Life During Sicktime

I’m  unsure if I ever shared the story about being told that I had cancer here before — I didn’t, it was a pretty severe misdiagnosis — but it’s something I thought about a bunch back when I was sick a couple of weeks ago, which prosays something about where my head was at during that plague week.

It wasn’t just that I was sick, again, after having been similarly sick a month earlier, although that was as exhausting and, honestly, as depressing as it sounds. (There was a feeling of, is that just what this year is going to be, with me in bed for a few days with a spiking fever every month?, I have to admit; can you blame me? And that was before my back went.) It’s that I was struggling against the sickness at the same time that news of the coronavirus was spreading, and my latent hypochondriac tendencies had a thing or two to say.

I didn’t think I had the coronavirus, I should say that right now. The closest I’ve ever come to that was the sickness in January, when news of the virus was first breaking and I asked the doctor what the odds were and she basically made fun of me in response. That reply, it seems, was basically enough to put that idea to bed, even in this more recent go-around as people were being diagnosed with it closeby. It didn’t seem like an option.

Nonetheless, I became very aware of how dangerous viruses were, how inexplicable, and as the sickness steadfastly refused to leave my body, I kept thinking about, imagine just suddenly finding out that this was what it was going to be like from now on. I didn’t think that I was going to die, but I did think, what if I never actually get better and this is it?

I knew that wasn’t really the case, of course; as quickly as I got sick, the recovery came: By day three, every morning I woke up and felt appreciably better. But I couldn’t help myself but think back decades to that bad diagnosis and wonder, what if a doctor just told me, “you’ll live, but you’ll live like this, weak and short of breath and every now and then you’ll have a coughing fit that will end with you on your knees, crying.” What would that be like, knowing that?

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