My doctor called it “a nasty little virus.” Sure it was, like Cujo was a nasty little house pet. A week ago, I woke up with that “uh-oh” feeling: dry eyes, scratchy throat. The kid had been sick, and I jokingly accused her of giving me her disease. (She herds children for a living, so she has access to all of the best bugs.) But if it was her disease, I took it and made it my own.

On Saturday morning, I was able to make it to a meeting at my new job,but by the afternoon I was in bed. Sunday was worse.  I was certain that my throat would simply swell shut, which might have been acceptable if it would stop the sensation that said throat was being shredded by cheese graters. I couldn’t breathe; I was trying not to swallow because it hurt so much when I did. I ached all over. I couldn’t stop coughing. My neck was swollen and my ears were burning. Worst of all, I couldn’t talk comfortably. But then again, I didn’t even want to.

Monday I was at the doctor’s office. Although relieved to be able to rule out Strep throat and tonsillitis, I left feeling affronted by the diagnosis and treatment: how could something that didn’t even have its own name be making me so miserable? And “give it a week?” Of this? I did not want a week of this. I was already feeling guilty about so many things: staying in bed all day, barely talking to my family, getting nothing done- not even wanting to read my library books.

Tuesday was as bad as Monday, and I had an episode of coughing so severe I wondered if I might vomit or pass out. I was constantly blowing my nose. At night, I would doze off, wake up, cough and/or blow my nose and try to go back to sleep. The digital clock across the room allowed me to track intervals ranging from 20 to 40 minutes; it helped pass the time.

Wednesday morning, I had  a little nosebleed. It lasted a bit longer than it should have, because given a situation demanding an either/or answer (in this case- tilt head back or tilt head forward), I am inclined to make the wrong call.  I attributed it to the wear and tear on my nose from all that blowing and coughing, and to the fact that I had taken several aspirin over the past few days in hope of relieving the swelling and pain. I made a mental note to lay off the aspirin.

Overall, I was starting to feel better, but frustrated. I got some laundry done, and caught up with a little more housework. I still couldn’t talk normally, and had to cancel two literacy classes. I really hated that. I was supposed to start my job the next day. I knew I was in no position to deal with the public, so made that dreaded call.

I spent the afternoon trying to get my attitude in order. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself. I couldn’t focus on the negative, and the time wasted. I searched for some lesson or benefit from this time. The Kid came home from work, and for the first time in days I was able to enjoy just hanging around with her, catching up and talking about the promotion she was applying for at work. Around 6 p.m., the second nosebleed started. The Kid, who is Red Cross certified (“I’ll save the crap out of you”) corrected my head tilting. We continued to visit, me changing my compresses from time to time. Eventually she got concerned: “This isn’t supposed to take so long.” I wasn’t really worried; the nosebleed may have seemed relentless, but it was definitely low volume- more of an annoyance than anything else, considering how much worse I’d been feeling in the last couple of days.

Sometimes it’s hard to judge what is “normal.” In the abstract, I can be somewhat morbid and hypochondriacal. In practice, however, I strive for rationality and stoicism.  I don’t like to overreact. I mention this to explain why it took three hours or so to decide to bother my neighbor and walking buddy, who is a nurse. She got a look at me, and sat with me for a while before saying that I should probably head to the urgent care office, just to be safe.

We got there to find the doors locked, but people still inside. We knocked politely; nothing. I walked around to another window, trying to get someone to look at my face. (At this point, I was looking a little like a losing middle weight contender.) We tried to call, with the predictable result.  You know when you know that you are being ignored? I hate that. I especially hate it when, after checking my phone later, I realized that they had closed early.

Next: The 500$ Nosebleed