Beware: There is Illness Here
The appearance of a disease is swift as an arrow; its disappearance slow, like a thread. ~Chinese Proverb
In case you were wondering, it turns out that pride does go before a fall, and I am a perfect example of it. We have been in Korea for just about 6 months now, and - with the exception of a couple of mild 24-hour bugs - all of us have been quite healthy. Other people were getting colds and flu and walking pneumonia (they even sent a memo home from Son#2's school about it) and bronchitis and what have you, but here at Asia Vu, we have plodded along, healthy and resilient as a team of Clydesdales, seemingly immune to whatever Korea seemed to be dishing out to all the other expats. I chalked this up in part to our healthy lifestyle (ha), in part to luck, and in part to the fact that MrLogical and I - having been exposed to all manner of germs in our early years in Asia - had developed a certain amount of immunity to these things. (That didn't, of course, explain why the boys weren't getting sick, but work with me here.) Other people were taking antibiotics and breaking their ribs with violent coughing, but we seemed to be in a little oasis of good health, regardless of the germy miasma we were swimming in daily.
I cannot, of course, pin down the source of my malaise, but I am fairly certain I caught it while spending the morning observing classes at a local kindergarten (I doubt there is anything more virulent than a roomful of young children, and I say that as a parent) where I had applied to work as a part-time English teacher (yes, this was a stretch, and yes, my qualifications are for secondary school and University, but I had my reasons for being interested in this particular job.) In any case, while it seems that I did not get the job, I did get a hellacious cold as a consolation prize.
My fall from grace was swift and severe. On Sunday, I awoke feeling as though I'd run through a field of ragweed during pollen season, and optimistically assumed I was just having a bit of an allergy attack. By Monday afternoon, I felt like I'd been hit by a train, and did something that is completely antithetical to my stiff-upper-lip New England background: I took to my bed. Since then, I have been fit for absolutely nothing except lying in bed, producing industrial quantities of mucus, and coughing violently. This has been unpleasant and alarming for MrLogical, who has had the pleasure of trying to sleep while I wheeze and bark and sniff and snort, not to mention the fear of infection from my virulent self. Back home in the US, he would simply have repaired to the guest bedroom, well away from me and my microbes. However, here in our small Korean apartment with no guest bedroom, that was not an option, so he resorted to creating an ineffectual germ barrier between us with a wall of pillows, which, even in my weakened state, I recognized as fruitless and quite hilarious.
I am now on Day #3 of The Cold From Hell, and things seem to be improving marginally, possibly because I
I am mostly being an ideal patient: that is, I lie in bed, don't bother anyone (well, except MrLogical, and I consider this just and fair recompense for two pregnancies with his melon-headed offspring), and occasionally totter out to the kitchen for a mug of tea or a glass of water. Sadly, I am not at all attractive, like the Victorians who made an art of looking enormously romantic in befrilled nightgowns while appearing both wan and luminous. I took to my bed in a t-shirt that says, "I'm the evil twin" and a pair of yoga pants which have seen better days. Also, due to the fact that my entire head is full of mucus, I can only breathe through my mouth, which gives me the slack-jawed, dull-eyed appearance of an imbecile. The bright red nose (from blowing) and watery eyes complete the look. Thank God my family loves me anyway.
Now, it hasn't been all bad, mind you. In fact, there have been a few positives to this illness, such as:
- No appetite. Since I cannot smell or taste anything, I have absolutely no interest in food whatsoever, and therefore, have been eating next to nothing. (This is something worth noting, since there is practically never a time when I am not interested in eating.) This also has the advantage of preventing me from tasting all of the vile cough and cold preparations that I am dosing myself with.
- A chance to finish watching Season 4 of 'The Tudors.' - I never watched this back home, since I am not much of a tv-watcher to begin with and we didn't have Showtime (the channel it came on in the US) anyway. I discovered it a few weeks ago on Netflix and had been doling out to myself an episode per night, which seemed prudent for a middle-aged lady, given that most of the first 2 seasons were basically just what Son #2 described as 'historical sex.' I was just finishing up Season 3 when I was struck down, and found Season 4 to be the perfect sickbed viewing. By Season 4, most of Henry's saucy wenching was a thing of the past, so I could doze off during a torture scene in the Tower of London and wake to another lancing of His Majesty's ulcerated wound without feeling that I'd missed the general progress of the narrative. Besides, I knew how it turned out in the end anyway.
- Coddling from Son #1 and his friend, who made me chicken soup from scratch yesterday and served it to me on a tray in bed. This sort of attention from two college boys gives me renewed hope in mankind, which was not at all dimmed by the fact that -as mentioned above - I had no appetite.
- The opportunity to interface with technology. Being sick in the 21st century is ideal. As I speak, I am cuddled up to my laptop, flanked on one side by my phone and on the other side by my Kindle. Since we don't have regular cable tv here in Korea, when I tire of reading or dozing, I amuse myself by watching streaming video on Netflix or Hulu. This is accomplished by connecting our television to an elderly laptop (which we refer to as 'the mule') which I control from the bed by means of a wireless keyboard. Today, I am appreciating technology more than I ever have before.
Right now, I am feeling optimistic about my chances for recovery without professional intervention. My voice has already improved from basso profondo to basso cantante, and I hope to be at baritone by tomorrow. The coughing has slowed down to about once every other minute as opposed to every 30 seconds. And I can breathe (sporadically) through one of my nostrils. These things, to me, signify progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.
In the meantime, it's probably best if you keep your distance.