Brief Announcement of Little Interest
I have posted neither column nor comment since August 1. This slacking is not due to heat. People say it has been in the very low 80's here in Rockford. Nor am I annoyed with anyone or anything. I should have suspected something. I don't write much poetry any more, and when I do--as at the end of last week--I can only concentrate on verse, it is because more prosaic rational thought is being undermined.
It started on Saturday. I'd spent much of friday eating out, smoking a cigar, and talking for hours with an occasional glass of wine and was not surprised to find I had a minor sore throat and a feeling that it was time to get back to some kind of workout routine. But we went to a later Mass on Sunday--rather a good sermon--and, although I was tempted all day to back out, I promised to grill a 2 inch ribeye and make perfect French fries.
When the children arrived, I had a drink or two of Maryland bourbon brought as a gift by a friend who came to Summer Seminar. My son-in-law informed me that the bottle was opened because an older gentleman came into the house and asked, on my instructions, for a drink. My son-in-law tried to suggest that he shouldn't open a gift. The man said, "IT will be all right," without revealing that he was the giver of the gift. Thanks, Bruce. It's drier than a lot of bourbon.
The steak was good, French fries were perfect, and my daughter brought a dessert. They left by 9:30, but going to bed early does not guarantee a good night's sleep. Next morning, the throat tickle was getting ominously like a sore throat, and I had a hangover I had not earned.
I wondered about simply resting all Monday but I had several errands and appointments, By lunch time, I felt the throat soreness was increasing and fatigue had been added to my very minor irritations. I lay down for a late afternoon nap, and things get hazy after that. I slept away the better part of two and a half days, sometimes in near-delerium, though thermometers did not detect a fever. I had eaten a light breakfast and light lunch on Monday, but when dinner came I could not eat, partly because of appetite and partly because the throat was closing up to the point I could scarcely take in water, much any other liquid, much less a dose of aspirin, which usually works.
Not being a physician or an anatomist, I can't tell you which part of the throat is causing the most trouble, but my conservative pediatrician refused to yank my tonsils out, when I was a boy, even though I had several severe bouts of tonsilitis. Since there is no fever, it is most likely not bacterial tonsillitis, which can be knocked out today with antibiotics. The the intensity of my fatigue is something I have only experienced once, about 10 years ago, when I was sick for months with what I thought was influenza but which a little checking revealed to be probably of a class of cold viruses with which the world is currently obsessed.
So, COVID19 or Not COVID 19, that is the question.
On the one side of the equation: extreme fatigue (check), bad sore throat (check), loss of appetite (check), some discomfort in muscles (check), difficulty concentrating (check).
On the other side: Two Moderna jabs, a reclusive existence.
With the question formulated, I decided to look into credible medical reports on vaccinated people who have been fully vaccinated. I learned, first, that this may be more common with the Delta variant moving into Northern Illinois from the wildernesses of Saint Louis, and second, that the vaccine is effective in putting up resistance to attacks of Delta variant on the respiratory system--nose, throat, etc. But that the vaccinated who do succumb suffer less intense symptoms and for a shorter time.
Wednesday morning I was troubled to discover that my throat was perhaps 95% sealed and breathing was becoming complicated. I had lost my voice, mostly, but the virus was trying to get into the bronchial tubes and lungs. I have always believed one should not make the devil or microbes comfortable, so I took a standard dose of pseudephhed--the little red pills, I could just squeeze through if I sprayed the throat with chloroseptic and chiseled away the growing pile of muck left behind in the war between the virus and the antibodies. This helped but I quit mid-afternoon, because pseudephed keeps me awake.
Things got dicey about 2 AM. I couldn't sleep because every time I passed out for a moment, my ghastly snoring and growling awakened me. I was trying to keep my throat a bit open by taken baby ibuprofen in a disgusting liquid, but it took all day to get down one and a half adult doses.
