Bags of Bran


The Tunnel that Ate All the Light
December 21, 2011, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Biography

I’m just getting over (and by “getting over,” I’m really being generous) a wholesome, high-quality, devastating illness. I am still enjoying the lingering afterglow of strep throat as an adult. It has been a bit over three weeks and I still feel it!

Now strep throat as a child wasn’t so bad. You wake up feeling a bit crummy, whimper a bit about a sore throat that was perfectly survivable, stay home from school, let mom look at your throat, rush off to the doctor, let the doctor look at your throat, and get stabbed in the throat with a jousting lance thinly disguised as a q-tip. The jousting lance in the throat was worth it, because if that test came back positive, it meant a week of the delicious medicine.

Most medicine you have as a kid kind of stinks. It usually tastes like it’s vulcanizing your innards, but not the Strep Throat medicine. It was like Strawberry Quik plus extra deliciousness, deliciousness which required, for some reason, that I also eat a bunch of yogurt, which was also delicious. I know that I at least thought about faking strep just to get the medicine and yogurt treatment. Sit home from school, and at twelve hour intervals, get some delicious medicine. Read the Hobbit again. That’s living, my friend.

Nowadays, having strep is not so good. For one thing, my adult constitution just isn’t as resilient as the one I used to have. I went in to the doctor with a fever of 104. I drove myself to the doctor with a fever of 104. I drove, or rather floated, through uptown Minneapolis, during a period of heavy traffic, with a fever of 104. I felt like I was dreaming the whole time, and actually talked myself through much of the trip, out loud. When I arrived, I was an hour early because I had completely misjudged how long it would take to drive there. I dozed in the waiting room while two old women spoke Russian loudly at each other as though they were speaking across the deck of a ship in a gale.

When it was finally my turn, I stood, swayed a bit, and made my way purposefully after the nurse. I think I worried her, because she furrowed her brow a bit. “Hmph,” I intended to say to myself, but my internal monologue is not so reliable when my body temperature gets above 102.

The doctor was one of those “talk yourself through your diagnosis” types, and when you have a fever of 104, such things are hard to process.

“It could be mono. Have you ever had mono? Have you kissed anyone lately? No, wait, that’s an old wives’ tale. Bilharzia. No, that’s not it. Rickets. No, you’re too old. Menopause. Are you menopausal? No, you’re a man. Fleas. Fleas! Do you itch all over?”

“Are those my feet?” I asked, hopeful that they were. Turns out they were.

The doctor continued unabated. “OK, so it’s some sort of animal then. Let’s start with animals which are big enough to see. Do you have any weird rashes or swelling? Have any toxic reptiles bitten, stung, accosted, molested, crooned, vituperated, beleaguered, or ramfeezled you in the last four days?”

I wanted to be helpful, but I was fighting a losing battle. “I think there is a sock in my throat.”

The doctor looked at me gravely and said “Arbagly foodly norg slivloog panoodly hoodly.”

“Uh huh, oh yes. Indeed,” I responded. Finally, something that made sense!

I was growing weary trying to concentrate on the doctor in the middle, because I was certain that I saw a pair of spectral doctors, one on either side of the one talking. They shimmered like spiderwebs in strong sunlight. They weren’t real any more than the two vestigal computer monitors on the desk, or two of the three thumbs on my right hand, but they were a mildly comforting presence, if a bit blurry.

How the room did swim!

As I glided purposefully out to my vehicle with a piece of paper in my hand that proved, conclusively, that I was not faking it this time, I made sure I was extra kind to everyone I passed on the way out. My feet may or may not have been touching the floor, I’m not sure. All I knew, and I was vaguely afraid of this fact, was that I needed to drive from uptown Minneapolis over to the pharmacy in Robbinsdale to pick up my delicious medicine. Mmmm! I can taste it already.

I sat down in the driver’s seat of the vehicle that lit up when I pushed a button on my key thingy. I looked around for any responsibilities I needed to take care of before I began to pilot this craft, and finding none, I attempted to put it in gear. Then I started it, and things worked much better. *BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP* What on earth is that? Have I broken something, or hurt the car’s feelings? Oh, it’s the seatbelt thingy. OK, baby steps.

It took a long time to get to the pharmacy. I took roads that I have never taken before, but I got there. I bought Gatorade. I failed to buy a thermometer. I got my prescription. It was Amoxicillin, but it wasn’t the delicious liquid stuff that I used to savor as a child: it was twenty fist-sized pills that threatened to lodge in my plumbing on the way down.

I piloted my spacecraft home. It was like playing “Asteroids.” I fell asleep, only to have Custer’s Last Stand wake me up again as the streptococcusssesss lodged a formal complaint about the Amoxicillin. I was up for four hours, and I didn’t even have delicious medicine to look forward to.

See, it’s just not as much fun anymore.

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