Exile From Trillville
A Howard Hughes-like Condition
Phil won’t stop hacking up a lung. Brenna’s breath smells foul from infection.
The weather is warming up, but cold or cold-like symptoms are everywhere. Germs are floating in the air. They are sneaky, undetectable troublemakers that live to breeze in and out of human bodies at their leisure.
Go for a routine doctor’s appointment and the coughing will drown out the Muzak. Stop in an elementary school and witness the healthy few – lepers in an inadvertent infirmary.
I have been of a bionic nature for as long as I can remember, a self-proclaimed medical miracle, known to balk at a flu shot or the need for a massive dose of vitamin C. I have no choice. My mind doesn’t take well to germs.
I don’t go to the extent Howard Hughes, old-time film mogul and aviation innovator, did when he was alive and holed up in a Las Vegas hotel room for years. Hughes didn’t leave his room for fear of catching something. I’ve yet to go to those lengths to stave off infection.
No, I deal with my hang up a bit differently. As a matter of fact, over the last few weeks I had let my guard down a bit, as I usually do when the weather warms. The thought of a cold or flu took a back seat to the threat of dehydration or lack of sleep, until it happened.
I came home to my brother, a 17-year-old lad, and my mother, a second grade school teacher, coughing and sneezing as if it were a contest. “Allergies” are what they were calling it, but I wasn’t buying. “Rubbish, you two are sick, the result of being surrounded by large groups of kids and teenagers, some who are not versed in hygiene,” I said.
Their guilt trips and “how can I help it” had no effect. I retreated upstairs to the bathroom, grabbed a can of Lysol, and kept it near for the rest of the week. Every cough, sneeze, or sniffle, warranted a discharge of spray, that would hopefully kill all, if not most of the germs circulating in the air.
Step two required drinking gallons of orange juice, taking vitamin C pills, and exercising at a level that would intimidate Richard Simmons or Tony Perkins (Ben Stiller’s work-out obsessed character from the film “Heavyweights.”
When I went to parties over Memorial Day weekend, I refused to drink from the beer pong cups. “I may as well inject myself with sickness and disease,” I explained. Many tried to sell the allergy spiel, but to no avail. Allergy or no, I wasn’t taking any chances.
After a late night, I woke up feeling a bit run down. Panic played around my nervous system as I checked my throat, desperately hoping it wasn’t at all red. To my dismay, it was! I convinced myself it was a result of smoking a couple cigarettes and went on with my day.
A few days later it was worse. The throat was dry and uncomfortable, the sinuses were questionable, and the chemical that causes joy and enthusiasm was hitting a wall on its way to my brain.
Perhaps it was an allergy, but I’d never had any nor did I feel like visiting a doctor and waiting amongst the sick. Never one to get sick, I grimaced at the thought of what was going on inside my body. Sure, everyone gets sick. Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat had been sick over the last week, Yankee Alex Rodriguez had missed some games due to the flu. Nick, though, doesn’t get sick!
After many tense moments spent in my room, contemplating how to deal with sickness and trying to block out the visual of germs taking up residence inside of me, I snapped. Too much worrying often breaks a guy down to the point where he must accept what is bothering him and move on.
I could’ve called out sick from work, slept all day, and felt sorry for myself, but what good what that have done?
“Stay occupied, eat healthy, and work out as much as you can handle,” I told myself over and over. Give the immune system something to do, a challenge to make it prove its worth and to stay sharp. Set a goal and make it happen.
The goal: to be at 75 percent full strength for the three-game series in Philly. All that driving back and forth from the stadium and staying up late will require a healthy lad. Also, remember to buy something stronger than Lysol and possibly invest in a gas mask. It is the only way.
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