating cough.
Of course, I’ve already been to the doctor twice as the symptoms keep morphing. I was told this flu strain could last two weeks! Egad!
A word about my normal energy level: very high. And my normal lifestyle: totally booked with work, friends, family obligations and extracurricular activities.
So, the first thing to go was this weekend’s trip to New York City to spend time with my sister, cousin and friends: I canceled two shows, the train and an exhibition. All very disappointing, not to mention costly. But such is life.
I’ve been reading a lot, watching some TV and mostly feeling miserable. In order to try to lift my spirits, I decided to examine whether any good can come, or has come, out of this seemingly endless and frustrating rest period. Here’s what I came up with:
- It could always be worse, and in some ways I’ve improved.
As the saying goes, this too shall pass. The doctor said two weeks. That seemed like a ridiculously long period of time, but this is the pattern they’ve observed, so who am I to question it? I no longer have a fever and though the cough rages on, overall I’m probably improved.
2. I am fortunate to have the ongoing support of my husband, family and friends.
They are making sure I have the food I need and have accompanied me to medical appointments as needed. My husband literally kept me from going back to work prematurely! My friends keep texting and expressing sympathy. It all helps.
3. I have a back-up team that was able to fulfill important medical appointments for my 99-year-old mother this past week. My cousin, son-in-law and husband all deserve medals for this excellent support.
4. I reconnected with two college friends whom I had wanted to write to but could not find the time.
This never would have happened had I not had the “luxury” of being so stuck all week. Now we have plans to reunite this spring, after a 30- to 40-year hiatus. Remarkable!
5. I now have an even greater appreciation of my “normal” everyday life.
When I got into the car two days ago to drive myself to the doctor, I realized how much I missed my little Toyota and the mundane aspects of life. I will sometime soon appreciate daily normal life with a new outlook.
6. “Patience, patience shall you pursue.”
A take on the biblical call for “justice,” patience is not my strong suit. But for now, I have no choice. Did you know that “patience” and “suffering “ derive from the same Latin root? And for good reason. I will endure this illness as I have no choice, and hopefully the experience will make me stronger.
7. Reading a good book.
On one bright note, I’m reading “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Usually I read about 15 pages a night if I’m lucky, but now I’m so “lucky,” I am devouring it! Thank goodness it’s such a page-turner and so relevant.
8. Writing this piece.
I love to write personal essays and engage in a bit of self-reflection, but have not had the time to do so in ages. Being sick allows me this small luxury.
So, to those of you who have or may contract the flu this season, my sincere sympathies. And to the rest of you just going through your mundane lives, business as usual, thank your lucky stars. Once I emerge back into the sunlight of normalcy, I won’t be taking it for granted. Indeed I look forward to the conclusion of my deeply disguised blessings.
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