Sunday, January 07, 2007

It Makes Me Sick

I thought about calling this post “Illness as Metaphor.” However, that would represent a kind of intellectual plagiarism, as well as skirting the matter, and I have read about as much Susan Sontag as I have Vladimir Polensk Isneninov (out of print).

There’s no gentle or cerebral way to put it: I suffer from frequent illnesses of the bacterial variety, and I will probably not be relieved of this condition for the rest of my years.

These colds— attacks of sinusitis, to be precise — have plagued me for most of my adulthood. Though one can take preventive steps to avoid contracting them, once I get sick, it’s Mucous City, Exhaustionville, City of Slug.

When I get sick, it’s also a great excuse not to write, not to blog, not to visit other’s blogs. And I they can help me ignore world poverty, the war in Iraq, global warming or any other inconvenient truths that my mess up my fragile psyche.

As Wife heads down the road to delivery and I down the road to impending happiness and responsibility, I realize how much this tendency to become ill makes me rather melancholy. I’ve been able to attend work, and been managing to post to the blog, but the rest of blogworld has been a void — no visits, no comments, nothing.

I catch sinus infections at predictable times: changes in the weather, lack of sleep, time spent in arid places (after four days in Las Vegas without a humidifier, I came back ill. So much for what happens there staying there. Does that slogan also mean VD?).

Sinusitis will turn you into this man

The latest such incident comes after a trip to visit my wife’s family over the holidays. I awaited at a gate full of screaming children and rode in an airplane with recirculated air. I slept in dry apartment and would wake up feeling as if someone had an extremely large finger up my nose. I ate a lot of food saturated in fat and drank at least one too many beers each night.

By the time we returned, I couldn’t breathe out of my nose. Each night I slept with open mouth, and I often I awoke with the sensation that somebody had been dumping sand down my throat.

For those uninitiated with sinus infections, they are a beast of a particular nature. Not really a “cold,” but not the flu, either, they are marked by heavy congestion, exhaustion, and massive amounts of mucous (of such a particular green-brown-yellow tint that trying to describe it would do it no justice).

The thing that sucks about getting a sinus infection is that it lays you low for a couple of weeks, but not badly enough to miss work. It makes you unproductive, listless, and stupid, which makes for a great imitation of the incompetent managerial class. One is essentially transformed into a life-support system for a snot factory.

About a dozen years ago, things had gotten so bad that I was getting sick every month. I had been to doctors – many doctors, each who had his own, incorrect theory about the source of my misery. I had allergies. Asthma. Chronic fatigue syndrome. I probably would have been diagnosed with mad cow had it been in vogue.

Finally, it occurred to me that perhaps an otolaryngologist (you know, an ear, nose, throat dude) just might be the right person to see. It was found that I had polyps blocking my nasal passages that would require surgery. The surgery was a success, and the frequency and severity of my colds decreased. But the sinus infections never went away completely.

The problem with sinusitis is that it lays both your body and mind inoperable. You can spend hours staring at a computer screen, having forgotten why you even turned on the computer in the first place.

Germ warfare

I imagine that these bouts of infections will become more frequent after our son is born, being that parental sleep becomes as precious as that stupid ring Gollem kept wheezing over. I’m already worried that I will never have time to write once the child has taken over our lives, and that I am likely to be ill much of the time makes me more neurotic still.

Then again, they say early parenthood is like feeling you’re sick all the time. Perhaps this has been this cosmic training, my body’s way of preparing me for fatherhood, all the suffering for all those years having a real purpose in life.

OK, now that has been settled, I have to blow my nose for two minutes straight.