Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Sledgehammer

I am here to announce a Very Important Medical Discovery: Virus10.0 -- otherwise known as "The Sledgehammer." This year's delightfully efficient viral iteration appears to pack 10-14 days of misery into an convenient, albeit uncomfortable 72-hour time period. Here's how it goes:

Day 1 (Monday) -- Wrangle with a persistent, annoying headache throughout the day, trying to convince yourself it's stress-related to the first day of the quarter at the colleges where you work, two urgent media inquiries and allergies from the previous weekends' rain and windstorms.

Slink home following work and descend into a stunned miasma of fatigue. The ridiculous DWTS vision of Bristol Palin, dressed in a sequined, ballroom dancing version of a grey schoolmarm suit, barely registers. You curse life and wonder what you have done to deserve such cruel and unusual punishment that leaves you powerless to mock a member of the Palin family.

Day 2 (Tuesday) -- Persistent annoying headache is now joined by a full-on body ache. As the day wears on, you discover joints you never knew you had. . . in places you didn't know existed.

After 60-plus minutes of hanging out at an airplane hanger during a media shoot in the afternoon, you realize the viral propeller tucked inside your skull has just been cleared for take-off. Sore throat kicks in with a vengeance, and a roadblock worthy of the state patrol has been set up in your nasal passages. Must. Leave. Work. Now.

But first. There are obligations to fulfill:

(1) Walk the dog. . . because it's the Wonderfully Patient Spouse's 12-hour day at the clinic. With one block to go, begin to wonder why, instead of a herding dog, you didn't adopt a sled dog that could pull you the rest of the way home.

(2) Fix something tasty for dinner. . . because it's the WPS' 12-hour day at the clinic and he deserves something other than leftover pickled beets when he gets home. Resolve not to make meatloaf again if there is even the remotest possibility of succumbing to pestilence.

Once all obligations are fulfilled, slink upstairs and take a hot bath. Note with clinical objectivity how your headache is now more like a "face-ache," making it feel like your eyes and teeth could fall out -- most likely simultaneously -- at any minute.

Apathetically nod your way through "Glee" and, from your death bed, manage a wan, weak greeting for the WPS as he gets home. Go to bed at 9 .m. armed with a bottle of a Motrin and faithful canine hot water bottle, Ben, at your side.

Day 3 (Wednesday) -- Following a 6 a.m. e-mail to work announcing you will be M.I.A. for the rest of day, lay in a darkened room till 9 a.m. willing the annoying, persistent headache and all body aches to be gone. Upon rising, willing appears to have been at least partially successful.

Once vertical, discover sore throat also is mostly gone and yesterday's dreaded respiratory symptoms have obligingly downsized themselves into a sinus infection. Eyes and teeth still feel to be at risk of eviction but report they are hanging on. Motrin helps.

Despite sleeping for 12 hours, it still feels like you pulled a college all-nighter, but unfortunately at the age of 57 instead of 20. Results from a caffeine infusion are negligible. Motrin helps.

Wrapped in an oversized sweat jacket, encourage circulation by shuffling around the house hunched over like a shell-shocked troll. Finally, pet the dog, call in the green tea reinforcements and park yourself on the couch for the day.

It appears you have survived Virus10.0. You have met The Sledgehammer -- and it is yours.

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