The recent deluge haranguing Montego Bay has put a damper on so many things. Parties are in danger of being rained out, employees have yet another excuse for being late, and most frustratingly I can’t get the sunshine time my laundry needs to dry.
While I’m stuck in this limbo land of weather, I am realizing with greater certainty how important it is to be patient, with the world and myself. All good things take time; seeds and stories and life plans must germinate before they can flourish. Though Montego Bay is utterly miserable in a downpour, the rain brings much needed refreshment to a parched and grimy landscape.
In an effort to remind myself about this need to be patient I started a ‘Future journal’. In it I have been writing down all the things I think I need to have a good life. It seems materialistic, but by writing down these worldly wants I find that I can filter out most of my day-to-day whims (which are never necessities but still somehow make me feel like I’m missing something vital) and focus on the true essentials.
In the middle of this cold front I also managed to get sick again, which has reminded me to pace myself and listen more keenly to what my body is saying. Right now it’s saying that I need a health dose of Vitamin C and more blankets. But I hope the lessons in patience and listening will stick around even after my sneezing fits are over.
The evolution of an illness is similar to the evolution a story.
My colds always start with sniffles and a tickle at the back of my throat. Except instead of a tickle it’s more like a yard fowl decided to gently graze for scraps on my soft palate. Naturally I get a sore throat.
The next day I have serious sinus issues. My nose is Niagara Falls – the rushing water and the dam all at once. I take cold medicine, which wins the battle but not the war. My upper respiratory tract infection starts to trickle downstream.
Because I don’t cut my nose off, all that Niagara falls goodness gets washed down into my bronchi and smaller airways. Two days later I’m coughing up a lung – that yellow stuff, so you know it’s infected.
Shortness of breath and chest pain go hand in hand with the hacking, reminding me this isn’t some simple flu and that I probably have a pneumonia (for the umpteenth time). This goes on for a week or so before I try to get help. When I give in to the less-than-kind remarks about my unhealthy appearance (thank you, work colleagues) it’s antibiotics and sick leave that doesn’t involve actually resting.
Despite myself I get better, though it takes the better part of two weeks. My body rediscovers its equilibrium, but the cycle is always poised to start again.
Like my cough started with some virion, stories start with an idea. A suggestion that replicates and multiplies into something significant. That grows from its point of origin towards some inexorable, organic destiny. Stories run their course despite us, whether they are stopped prematurely or reach a natural conclusion. And the writer rests, but the cycle is always ready to start again.
It’s not even the over-in-two-days sneezy head cold kind of sick. I have aches and pains manifesting themselves out of thin air and taking up residence in my joints and sinuses. I have a constant headache, no appetite and a cough that would make a smoker wince. My nose has gone bipolar: alternately weepy and obstinate with no perceivable impetus.
I’m sick and I hate it.
But it’s my fault. I’ve been stretching myself too thin and not eating properly enough to compensate. Learn from my mistakes, you guys.
In addition to classes twice a day at the hospital, I’m dancing six hours every Saturday (four of them straight) with two more hours on Sunday; I’ve been volunteering three hours a week at the Office of Special Student Services (reading aloud to visually impaired students/walking with them around campus); I’ve been trying (finally succeeded on Tuesday) to volunteer at the West Indian Medical Journal (proofreading and editing!); and for the last week I’ve been staying out ’til 1AM helping some students prepare for a dance competition (Yes, choreographing. But they didn’t place. You lose some, you lose some).
All this running up and down (as my grandmother would say) has placed greater demands on my body than I have been supplying. You can’t expect to eat nothing but cornbread and cheese for a whole week and stay healthy, Robyn. My mother is appalled at the way I have been treating myself.
Kids, when you leave home for the first time the most important lesson to learn is how to not get sick. Because your mother isn’t there to look after you and it’s a cold, cold world. No, really, it’s a cold, cold – crap.
Maybe my first post after nearly three weeks should have been more celebratory. All I know is I’m trying to get over a cold without the benefit of having my mother around for the first time in all my twenty years. And I hope to God it’s not Dengue Fever. (My mother says it isn’t).
I have officially moved on to Mary Seacole Hall in the You Double-u Eye at Mona. Again, forgive the lack of enthusiasm, the department store was out of confetti. I had tried writing an advice post while waiting for the internet service to get up and running, but that failed rather cheerfully. At least, it wasn’t a miserable failure.
Really, I have no advice to offer. I’m making all the mistakes. Maybe I should write about my mistakes so people know what not to do. I’m a stellar example of how not to live communally.
At the same time, the only bit of advice I’ve gotten was from a security guard on the proper way of managing a chest cold.
“You need to get that out of you.”
“You need to get that out of you.”
“You need some garlic and honey.”
“You have garlic?”
“Get some, crush it up on a plate -” at this point I swear to God I thought he was talking about some kind of aphrodesiac. Don’t ask. That’s just where my mind goes. “- add some honey and mix it up.”
“Two spoons of that and you soon stop cough.”
“Oh. Okay. Thank you.”
All this taking place as he escorted me to the guard post because I didn’t have a visitor’s pass and it wasn’t my hall.