I was pale and scary looking. I would bump around in the middle of the night, full of torment. People feared getting close to me. I would frequently brandish the signature move — a protective arm lift to ultimately bury my lower face in the crook of my elbow.
“Gewwwd eev-a--” Cough.
“Gewwwd eeeev-a--” Cough, cough.
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“Gewwwwd eeeeev-a-ning. I am…”
Something bit me in the neck. But on the inside pipe-ish area. The places where microorganisms land when one unwittingly inhales the winged spirits of petri dish matter. Earlier this month these sneaky little viral bats flew into my nostrils, latched on, and I became a miserable creature of the night.
As always, I played by the rules. I blocked the virus from others with my arm shield. Never with germ-spreading hands. It’s what the experts recommend. Not everybody has read the memo, obviously, but I live by the Dracula cough rule.
Like so many people flocking the pharmacy aisles, I, too, have lost a good chunk of time. What a brutal cold and flu season thus far.
Worse, I am unable to flash my Germ Cop badge this winter. I feel like a failure.
But short of a wearing a beekeeper’s helmet draped with a quilt of Wet Ones towelettes, nothing could have stopped an insidious, invisible droplet from floating in the air and straight into a poorly timed inhale.
I’m certain that’s how this whole thing happened because I’m vigilant about vigilance. Every day of the year, I carry stacks of 99.99 percent virus-killing hand wipe packets in my purse. I elbow my way out of public doors. I wash my hands until they resemble the texture of beef jerky.
But what’s the point? I should have just licked doorknobs in October to get the agony over with faster, because this monster had to be airborne.
Be to be positive, a sickness smackdown can give a person new perspectives. I suppose a pause from normalcy can make us thankful for the things we take for granted. Here’s a short list:
Swallowing. At the worst phase of this illness, the internal dialogue in my head went very much like, “You’re about to swallow a little saliva. It’s going to feel like a swirling ball of steel wool that has been lit on fire. Go.” The motionless moments between throat reflexes, coughing and talking were glorious. Otherwise, I considered logging onto Amazon Prime to search guillotines.
Costco. Back in August, I glanced at a wall of shrink-wrapped tissue boxes. With a “ya never know” shrug, I hoisted a former forest in my cart. This impossibly large supply is almost gone now. I consider my impulse purchase a case of clairvoyance. I. Am. Nostrildamus.
Pockets. Though I had the peak misery days off from walking the doggie, the aforementioned tissue supply still worked its way into every pocket of every coat, hoodie, and jacket I own. Robes and pajamas too. I also created “pockets” in sleeves, pillow cases and elastic waistbands. It’s going to take months to deal with the two-ply squirreling. Advance apologies to my lint trap.
Glancing downward. When I finally emerged from the Dracula underground, I was reminded how recovery from anything is not exactly a light switch situation. Once my energy and voice had returned and the hacking cough was a memory, it was time to be a person again.
On a dark, frigid night, about two weeks after the first neck bite, I appeared at a fairly empty grocery store. All went well until I looked down to sign the credit card screen. Out of nowhere, my left nostril became a leaky faucet.
Before I could reach for one of the 700 tissues I had previously tucked away in all my outerwear, a visible, watery droplet fell from my nose and onto the front my puffy coat. There were witnesses.
Being sick is snot funny.
Yep. That immature quip sucked, but what can one expect from a recovering vampire?
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Denisesnodell