Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I was so sick this past week that I’d wake myself up making dying pig squeals, but they turned out just to be wheezing. Dr. Borchers’ nurse did a nasal swab and I came up clean for the flu, swine or otherwise – the verdict was that I have an intestinal virus that’s going around and, if it’s a precursor of things to come, we’re going to be in a world of hurt when the real thing arrives.
Stock up on Imodium, Pedialyte (in the baby section, tastes like electrified water), mild soups, yogurt, ginger ale, hot water bottles and plenty of pet food – there’s nothing like a couple of hungry dachshunds oinking at you (speaking of swine) when you’re on the verge of a coma.
I had just been talking to a friend who was felled by this mother of common viruses, but I didn’t know you could catch it over the phone. Two days later all of my bones and joints felt as if they had spent a week on the rack, and all of my muscles, including my brain, ran away to the land of unmatched socks.
Instead of getting better day by day, it got worse. Started on Tuesday, double vision by Wednesday, fever and chills on Thursday, bedridden Friday, ready for the ICU on Saturday but kept reassuring myself it was just this nasty thing going around.
Friends took care of me, some more tenderly than others (“You don’t look a bit sick to me.”), and agreed to put on my tombstone the logo of the Historic Preservation Task Force, the outfit I suspected had sapped my immune system as well as my will to live.
Unable to read or bear the terrible noise and flaring lights of TV, I listened to disk after disk of books on CD in a darkened room, drifting in and out of a heavy fog while Nicky and Freddie, worried to distraction, snapped at each other under the covers.
I had chills so deep I knew what it would feel like when I’m set out on the ice floe – my hands and feet completely numb, body shaking, teeth chattering. Huddled under two down quilts in a 70-degree room, wearing fleece pajamas, hat and socks, my inner thermostat went completely out of whack, racing from 96 degrees to 101.5 with no rhyme, reason or warning.
My previews of hell came when the chills abruptly stopped as I was dropped like a hapless lobster into a vat of boiling water. I would wake up flailing, my head soaked and dripping, ripping off blankets and fleece gasping for a breath of cool air.
I will not mention the dreams.
It is now Tuesday, a full week into this little unpleasantness that’s going around, and I am happy to report that I am marginally better, meaning that I can be up and about for almost an hour, enough time to tend to the most critical emergencies without collapsing back onto the bed.
While the energy level is minimal, the achings of the bones and joints have subsided to a tolerable level, the intestines have calmed and the hot and cold flashes have abated. It appears that I will survive, but I am not yet at the point where this is good news.
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“Since the COVID pandemic began, personal touch and hugs have been absent within society. Sharing joyful and sorrowful moments have forced us all to lose connection with each other. Being deprived of touch and affection is definitely causing social, emotional and mental health concerns,” writes Judson Haims.