Friday, November 21, 2008

Sickness is normal to me as health is to you

Why no posts for so long? And why two posts today? The answer to the first question is the usual stuff -- busy schedule, real job, other outlets for my creative energy... plus a new and exciting factor called The Flu. Yes, I have the flu, or something very flulike, which has left me without much energy to turn on my computer, much less type coherent sentences. I'm into day five of feeling lousy, although I feel less lousy than I did yesterday, so there's hope. That's the answer to the second question, by the way: this is day five of flulike symptoms, and day three of absolutely no productivity, and I'm getting antsy. My body and my brain are not quite up to real work -- the sink remains full of dirty dishes; my coat has been draped over a chair since I took it off Wednesday night -- but at least I can blog for you all.

Wednesday I stayed home from work, because I couldn't get out of bed till 9 a.m., and that was only to stagger to the couch (which effort wore me out so much I had to take a nap). I had press tickets for a Broadway show that night, and I was really not in a going-out mood, but I figured I could get through it as long as I rested all day. So I set out for the show a little after 7, leaning heavily on the husband's arm. I'm not going to tell you what show it was, because I don't want to invalidate the review I expect to write, but suffice it to say I had a very good seat, close to the stage and on the aisle, and I was enjoying myself in spite of feeling thoroughly achy and ill. And then, late in the second act, the play turned suddenly and stomach-turningly violent. I was expecting this (I'd just read the script), but I guess I wasn't "prepared" for it, or maybe I was too prepared for it, because in the aftermath of the stage violence I found myself overcome with nausea. Those susceptible to carsickness will recognize the sensation: you start to get dizzy, there's a roaring in your ears... This is happening to me as I'm sitting completely still, in my seat, a few feet from the stage. So I'm making desperate mental calculations: should I make a run for it? In my advanced state of dizziness and weakness, the odds that I will make it all the way up the aisle without collapsing and/or vomiting are, I judge, about 50/50. The odds that I will make it out of the building, or even as far as the lobby, are lower still. And in the best of circumstances, leaving my seat to rush up the aisle seems awfully disruptive, especially since the action onstage has reached its climax. And I am right up front. Not only do I have an unrestricted view; the actors have a perfectly clear view of me. So I decide to put my head between my knees and hope for the best.

Guess what? The head-between-the-knees thing? It really works! But you have to stay that way for a while. And I had to pull off my sweater, too, because I had broken out in a cold sweat (fortunately I was wearing another shirt underneath). So there I was, head-between-knees, trying to keep one ear on the play, and then deciding against it because that just reminded me why I was sick in the first place. I had my hat at the ready in case I needed something to puke into. But I managed to regain my equilibrium by the time the play ended, about 10 minutes later. I still feel bad about my bad audience behavior -- I had a dream that night that one of the actors was yelling at me for distracting him -- but the husband assures me that I did not create a scene. (Even he thought I must have dropped something, for the first few minutes, anyway.) So I guess the only other person I might have bothered was the lady sitting behind me, and since she was distracting me throughout the play with her loud, jangly bracelets and inappropriate laughter, I don't feel so bad about that. Me puking into her lap would have been more distracting than my sitting quietly doubled-over, I tell you what.

I suppose it is a credit to the actors that I found their suffering so convincing. My visceral reaction probably has more to do with my illness than with their work, but still, they'll have to take it as a compliment, especially since I was unable to summon the strength to applaud when the play was finally over. I was thrilled to get outside into that sub-freezing air. The husband had to flag down a cab to take us home (a matter of blocks), and I was sticking my head out the window like a dog to avoid getting sick all over again. That's what I get for my show-must-go-on attitude, I guess.

Today I feel like I'm on the mend, and I'm desperate to go outside, because I'm starting to get a bit Fosca-like in my extended illness. But I think I set myself back Wednesday night, so it's probably safest for me to stick to nauseating television until I'm back to normal.

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