In my semi-delirium, I keep hearing on a feedback loop Marty Robbins singing, Bob Nolan's "Cool Water": "All day I faced the burning waste without a trace of water, cool clear water." Alas I know the whole song, and it never lets go, and the occasional drops in the mouth did little to appease the thirst. When I did try to bolt down a half teaspoon, the water went down pulling barbed wire in its wake. I was barking and screaming like a rabid dog.
Finally at about four I realized I was drowning in my own saliva and mucus and had to get up to expectorate about every five minutes. Sleep was impossible. I threw in the towel and took more pseudephed and maintained the once every two hour spray of chloroseptic. I slept for perhaps 10 minutes but felt a good deal better.
I had not eaten since Monday at noon, and since then I had drunk perhaps a half glass of water. For dinner on Monday my wife made what should have been the perfect dish, vichyssoise, but, although it was less salty than most, it set the throat on fire. Family members were quick to suggest a doctors's visit or a trip to the emergency room. My four days last September were enough for one year, enough for a lifetime.
Spending time with doctors and nurses is a risky business. They are always asking you if you check your blood pressure, heart beat, temperature. After the Rockford Chainsaw Massacre last September, I even had to keep a log for over a month. My soul had been scarred with the lust for forbidden knowledge, and I was still curious enough to want to check how much weight I had dropped in 3 and a half days. 9 pounds.
Why do people make such a big deal about diets? I have the perfect diet. Eat and drink nothing and you are guaranteed to lose over 15 pounds a week. Please don't steal my idea and sell it to Hollywood or Madison Avenue. This is my only chance for a life of dignified comfort!
I am at the point of achieving the American dream--stardom among the diet quacks. I am already sketching out my infomercial for late night Cable TV:
Friends, do you want to lose weight but just can't seem to do it? Tried the Paleo Diet and got a heart attack? Don't give up. Years ago Doctor Tom was researching arcane literature produced by a bizarre sect known as Benedictine Monks. (Note: They're called Benedictines because they were always high on the stuff). These Benedictines carried on a sacred tradition involved work, prayer and fasting. Yes, my friends, FASTING! In this godless world of sin, ruled by a Masonic conspiracy in the Vatican, there once were spiritual masters who knew it was important, once in a while, to say no to all your vices. Because, now pay close attention here, because when you go back to eating rich foods, drinking whiskey, and chasing women, you will get more out of it. Friends, with Dr Tom's Ancient Benedictine Diet Plan©, you won't have to follow any elaborate diet plan or make lists of good and bad foods. Eat, and drink like hogs all your long, and then just find someone to lock you up for three days with a cup of water you have to ration. In fact, I am adding a room onto my house, where you can come and stay for $2000 a day. There's no charge for meals...
I sent my wife out for Aspergum chewable aspirin, but this wonderful medical product for those who suffer throat pain is no longer made. So I reverted to my mother's technique. In a mortar and pestle I ground 4 aspirin very fine, adeded perhaps a half teaspoon sugar--Solace wanted, no Mary Poppins imitators need apply--to which I added perhaps a tablespoon of water.
Since the first test was bound to be excruciating, I did what I could to maximize the opening--chloroseptic, hot water gargles, and managed on the first try to get about a third down, and over the next few hours finished the lot.
Over the morning I drank nearly an entire cup of cool clear water (ru through a Camelbak filter) and for lunch had two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt with honey, followed by a tiny slice of watermelon. If I did not take time to chew each morsel thoroughly, the water melon pulp backed up at the barrier, but with only discomfort and no real pain.
I am still plainly witless, as you can see, with no strength in my limbs, but you probably cannot imagine the blessing I have in drinking ice water in my hospital mug, I'll try the vichyssoise, and if the salt still stings, ice cream awaits me.
I'll know I am well when I can turn to serious reading. During this episode, I managed to reread Bulldog Drummond and the Black Gang, on the whole better structured than the first, Joseph Wambaugh's New Centurions--didn't like it any better the second time--and this afternoon, moving up a notch, Cyril Hare's "An English Murder."
Oh, and I almost forgot. I can take a sip of water any time I want.