The Wisdom of Illness
January 10, 2011
Cruising at an altitude of a low-grade fever, I decided it might be a good idea to visit the doctor yesterday, even though it was Sunday and I had to wait all day for the ’emergency hours’ to be open. My husband kindly drove me the twenty minutes, all the while having to listen to the moans of a person on the brink of another sweat outbreak.
Luckily, we were the first patients to arrive. I tried my hardest not to look ill, but you know, when you are, you are. Peering at the wall of pictures, I expected to be greeted by the grey-haired man who showed up in each of them. Not so. A very young-looking fellow (who, I swear, had an eery resemblence to my son’s best friend, who is, um, ten) welcomingly extended his hand.
“I’d better not,” I said sheepishly, followed by an apology for being rude. He grinned and I knew we were going to get along famously. He escorted me into his office as I peeled off layers of clothing now drenched in my feverish clammyness. A tap here, a look there, and he concluded that I had flu-like symptoms.
I could have told him that.
“Oh, and you have very low blood pressure.”
I cast him a glassy-eyed look. “I’ve been lying down all day.” He grinned again. Somehow he found me amusing. He commented on my accent-free German and tried to distract me with banalities. His recommendation?
“Drink plenty of fluids, take ibuprofen and don’t do anything.”
Ah, the wisdom of illness. It teaches us that we can indeed slow down to the beat of our hearts. Nice.
The doctor was quite pleasant, really, and when I left, I managed to remember not to call him by my son’s best friend’s name.
Luckily, I don’t have the swine flu (my worst fear abated). Illness is a great reminder of the power of slow. A little more beingness, a lot less do-do-do. And if you forget, your body reminds you, landing you in your sickbed for some casual pauses and a moment of pristine rest.