Saturday, January 27, 2007

2007 Est Arrivee--Cough, Cough, Sniff, Sniff

2007 arrived on good terms, as far as I was concerned.

Heading into the end of 2006, I was healthier, happier, and more prosperous than I'd been in many years. I had intentionally let go of the pain of the year that had just passed at a magical Solstice ritual, and I welcomed the new year with open arms. It felt like a fresh start.

I had a lovely, if low-key, New Year's Eve. I got dressed up in a sparkly vintage cocktail dress and fishnet stockings. I put on high heels, did my hair, and shaved my legs. I went from a friend's lesbian cocktail and dance party to the Academy of Music, where I took the stage before a packed house of 800 as Elvis's lovely assistant. With a kiss and round of applause in your evening, how can you miss, right?

After the second show, I passed on joining Elvis as he switched personas and became Lord Russ at an led Aloha Steamtrain show at the Elevens, and went to a small party with new friends in Westhampton. I changed into something more comfortable once I was there, and had a blast drinking champagne and shots of Grey Goose, eating snacks, and playing a crazy German card game called "Rage." I even won. :-)

I got kissed at midnight by a cute boy, and when we got iced in by the freezing rain, I got to make out like a teenager on a futon beneath the Christmas lights. It was really very lovely. Things were looking up.

The next day, though, I was sleep-deprived and a little hungover. And from there, it was pretty much all downhill. Today is the 27th day of 2007--and my mother's 55th birthday--and I have been sick for all but four of those days.

I went to the doctor yesterday. He had nothing helpful to say unless you count "your face looks puffy. is that normal?" as helpful medical advice.

I don't have pneumonia or bronchitis, which is great, except it means there are no antibiotics that can help put a swift end to the coughing, laryngitis, running nose, fatigue and GI complications.

The Dr. prescribed an inhaler that would make me "jittery and light-headed" and would induce the coughing up of much yucky phlegm. I filled the prescription, but I have not used this thing since I can't for the life of me come up with a reason to feel more light-headed than I already do. And the coughing? Not a strong selling point either.

Instead, I bought myself a Vicks VapoSteam humidifier, so my little apartment smells of moist camphor, which I actually like very much.

While I've been sick, I've had a great deal of time to sit around thinking about things, and I'm happy to report that apart from one day (when I had PMS) I have not really felt very sorry for myself. The house was well-stocked with the things one needs when one is sick--tissues, soup, tea, DVDs, fresh ginger, cough syrup with codeine in it, Vick's VapoRub and assorted other cold comfort items--and this has helped. I'm taking good care of myself, and, while on my sickest days, I wished very much that someone else was taking care of me, I didn't go to the Bad Place, the place where I am a kid again, alone and sick and aching for care that won't come; the place where I want someone to love me and take care of me so much it breaks my heart and I drown in a panicky froth of depression.

I've done a good job of making my deadlines while also resting, feeding myself, and trying not to sink into a depressed, isolated pain-space as the days drag by without any human contact.

My best friend has talked to me every day, and made one emergency supply delivery when I was really in the thick of things. My landlord brought me Theraflu and soup. The cute boy from New Year's Eve stopped by to keep me company one afternoon. And another friend offered to bring me things if I needed them.

What I really want most of all is company, which has been in short supply, but I'm doing alright even without it. I finished a book--The Bourne Identity (I don't recommend it). I watched a documentary--This Film is Not Yet Rated (I recommend it). I'm reading a friend's novel manuscript and am halfway through. I got my car inspected and tried out a new hairstyle (I'm learning to do pin curls like they did in the 40s and 50s). I made soup. I watched a lot of TV shows that I had taped, but never gotten around to watching. I landed a new client. I installed a new showerhead. I took baths. I slept. A lot. I started a puzzle, although this was a mixed bag, because puzzles are more fun when you do them with a friend.

I cleaned my office and everything else I could find. I called friends, except on the days when I lost my voice. And I even went out to meet people for coffee--and once for dancing--on the days when I wasn't totally slammed by sick.

The days I was slammed, I did very little. I let it be okay that I just couldn't. And all I did was stay in bed.

I was all geared up for some serious productivity and some long-awaited fun when the new year arrived. Now, I'm sort of crawling along, just hoping to get upright again sometime before March.

On one of the days that I was in bed sick, I started thinking about the numbers, about the quantifiable amount of time I spend sick every year. I added it up, and on average, it's 26 weeks. 26 weeks! This is both horrifying and liberating.

It's horrifying, obviously, because it's just so freaking much; but liberating because it makes me feel like I'm actually kicking some serious ass by getting done what I've gotten done. It validates my feeling that everything is really hard--because it really is! If a person is sick for half the year, how can she be expected to make a good living? Knowing the actual number of days that I was immobilized by sickness helps me to release myself from the judgment that I'm just not doing well enough. And it re-enforces the commitment I've made to healing my body this year.

Now that I have a number, I can set a specific goal. If I can come in under 20 weeks of sickness this year, I will know that I am definitely moving in the right direction. I'm going to keep track and see how I've done.

Of course, these three weeks (and counting) don't set a great tone for 2007, but I am doing a lot of things right, and I believe that I can achieve wellness this year. I believe I can improve. And once I'm healthier, I'll be able to do the other things I dream about: pay off my debts, travel, go out to dinner, buy great presents, buy a house, and have a love life again.

So, here's to 2007. May we all be happy, healthy, and wise. Happy new year. (And happy birthday, mom.)

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