My body and I had a falling out this morning. The tight band of dull pain in my brain serves as the only remnants of our argument.
Last night I tossed and turned beneath my blanket in a hot sweat. My blanket was drenched. I wiggled out of my pajamas and slept atop my sheets, grateful for the cool air against my body.
In the morning, however, I was pushed out of bed by a chilled sweat and terrible headache. I began replaying the week to see if I had been exposed to any virus.
There was a girl at work who’d been sick for two weeks, she’d been coughing and sneezing, and unfortunately our office is a germ incubator ever since we lost one of our custodians, we are basically working in a germinated bubble. So I braced myself for the worst. I made it to the shower but was too fatigued and mid shower began to feel nauseous.
When people get sick they typically say they feel weak and fatigued. They run these words together as if one symptom, by the end of the day I would learn they are two very distinct feelings.
I managed to stumble out the shower, haphazardly wrapping my towel around my body, all I could think about was laying back down. My body was taking me to task for refusing to listen, for ignoring the sense to relax, for forcing it to move and go when stop is the prescription needed.
Leg muscles sore, head throbbing, stomach lurching, bed calling. To sleep: perchance to dream: ay there’s the rub; several false runs to the bathroom with the ghost of nausea terrorizing me, each walk back to my bed pushing me further into exhaustion.
Home alone, locked inside my place contemplations of “should I call 911?” cross through the threaded band of brain hurt, then fear of whether paramedics would reach me if I had to call 911.
A harsh reminder that I have been forgotten in this world.
Too old to be coddled by parents, three children grown, living apart from me and the shock that I am no longer any man’s concern.
I am the forgotten woman.
Panic grips me: Is my life insurance paid up? Is my house clean enough? I can’t die with my laundry piled up, thats just unacceptable, I still owe people money, I don’t want my children burdened with my debt, I still have writing to do, oh my God I’m going to die like all my literary heroes, brilliant and broke!
I have so much to accomplish! Too many dreams to chase!
Alas it is not to be! Zora, Keroac, Langston, here I come! Virginia Woolfe I am not afraid! I shall meet thee at the pearly gates, quill in hand!
Oh my damn am I going to be remembered for my last Facebook post or tweet?
Ewww! What the hell did I write?
An imagined death may become her, however it is but sleep which overcomes me.
I awaken feeling spent, deciding to take a short walk to the Rite Aide for medicine, contact solution and hair product—because I will not be found sick, dead, among a pile of laundry AND nappy headed.
The soft breeze of an overcast day cools my skin and although I’m feeling a little fatigue, the walk seems a welcomed panacea. I make it to the store, feeling sluggish but seemingly better.
While placing my items on the counter I notice my skin feeling clammy as a cold sweat spreads quickly across my skin while a hot sensation burns me internally.
I have difficulty speaking aloud, I lean against the counter to keep from falling and suddenly my muscles fail to cooperate with me.
This is a wretched weakness.
My face is flushed as I squeak out the words “do you have a restroom?” The clerk didn’t seem alarmed so I’m thinking I may be over reacting but by the time I turned to walk up the aisle I barely knew where I was.
I had the sensation of a curtain rapidly closing down on me.
I made it to the restroom where I sat with head in lap, arms wrapped around legs, until the feeling subsided.
No one knocked on the door.
No one noticed the near dead woman languishing in a public restroom.
The forgotten woman pulled her act together and walked home, immediately collapsing into her bed for the night.
To sleep: perchance to dream.
Hours later I awaken feeling as if I had gone a few rounds with an experienced pugilist.
My youngest son, just off work, knocks on my bedroom door. Water, ice, theraflu and genuine concern in hand, he pampers the never forgotten woman.
The truth is I am not the forgotten woman, haven’t been for at least 23 years. My children are my rock and I have raised them to be mountainous when it comes to protecting and caring for one another.
Illness can be such a lonely endeavor. I always feel the most vulnerable and insecure at these moments. Thoughts of tomorrow not being promised often permeate my mind.
Sickness has always been my mental illness.
It amazes me how a few hours of discomfort can shift my whole world.
Nonetheless, my son is here now, all is “well.”
I close my eyes, allowing the medicine to course throughout my body, feeling a little better.
As I drift off to sleep I still wonder what my last Facebook post was…