Monday, May 24, 2010

Feelin' Great?

What to write about today? I’m not sure – I’ve been doing very little for what seems like forever. Except coughing. At that I’ve become an expert. But at least I’m now on antibiotics and other kickin’ prescription medications, so hopefully I’ll be my normal healthy and extremely cheerful self really soon. Vince is probably hoping so, even though he knows I’m not exactly “extremely” cheerful. Ever. But I do think he’s getting tired of hanging out at home with sick ol’ me.

Being under-the-weather is no fun. You feel crappy, but after a while people don’t really want to hear it anymore. They ask, “How are you feeling?” And, if you don’t promptly respond “Feelin’ great!” they do the “Still feeling under-the-weather, huh?” thing while backing away from you as quickly as possible without seeming completely rude. This could be because (a) they’re afraid of catching whatever death germs you’re walking around with, or (b) they’ll have to kill either themselves – or you – if they have to hear one more time about how much mucus you’re coughing up.

Can’t exactly blame ‘em. First of all, it’s really gross to discuss mucus with anyone other than a doctor. And even then it’s only appropriate when the doctor really, really wants to know so he can make a note in your chart. Which probably goes something like this: “She’s coughing up a gross amount of mucus. Yuck.”

It’s also probably human nature. It’s hard to maintain constant empathy for another person. You’re anxious to get on with things and are hoping they’re ready to do the same. The problem with saying “Feelin’ great!” if you’re the sick person, however, is that the healthy person then asks you to do something that you’re not ready to do. Like help them move large appliances. Or run a marathon the following weekend. (These are, of course, purely fictitious examples as nobody who knows me in the slightest would ever ask me to run a marathon. It is common knowledge that I don’t do marathons. Furthermore, I’d get a little cantankerous if I had to walk a marathon. But I digress…)

Anyway, the sick person has to try for a response somewhere between being healthy as a horse and sick as a dog. I’m not sure what the middle ground is there as I don’t normally compare myself to animals. Maybe I should say, “Hey, I’m a lucky duck – it could be worse!”

And that is true. No matter how crappy we feel, we know there is always someone who is worse off than we are. The other day when I went to the health care center wanting immediate relief from the bone shaking cough that should have surely produced a tiny bit of muscle tone in my abdominals by now, I was happy to realize that I have very few other health issues. I mean, sure, I have to work on diet and exercise and such, but I don’t have high numbers for bad things like diabetes or cholesterol. My numbers, in fact, are reassuringly low. And that’s something to be thankful for. Nor have I really spent any time in hospitals other than for the odd stitch or two, the last of which was nearly two decades ago. (Knock wood.) No, the most time I’ve ever spent in a hospital is to visit some other sick as a dog person.

So, all in all, I have much to be thankful for. And it makes me realize that I can’t take my health for granted, so I know I need to get back into my regular workout routine again. Not only that, but probably we should revisit the quantities and types of vitamins we take on a regular basis.

Actually, Vince and I take vitamins every single day as part of our morning routine. But a couple months ago we ran out of Vitamin C and we decided against buying anymore until the “cold and ‘flu season” starts up again in the fall. Ha. Joke's on us. Naturally, I’ve decided that I got sick because we weren’t taking our Vitamin C – not that, perhaps, I hung around some germ-infested sick person. Nevertheless, we promptly went to the store and bought a mega-size bottle and have been popping them like candy ever since. Not that it’s helped yet, but I’m ever hopeful.

And, finally, I’m also quite thankful that I don’t have a chronic condition. True, I’m going on 21 days of being sick and it seems like it has been – AT LEAST – three weeks! (Ha ha. No, I’m really not that bad at math!) But trust me, while it seems like a long time to be sick, I do realize that three weeks is not considered “chronic.”

I know people who have constant back pain from real trauma to their spines. I know people with arthritis so severe their fingers are bent at awkward angles and they cannot open the simplest jar. And I know people with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. Dealing with those sorts of health issues are the ones that are tough. Year after year it has to be difficult to say “Feelin’ great!” when they really don’t. And they sure aren’t ready to help you move – or run a marathon.

So I’m going to practice being grateful for the health that I do enjoy and being empathetic to those people with chronic conditions. And as soon as I stop coughing up, well, whatever I’m coughing up, I’m going back to the gym. And for anyone I know with a chronic health condition? Rest assured that I will never ever ask you to run a marathon with me.

Now there’s some empathy right there.

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