The fretful porpentine

Several weeks ago, I was sick (strep throat, as it turned out, which is good as I find it much more satisfying to have a named sickness rather than the usual vague viral-flu-ish-something); sick enough that I couldn't even drag myself through the house doing things feebly and grudgingly as one sometimes has to when one is sick. Even sitting up in bed and reading tired me out, but since I felt like I was being garroted every time I swallowed (which of course meant I desperately felt the need to swallow every few seconds), I couldn't really sleep. And I was so BORED! I was reduced to mostly just lying there and thinking. Now, I LIKE lying around thinking, but unfortunately I had the sort of fever where you have half-dreams about how each of your breaths is stored in a separate file folder in a huge warehouse, and you have to climb, exhausted, over chain-link fencing to collect each one, in ever-widening circles. The sort of fever where you wake, sweat-covered, clutching, a taste like ash on your tongue, and absolutely certain that your body has burned a hole right through the pile of blankets above you. So, while mildly entertaining in retrospect, the ideas I had were very strange and overwrought and not much worth writing down.

I hadn't stayed confined to my bedroom like that since…well, since last time I had a baby, and I must say I liked this much less: no rosy newborn cheeks to kiss, no glow of accomplishment and fear-tinged wonder about what sort of new routines lie ahead. Instead just a sort of morbid feeling of hopelessness, and an almost smug certainty that I'd never be able to do anything comfortably again. Now of course, I'm seeing it all through a haze of nostalgia and wistfulness ("Ah! To stay in bed for a few days! To just drift off to sleep whenever I felt like it!"), but at the time I was thinking to myself, very seriously, that we were going to have to move to Idaho so the children could drive at age 14, because I would likely never be able to sit up and focus my eyes well enough to drive them anywhere again.

At this point I would like to deliver a touching little sermon about something like how when one's perspective changes, one learns to see the good amid hard times (likely very true) but I didn't really have anything like that in mind when I started writing this, and I can't much think of anything now. Maybe someone better at actually enduring hard times would have more valuable thoughts on the subject. All I really wanted to say is that these pictures are from a drive Sam and I went on, up into the canyon, when I absolutely could not stand the thought of being within four walls for one more second—and even though I was still weak and feverish and despairing—I felt the sunshine, and looked around me, and felt that maybe, possibly, things would be better soon.
And maybe there is a bit of a sermon in that, after all?


  1. I love your expertly written description of sickness and sweat and circuitous dreaming and the like. AND it was Strep throat? Of course! I always assumed it was just a really bad sore throat until the first time I got it (about ten years ago). I've had it another time since, and both episodes have been about the sickest I've ever been -- fever, horrible body aches, etc. So glad you are through the other side of that one!

  2. I'm glad you are better. I always marvel at how quickly I think, "I'll never get sick again--I'm too healthy, too able for that sort of nonsense," whenever I am healthy. Maybe it is part of growing up with a father who disdained all physical weakness. He's very proud that his nine children combined only missed 7 1/2 days of school because of sickness. Maybe we were scared to get sick? The shame it would bring to the family? But then when I am sick it quickly becomes the "I'll never recover--this will never end" mentality. I feel it so much after a baby. I'll never feel good again. Nursing will never be anything but excruciating. Why do I do this to myself? Then four months later I lament that I wasted the first four months of baby's life feeling terrible and self-pitying. I've replayed this seven times now and give myself stern lectures that I WILL NOT do it with the eighth, but deep down I feel it is inevitable. In the next life one of my great hopes is that we can sit somewhere and replay our lives, just watching the things we were too present in to truly appreciate. The first baby cry. The sweet newborn kisses. Toddler laughs. All those things that are so fleeting and mixed in with the rougher, duty-bound part of life. Dishes and cleaning poo out of the bathtub (on my mind today, ha), making supper for the 600,000 time. I wish we weren't so mortal sometimes!!

    1. Oh, I have that same wish! There are so many things I feel like I haven't appreciated enough. And even when I'm trying to, so many things get in the way. And then I begin to feel panicked and that makes me appreciate the moment even LESS. So I really want the life replay too. Just the good parts, of course! :)

    2. Definitely parts I don't ever want to see again. :)


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