Down With the Sickness

Monday afternoon I started getting this annoying, dry cough. 

I was on my way home from an appointment, and it just popped into existence. Scratchy but not. Forceful but not. There but not. I felt fine otherwise, but holy cats! It was so annoying.

By the time I went to bed, the dang thing was gone. Or so I thought. It was back on Tuesday, but only enough to be annoying. 

Did I mention the cough was annoying?

Annoying enough at that point that I bought a pack of cough drops. Ricola Cherry Honey. I forced myself to get that kind. Whenever I buy cough drops, it’s a massive internal struggle to not grab the Luden’s. You know, the ones in the white box; the ones that may as well be candy? They were the only kind I’d take as a kid, and at age 44, they’re still the only kind I want. But I’m getting good at pretending to be a grown up, and I bought the Ricola.

Anyway, when it was bedtime Tuesday night, I mostly felt ok again. Still coughing a bit, but not enough to give it a second thought. Instead, I thought about Wednesday. 

Wednesday was special. My last day with a client I’ve worked with for two years. Also my last day with his class and the school staff, which I’ve also been with for two years. And my last day with the colleague I’ve been working with lately to take over the case from me. Then there was my Wednesday night respite time with a buddy of mine. Always a good time.

I woke up Wednesday morning and got out of bed. As soon as I stood up, I started coughing. Coughing so hard it made me puke. More than once. In the dark. And I ached from head to toe.

Goodbye, special Wednesday. Hello, sick day Wednesday.

I was in a real state most of the day. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. It wasn’t what I had planned. Plus, I was supposed to start working with a new client on Thursday. This could still get worse. 

One of my great skills – even better than buying too many comic books and eating too much pizza – is compounding depression with anxiety. I laid it on thick as I lay in bed Wednesday morning, feeling bad about not being there for my client, his class, the school staff, my co-worker, my respite pal. Maybe even my new client.

I gathered my courage and confronted my feelings straight on with one of my very best ninja moves.

I went to sleep for a few hours.

When I woke up, I still felt fairly crummy, but my head was in a better place. Aching, mind you, but in a better place. My subconscious had done a little shuffling of my mental playing cards while I snoozed, and I pulled an ace from to the top of the deck.

It was the Buddhist formula for suffering.

PAIN X RESISTANCE = SUFFERING

Yeah. No kidding.

I held the card in front of my mind’s eye and thought for a few minutes. I considered what I did and didn’t have control over. Put order to the chaos of depression and anxiety.

There was very little, if any control over my sickness. Cough drops, DayQuil, tea, and so on, but that was about it. Other things I had no control over: not being at work. Not being there to say goodbye the way I wanted to. Not being able to say “You’re awesome, and I’m glad you’re taking over for me” to my co-worker the way I wanted to. Not being there for my friend like I usually am on Wednesday nights. And very possibly not being there for my new client.

Then I took stock of what I did have control over: relaxing so my body could get better. Finding another way to say goodbye to my client, his peers, and the school staff. Reaching out to my co-worker in another way. Being ok with not being there for my friend this time because I know I will be there other times. Being there for my new client as soon as I can be.

The rest of the day was much more bearable, and by the time I went to bed, well, it doesn’t matter because I had another coughing fit like the ones I started the day with. I worried more about what would happen Thursday morning, but I reined it in. I was grounded enough to know that worrying about it would only lessen the amount of good I’d wake up feeling.

And when I woke up this morning, I felt … meh. Got caught up again in how this wasn’t how the first day with my new client was supposed to be and blah, blah, blah … I pushed past it and got ready for work. I wasn’t tip top, but I wasn’t feeling like I did 24 hours ago, either. 

For not feeling my best, today was pretty dang magical. All the stuff I felt bad about not being able to do yesterday, I got to do today in one way or another, with one exception. And I’m working on that. And I got to start on a new journey with a new client. 

There’s worse ways to not feel that great.

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