|Do you see the star? It marks the trail.|
We had a patch of beautiful sunny days right in the middle of the week. Although I wasn't feeling all that well, I went out into my garden patch and pulled weeds. I noticed that my throat was much more sore than it should have been, nagging at me. After an hour or two, I went back inside and pulled out a flashlight to inspect my tonsils in the mirror. Red and swollen, they didn't look right to me. When I was a kid I got tonsillitis all the time; the memory of how it felt began to resurface. By the next day, Wednesday, I called my doctor to see if he could see me. I was given an appointment with a doctor in the clinic who was new to me, but by this time I really didn't care. I knew I was sick when I should have been getting better.
He told me that a strain of streptococcus is going around our town and that he's seen more cases than usual lately, and apparently I had picked it up. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics. It's been more than a year since I last took any; I really hate to take them, but my compromised immune system must have allowed me to get a bacterial infection after recovering from the cold. I took them gladly, because by this time I had not only lost my voice but could barely stand to eat because of my sore throat. Not to mention I felt miserable. I took the first dose while still at the pharmacy.
By the next morning, Thursday, I was already feeling better. Not well by any means, but the day dawned beautiful and clear, with sun pouring in the windows. It was my hiking day with the Trailblazers, and I knew I had absolutely no business going. I thought to myself that I would act as if I were going, pack my backpack and head to the Senior Center but not actually go. Who was I kidding? When I showed up and saw that ten others were there, I decided to join them. They all knew I was sick and wondered about the wisdom of my attempting a rather hard nine-mile hike. Steve said that if I became too sick to continue, he would be glad to bring me back. That gave me the incentive to give it a try.
Although I was hiking more slowly than usual and had lost my voice completely by this time, I was glad I went because I felt better for the exercise and being outdoors in the sunshine. It was risky, but then again I've never been known to let that stop me. We were close to town and the consequences seemed minimal. I slept like a log Thursday night and woke on Friday feeling much, much better. Of course, the antibiotics helped too. Yesterday, Saturday, was the first day that I felt like myself again, although I still have a residual cough which is almost gone.
When I am sick, everything I love begins to recede into the background, and I become grumpy and short-tempered. I am not a good patient and tend to forget to appreciate the good food my partner fixes for me and how hard it must be for him. My world shrinks down to the size of my misery, and the blinders of illness make me forget how fortunate I am. And then I begin to recover, the blinders come off, and the world looks bright again. I begin to pay attention to something other than myself. The spring returns to my step. All's right with the world again.
And now I am well, or almost so. I am looking at illness in the rear-view mirror and marching off into my day. Sunday, my Eye on the Edge day, finds me here thinking about the past week and what I might have learned. One lesson is that my mood, my attitude towards life, is very dependent on my own physical health. When I am ill, the world looks quite different. If this is true for me, I wonder if it is true for most of us. Would I become accustomed to ill health and return to my baseline optimism eventually? Since growing older brings more and more physical limitations, perhaps there is some tipping point where it becomes the norm to see oneself as being frail and weak.
I say that, but then I feel the surge of wellness coursing through my veins and can hardly hold myself back from going out and enjoying life to the fullest. In my exercise class, there are some people (we are almost all women) who are more than a decade older than me and are still vigorous and healthy. They inspire me to continue for as long as I can, and I hope that some younger women will find inspiration from my own example.
The sun is rising earlier and earlier, and although it's only 6:00am, there is light in the sky, the birds are singing, all's right with the world. My partner is sleeping next to me; I drank my tea already, and my post is almost done. Today I'll work some more in the garden if the weather permits and doesn't rain. I've got a couple of new books to read, and two of my favorite TV shows are on tonight (Call the Midwife and Mad Men) for me to look forward to. I hope you have a wonderful week, and I'll be right here, God willing, next Sunday morning.