I’ve not ever really dealt that well with the mild levels of sickness.
Partly because it just plain didn’t come up that much. When I was a kid I once overheard my father talking about the differences in the way my brother and I got sick – my brother was frequently sick, but it was always something minor, and he bounced back after only a couple days, or it was common; something a whole lot of other kids were getting and the pediatrician would already have stacks of prescription slips ready to be filled out with potential patients’ names, almost.
“But as for Kimmy,” Dad said, pointing to me, “she doesn’t get sick much, but when she does, it’s a doozy.” The same things that my brother took two days to shake would lay me low for a week and a half if I got them. Or Mom would bring me to the doctor and she’d look at me, brow furrowed, and then mutter something like “that’s just…..weird.” It’s a pattern that’s held up ever since – I’ve never had anything life-threatening, just serious and unusual. I’ve had heartburn that’s somehow felt like a panic attack, I once had a a case of strep throat in which I manifested all the symptoms except for actually being infected with the strep bacillus, and a gynecological thing that was so rare that my own doctor had to look it up in her old med school textbook when I called to ask her about it a week after the fact.
But part of it is also just plain stubbornness about my body not working properly. Unless it’s something serious, I just plain don’t like having to bother about my health. It’s taken me nearly 40 years to come around to the notion that vitamins are occasionally good things to take, and even so I still frequently forget. If I have any muscle aches I tend to want to take just one pill and be done with it; a doctor once literally prescribed me the recommended dosage of over-the-counter Advil because I was just taking one pill every other day to soothe a seriously knotted shoulder. When he heard I wasn’t treating myself once every four hours like I could have been, he just stared at me and said, “er, it’s the recommended dosage for a reason.” I had major abdominal surgery once, and I actually was okay with the after-surgical pain – however, I was thoroughly cranky because I often like to like on my stomach while I read, and whenever I did that it hurt and I’d whine about how my body had cruelly betrayed me.
This has all come to a bit of a head over the past couple years. I’ve always had somewhat unusually-behaving sinuses, but in the past that’s only meant some dizziness whenever I had a cold. But a couple years ago, I started noticing I was getting a chronic dry throat and stuffy nose in the morning, starting at about the time all the landlords in New York turned their heaters on in winter. Like being on the cusp of a cold but without tipping all the way over. Then one night, while an old boyfriend and I were turning in at his place, he remarked on my near-constant throat-clearing and offered to set up his vaporizer. I watched dubiously as he set up an ancient-looking gizmo next to the bed – but the next morning was the first in a week that I’d had a clear nose. “I bet it’s the dry air,” he said. “The heaters just dry all the air out all winter and it’s probably that your nose has been trying to compensate.” One of my first acts after he broke up with me was to look for a vaporizer of my own, and ever since I dig that out of the closet with a sigh every winter, after a few stubborn days of sore throat.
And then this year I suddenly added allergies to the party. A stuffy nose every morning, followed by huge sneezing fits. Once I even woke up my roommate, who actually once slept through an ambulance breaking down outside on the BQE. I took every treatment I could get my hands on, but there were still mornings when it didn’t make a dent. I finally broke down and got a small air purifier out of desperation, thinking that I could at least take care of the air in my bedroom and at least get decent sleep out of it.
The purifier has been set up in my room for about a month now, and I turn that on every night. This afternoon I realized it was time to break out the vaporizer, and I’ve been trying to research whether I should have just one of those in the room, or both – but feeling faintly ridiculous the whole while because I’m a human being, and I’m being forced to treat myself like I’m a bloody orchid.