I am generally of…

I am generally of sanguinary temperament. By which I mean not necessarily the classic Greek definition, but rather that I am typically happy. I wish this were true for everyone, but I don't think it is. If there were a scale, with very unhappy at 0 and very happy at 100, I know a fair number of people who would typically bobble around at 50 or so. Whereas my default is closer to 80 on a daily basis. If I wake up in the morning and sun is shining (or the rain is raining) and I have tea and milk ready to hand, I'm often quite close to blissful. I'm very lucky.

Except when I'm sick. I do not make a cheerful patient. Oh, I try, for the sake of those around me, to keep my misery to myself. When Kevin is having to cope with a still-exhausted Anand and an eye-crusty Kavya all on his own because mama has been knocked out of commission and can only lie shaking on the couch, trying not to vomit, the last thing he needs is for me to be whining about how cruddy I feel. But in my head, the whining, it goes on and on and on.

This was a bad virus -- five days from start to finish, and with some truly ghastly parts in the middle. I felt bad for Anand even before I got it, because the little guy was so clearly miserable. And after I got sick, my sympathies had no bounds. No wonder he insisted on being carried every moment (waking and sleeping) for three solid days. Physical contact actually helped, a tiny bit. If I hadn't been afraid of getting Kavi sick, I would have dragged her into my lap and just kept her there.

Day five was the best, physically, but oddly the worst, emotionally. I started feeling panicked about my work, unable to even think about it without worrying about how much further behind I'd fallen in a week. And worse, not only had I failed to write anything decent lately, I couldn't imagine writing anything decent again. I felt drained of ideas, tapped out. And was anything I'd written before actually any good? Through the lens of illness, all the flaws shone so clearly. Why did I bother trying to write at all? I should have listened to my parents and become a doctor like my sisters. Then at least I'd be accomplishing something concrete, every day.

It just felt like such a long, miserable haul. Could I possibly still be sick? Was I ever going to be better again? Yes, Anand was now gamboling about like a fuzzy spring lamb, but just because he got well didn't mean I would. Maybe I would be sick forever, like one of those Victorians who languished in the front rooms of their homes. We have a front parlor -- we could convert it into a sickroom easily enough. I don't have servants to bring me possets, though.

Once again, I am reminded of how health is a gift. And I wonder again at how those who live with chronic illness manage it. Occasionally I will read a book in which illness figures prominently -- such books are often difficult to read. Tedious at times, since so much of sickness is dull and repetitive, which just adds to the agony. Mostly, I close such books and put them aside. For now, I can enjoy the sun and rain on my face, I can get up and dance in them if I choose to.

I know a day will likely come when I am sick more often than I am well. Those books will be waiting for me, when I turn to them to help me understand how (if) one continues sanguinary despite everything.

3 thoughts on “I am generally of…”

  1. I may have had the exact same illness as you this week, because it knocked me out for about five days, and the last was emotionally the worst for me, too (quite a lot of worrying about how much I’d fallen behind, without enough energy to make a serious dent in the backlog). My sympathies!

  2. Ugh–that sounds awful. I’m glad the whole family is feeling better!

    I’m not good at being sick. I don’t get sick very often, so when I do, I usually attempt to just power through it and end up making myself sicker or giving myself a migraine on top of everything else.

  3. Sympathies. 🙁

    Does this entry mean that you’re feeling better now? I hope so.

    …I’m struck by the similarity of your day-five emotional response to what I’ve heard from friends when they’re suffering from depression. That illness, too, inserts a filter/lens into their perceptions (of the world and of their memories), telling them that nothing in their life is good, nothing has ever been good, and nothing will or can ever be good in the future.

    So now I’m wondering if that’s a more common reaction to physical illness than I had previously noticed. I guess I’ve previously heard that some kinds of physical disability can sometimes result in depression, but I think I tend to draw more of a distinction (in my head) between illness and disability than is really warranted. I need to teach myself more about this stuff at some point.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear that the worst of this particular virus is over. *hug*

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