Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ode to Ailments

Back in the late 80s/early 90s, my then-husband and I had a few TV shows that we watched regularly. L.A. Law brought its fast-paced dialogue and array of characters to interesting story lines, while thirtysomething consistently presented its small cadre of Philadelphia yuppies, going through the motions of their quietly intense lives.

I liked both series for different reasons, though I think I was more entertained by the L.A. Law collection of personalities. Sure, I was intrigued by the thirtysomething crew, but I couldn’t exactly relate to their circumstances. And the earnestness they brought to everything they did (particularly in the scenes of domestic life) became tiring at times. Still, then-hubby and I kept watching.

There was a dialogue once between Hope (the ultimate earthy-crunchy mother) and her friend, Ellyn (who may still be looking for Mister Right). Hope was commenting on childbirth, and her statement was this, “The body does not remember pain.”

Although I’ve never given birth, and so I cannot claim to compare any discomfort I’ve experienced to whatever happens during that event, I have known pain. Stomach flu, food poisoning, and the kind of toothache that foretells a root canal leap to mind. Not fun. And I appreciate the fact that, once the malady has passed, the body cannot remember the pain.

But the flip side also is true. When one is ailing, the body cannot remember “well.” And if one is ailing – however mildly – for more than a few weeks, that amnesia can get under the skin and mess with one’s otherwise positive outlook on life.

I spent about six weeks, beginning in early April, with a plugged-up ear. Not painful; just disorienting. As that was clearing up – thanks to drops and visits to the doctor – I caught a head-cold. (It began the minute I returned the rental car I had used during the week of visiting Mom in Virginia.) After a few days of coughing and laying low, I began sneezing (you might have heard me). Apparently, a lot of people in the L.A. area are dealing with allergies these days.

The fog of those sinus issues has continued, and I’m damn tired of it. By my calculations, I’ve not remembered “well” for two months now.

I realize these are minor complaints in the great scheme of things. I know I sound whiney. But, until “well” becomes my normal again, I won’t be able to fake it. I’m pissed off, plain and simple.

… That reminds me of a phone conversation I had with my sister many years ago. I think I was still in college, in fact. She called to chat, and I happened to be sick. When I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling well, she immediately asked, “What are your symptoms?”

“Anger,” I replied, beginning the list that would include aches, chills, and other, more physical manifestations of that which had parlayed into a psychological inconvenience of equal proportions.


Jules said...

No wonder I forgot to add the coffee this morning, my sinuses are acting up. Thanks for explaining that. Guess my memory is on vacation as well. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

cj Schlottman said...


First, as is all of your work, this piece reads easily and flows. I like your way with words.

Now, go ahead and whine, My Child. I am giving you permission to whine and seek sympathy for as long as you need to. I, also, have a low tolerance for ailments, and I want to be pampered, fussed over and babied when I have one. I have a rare blood disorder that pops up its ugly head every few years - like now - and I want my MD and all of my friends to feel sorry for me. And I want it fixed - NOW.

Your Sister in Misery,

Deb Shucka said...

"Anger." Great answer full of deep truth, I'd guess. I'm glad your not-wellness doesn't seem to be interfering with your ability to write a powerful piece. Hope you feel better soon.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Sorry you've been feeling icky. Sounds like your immune system went off to the Caribbean and left you to cope with L.A. flu and allergy season alone. Your stuffy head might make you feel cotton-brained at times, but your fingers are still working, and your writing is sharp as ever. Thank goodness! :) Hope your allergies run their course soon. Feel better!

BECKY said...

Hi Katie! Well no wonder we haven't been hearing a lot from you. I grant you permission to whine as loud and long as you want! Sometimes it's those "minor" ailments that depress us the most, because we think we should still be doing all the things we normally HAVE to do and LIKE to do! I don't know about other women, but I tend to even be as silly as to feel guilty for not Keepin' on, keepin' on! :o
Hugs for a fast recovery!

Jayne Martin said...

Go ahead and whine. It's often said not to sweat the small shit. I say it's the small shit that'll kill you.

So sorry you've been ailing, my friend.

And I loved L.A. Law, but found the Thirtysomethings way too whiny.

Theresa Milstein said...

I have a cold now, so I can't remember what it feels like to be well. Although I can feel the pain I've experience, I can feel the echoes of it. We don't physically feel it, but nor do we forget it.