Well. A deep subject.
Don’t worry. It’s an inside joke.
I must be feeling better, because I feel compelled to write something about the experience. I doubt it will have any linear clarity, but linear movement, like constant growth, is a post-capitalist economist trick of the light to make everyone feel that if they aren’t moving forward it’s somehow their fault, and they need to atone and explain.
The silver lining of being sick is the difference between the stages, and the weird gratitude for the whole experience and the not so weird for surviving. There was a moment there, where I wondered which way it was going to go. When you’re very very hot, and feeling every joint feverish and swollen, and your lungs pinch at you but if you take very small breaths maybe it won’t dissolve into coughing and the sense of delirium as a new set of symptoms appeared. It seemed like going through files in a drawer. Ok – we’ve attacked all these, now what’s in the next portion of pain. Generally sickness grows and ebbs. I’ve never seen one that flipped carelessly to the next, the dating app of illness. Even lying there, wishing it would stop, wondering if I really did care if I never saw London again or made any new pilgrimage again, or did anything again, I was marveling at the machine like precision of the virus. Next. Next. Next. I think of illness as watery. This was metallic, slicing through flesh and nerves in a way that wasn’t expected. My eyes were hot, and after I managed to get to the sink water made my skin feel better. Then I got really too hot. I remembered a Nurse Ratched character from when a friend was sick in hospital. She removed all covers, despite the shivering. It felt brutal. But like a dog in a hot car, I grabbed at the wisdom of survival, climbing into a cold shower, then forcing myself to shiver for…a while.
I seem to be betterish, but the delirium remains. Perhaps that’s a good thing. At one point I felt at extremes – anger, sadness, fury, despair. How had I gotten here? Why on earth had I put up with the kind of thoughtless treatment, meanness, anything? And the sadness. The moments of insane regret that couldn’t be undone, scenes that I could run in my head like a film on loop and did. A still of each frame like an acid bath, one I felt I deserved. Then anger again. What fool trusts cowards and charlatans?
Only the present, I kept trying to tell myself. Finally sleep became easier.
And here are the remnants of delirium. All these people grasping at “normality” and a return to – what? The news cycle works to disrupt. There is no continuity, and we watch things happen that don’t seem possible. Normal waved around on either side, neither really knowing what it means other than keeping the same amount of money in the account or more.
I read something that gave rules on how to play the game. Changing the rules if you didn’t like them, or understanding why you didn’t. What if the new normal is just batshit crazy? Humanity seems very strange when you’re asking to use sick days. Please let me stay home in bed. Please let me use the sick days that I have earned, in theory. I went to the doctor because I knew I was sick, and I knew I’d need proof. Do you need a letter, the doctor said kindly. Why yes, I do. You know this game too. Handing in my note to teacher, in case they think I’m skiving, lying in bed to avoid work. I’m sick, but I’m guilty and filled with shame that I’m not breaking rocks with the rest of you. What are the other options? There was something on TikTok showing Europeans reacting to the American health care system. They were horrified. The hospital charge for skin to skin contact between mother and newborn seemed particularly shocking. So yes, I have insurance, it paid for my doctor visit and letter, and I’m grateful for what I have, but I’m not blind to how fragile it all is, and how dependent it is on game playing. Which is not a level playing field. Rights in America cost money, and health care isn’t even a right.
So – returning to the delirium and anger and frustration – ask for permission or forgiveness? Wait for approval? Hang on, hoping for fair winds? Tell tormentors to go back to their hells? Cling on to the past, the outdated notions of love, burbling and crawling after any crumb dropped for me? Remain silent and distant, decide that life is only for the young, and sit patiently waiting for the end? Throw out all the baggage, all of it, and marvel at the past 20 years while dropping its artifacts in a skip?
Every recovery another new chance. Every festering wound lanced removes a poison that maybe I’d grown too fond of. Listen to genius, smile at the sky, and walk down the 8th Street of a long, long time ago towards a new psychedelic sky? Not the drugs. That’s for people trying to convince themselves their jailhouse shed is a palace.
I see that an astrologer I read is now complaining about the news coverage being given to the new variants because the COVID virus doesn’t really exist, hasn’t been saved, something. Well, I had something, and it wasn’t just a cold. Believe what you will. In the interstices, something like the truth may appear. In the meantime, we can both wonder. And consider our positions. Like Jack Bruce sang, “What kind of fool are you?”