Down to my last precious tablet of Sudafed and final swallow of the wildly ineffective Nyquil, I decided at some point last night that I would leave the friendly confines of my home today. I tried with valiant effort to sleep but failed with spectacular displays of coughing and hacking and gagging from the coughing and hacking. All told, after 12 hours of sleep effort, I’d managed about 90 minutes of actual sleep. I did, however, make it through most of Friends, season 4. I woke up around 8, a cough drop tucked into my cheek as if I were a rabid chipmunk, clinging to the futile hope of wellness if only the menthol goodness would work.
I whimpered while I stumbled through my morning routine. I drank coffee and walked the dog, pausing to cough so hard that a cruising officer stopped to ask if I required assistance. I thanked him, pulled Chienne away from leaping on his police car and continued trudging through the neighborhood, blowing my nose and coughing all the way.
Returning to my house after greeting the electrical repairmen across the street - no real idea of what the crowd of them were doing, I took a quick shower and washed my face, wincing at how awful I look. I plugged in and turned on my hair straightener, determined to remove the ponytail lines from hair that is growing far longer than I normally wear it. Then I moved to the closet and sat in the wooden chair that normally holds a pile of clothes. Mom must have put them away, I mused, and settled back to observe my wardrobe choices. I still hadn’t made a decision several minutes later, though I did realize how very many button down shirts I have. All but two are striped - blue and purple stripes, black stripes and brown stripes and gray stripes, blue with pink and brown stripes, pink with black and white stripes. I must want to be a zebra, I concluded and smiled.
Still later, I realized I was sitting in a dazed stupor more than selecting something to wear to work. I sighed when I came to my feet, making the single step that would take me close enough to paw through the hanging clothing. I finally picked up a hanger containing a pale green twinset. I’d wear it with one of my five pairs of gray pants, I decided. But then I remembered that my brown bag was still packed. So I could wear brown pants instead of gray and then use the same bag. But my brown shoes are still new and might hurt. This all seemed very complicated and confusing so I sat down again, draping the lightweight sweater pair across my legs and blinked at the pants I could possibly wear.
Having decided not to repack a bag, I ended up in brown and halfheartedly flattened my hair into something resembling a style. I dabbed on eye cream and protective serum and moisturizer then sighed at make-up. With a wary glance at my reflection, I deemed this a formidable project and began to dab and blend and brush. After a couple minutes, I wondered at the efficacy of just dumping loose powder liberally on my face, rubbing it in with my palms and calling it good. I finally gave up, gathered the trash scattered throughout the house (Tissues. Everywhere.) and placed bags in my trunk after tossing my bag inside the car.
I think I’ve mentioned I take my own trash to the nearby dump. After growing irrationally irritated with my waste disposal service, I angrily declared that I would do it myself and thereby save a huge $18 per month. (That’s right, less than $20. Maybe someday I'll buy myself a pony!) It gives me a ridiculous sense of accomplishment to drive in to the fenced area, wait in line with the other garbage-laden cars and toss the bags into one of the three available dumpsters. It wasn’t so much of a thrill today for some reason.
I groused about having to stop for gas, forgetting that my tank was empty, then stopped at the drug store to load a cart with soft Kleenex and bags of cough drops and boxes of daytime tablets and bottles nighttime syrup and orange juice and soda. I reached the car, took Sudafed, unwrapped a cough drop and set off toward campus. I don’t really remember the drive, which probably isn’t the best of signs. I vaguely recall closing my eyes to enjoy the gentle breeze and sunshine as I waited for a bus. I have definite memories of every single person I saw ordering me to see a medical professional.
“I’m going to give it a couple more days,” I said to the first three people. Then I would stop to cough, wipe away tears from my right eye and blink up at them again. They always seemed farther away, but insisted that I make an appointment immediately. Finally, thinking that might offer better drugs, I obediently picked up the phone. I’m to go on Friday afternoon.
Marlie talked at our group meeting, a rather luxurious hour where everyone at the table has a doctorate, post-docs are outnumbered at least 2:1 by faculty members and there is pizza and soda aplenty. Given our disparate interests, these afternoon meetings can be utterly fascinating. For Marlie, the merging of her animal studies with the added insight from people who work in patient populations, chemists, biologists and folks with very technical specialties should have been tremendously helpful. And many times, these presentations are. But today was a poor example.
One of my fellow fellows offered an idea. It wasn’t a bad idea, necessarily, though it wouldn’t have worked. After he talked and talked and talked (and he shouts certain sentences for some reason - even in casual conversation - which I always find disconcerting), Boss was able to say, “Well,” before being interrupted. I bristled at the lack of manners, also nothing new with this particular post-doc, and settled into a glare he didn’t notice. He finally stopped talking and Boss told him why he didn’t think the idea had a chance at success. I nodded in agreement.
When the exact same idea was proposed a moment later, with many of the same explanations and ideas he’d used just moments before, I looked at Boss with impatient confusion across the table. He shrugged at me while Shouty McShouterson continued to talk. When he finished, I took a turn at explaining to him why I agreed with Boss and how it was a cool idea, but not really applicable here.
When he started again, I glanced around the table to see uniform expressions of displeasure and allowed my glare to slip to the wrong side of vicious. My cough drop was almost gone, my patience was as plentiful as the amount of sleep I got last night and he was pissing me off. He finally stopped, interrupted Boss again, but the latter regained enough control to adjourn the meeting before I could throw a minor fit.
Then I came home. Still miserable, foggy and slow from exhaustion and disease. Such is my life of late.