Sunday, December 08, 2013

Coming Out On the Other Side

It is Saturday afternoon and finally, after thirteen long and cough-racked days, I feel a whiff of energy and a returning enthusiasm for life. Happily for Earl, I am no longer behaving like a sick cat holed up in a dark place, looking through slit eyes, scratching and snarling when messed with. For an entire week, everything he did or did not do infuriated me. We are both sick with this dreadful cough, but I have not been a pleasant sick person.
The good news this afternoon is that I am no longer coughing until I feel my ribcage shifting and fatigue wafting through my breath. This throat of mine is finally losing that incessant tickle on the right side which always led to multitudinous coughing fits. My arms and legs ache less today and I actually feel like 'doing something' other than taking a book to bed. Thus this blog post.
Earl and I were struck down with this coughing bug after Caroline, Charlie Bean and Lulu arrived on a Thanksgiving visit from Seattle. We had several pleasant days while I still felt well enough to function as mom and grand mom. We were all disappointed with the weather which was in the 40s, cloudy, grey and raining. Caroline had been hoping for mellow sunny late fall weather. Instead she got more Seattle weather.
She and I visited Poe Elementary School with the kids and she showed off her sixth grade classroom, which still has the same mural above the blackboard, her first and second grade corridor, the library and the cafetorium. The school has added more hallways, but some things do not change. 
When Charlie had play dates with Earl's grandson Tavo, Caroline and I took Lulu with us to shop on Harwin Drive (that's Lulu in a blue scarf tent of her own making) and we showed her Philip Johnson's Water Wall. 
I didn't feel great, but I was up and running. On Wednesday afternoon, Earl came home from the studio and fell into bed. He never got to John and Trish's for the big family Thanksgiving gathering and the first time to see Carrie and Robbie's new baby Rosemary.
Caroline and the kids escaped back to Seattle the day after Thanksgiving without catching the coughing bug. Earl and I have been in bed ever since. This demonic head and chest cold worsened with each passing day. We've been 'too bad off' to do anything.
Every day of this week, I cancelled plans which had been made with pleasant anticipation. I did not attend an American Leadership Forum reception for retiring president Harriet Wasserstrum, was too flat to enjoy the annual Women in Transition holiday party, neither of us had energy for Wednesday's luncheon benefiting Houston Botanic Garden or Friday evening's Poe-Co Parents Annual Holiday Potluck. And that weekend workshop in San Antonio? Who could take the drive, much less function with enthusiasm for two days? Life just sailed on by day after day as we stayed put in bed.
I am pouring blue liquid from my third bottle of Mussinex cough syrup. I sucked an entire box of Fisherman's Friend cough drops and took aspirin for muscle aches and on Thursday began to take Earl's cough suppressing Benzonatate. None of this medication gave more than temporary symptomatic relief. Both of us continued to cough and cough and cough. And feel a total lack of energy. Worse cold I've lived through in years. Who gets chest colds like this one? If stuff like this is always floating around, then I've been lucky for a long time.
On Thursday afternoon, I ventured out for two long-ago scheduled doctor's appointments. And on Friday morning, out again for an annual physical that included a long overdue bone density test and a chest X-ray for the cough. While I was getting lab tests, Earl went to his Friday breakfast, his first outing of the week.
So there you have it, the sum total of the last ten days. Nothing more to say except that we watched two seasons of Mad Men. The plot lines of each episode got more and more bizarre. Is there a character on Mad Men with personal insight? Most are miserable or about to be miserable. Women are treated with derision and disdain. 'Negros' are the unknowable other. And Jews are often not allowed, or not until the fifth season. No one is happy. So much alcohol is consumed. Most of the men are alcoholics. Which came first? Lack of self knowledge or alcoholism? BTW, when did day time drinking at work stop being acceptable?
Mad Men was not the show we should have been watching while sick in bed. Certainly not good for our recovery. But we watched it anyway. Like picking at a hang nail.
This morning, after Thursday's first dose of antibiotics, I was suddenly so chipper that I begin to weed books from my library shelves. Examined three shelves and filled three grocery bags. Many of these deaccessioned books will go with my friend Sally to a homeless shelter in need of books. By the time I am finished, they will have a reasonably stocked library. The books I bagged today were purchased/read in the late 1980s when I audited religious studies classes at Rice and was an elder at St. Philip Presbyterian Church. I was on a search and wondered that if I had more knowledge of the gospels and Jesus himself, faith might follow. What I learned was interesting, but faith did not grow then or ever.
So, off to bed with a book under my arm. Thank heaven we've finished with Mad Men and thank heaven I'm feeling better at last.

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