My disease-infested family has infected me with some sort of bug - I feel achy and nauseated, my head constantly aching but with varying degrees of intensity. Unfortunately, the degree of professional intensity has remained higher than average, consisting of various meetings with out of town visitors and the typical dinners that accompany such visits.
We argued on Monday, listening to presentations and debating various points with pointed and articulate statements and sarcastic questions. It was delightful, but I guarded my energy selfishly, inserting a few comments here and there but mostly nodding in support of my scientific colleagues.
I sat shoulder to shoulder with my closest partner, united in our focus on a particular organ system, and whispered and giggled and made faces. And I slumped against him when my head grew achy and asked him to cover for me when I want to throw up. He frowned with concern when I returned, rising to go fetch me soda and water, and patted my shoulder. I managed the team dinner through a haze of medicine and made my way home to allow the sleep I so needed.
I awakened too early though, muttering encouragement to my poor body as I shuffled to the bathroom and blinked at myself in the mirror. I arrived at the office before dawn, pleased that all the materials had been delivered as I'd ruthlessly planned and began to connect computers and arrange binders and organize nametags.
"Do you know the password?" a colleague said after he arrived and I rattled off letters and numbers until he nodded his thanks. I made it through 2 hours of greeting and answering questions and fetching materials before I placed a trembling hand in my bag to retrieve my keys and made my way home to throw up again.
When I have sick headaches - and am midway through Big Event 2 of 3 - I try to focus my mental energy past the pain. I picture myself as a stone near the edge of a waterfall, content to nestle with my friends in the shade of a nearby tree and listen to the roar of the water, watching it sparkle in the sunshine as it flows over the edge.
Other times I am a spearmint leaf, bright green and fragrant as I float in a mug of hot water, steeping myself into a nice tea laced with thick, sweet honey. Perhaps my ruffled edges curl up as I swirl around the edge of the cup, drifting lazily with other leaves just like me.
"Be the pillow," I reminded myself, scrunching my face into a pained mask as I begged the pain pills to take effect, forcing myself to breathe and think of myself as a fluffy rectangle. Encased in a silky pillowcase and nestled on a soft mattress, ready to hold an achy head or be cuddled to a warm chest.
I canceled my evening plans for tonight with no small amount of regret. I have no idea how I'll cope with tomorrow - and a very full calendar - if I'm still feeling terrible. So I suppose I should sleep and hope to dream of rocks by waterfalls, spearmint tea and mounds of soft pillows.