It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to update the blog. Two weeks ago, I caught the plague. You may laugh, but it’s true. If it wasn’t the plague, it was something damn close.
Two Tuesdays ago, I had a meeting scheduled with one of my direct reports. He’d just returned from Buenos Aires and we needed to touch base about what was to be accomplished in the week ahead. He closed the door and immediately began to cough. I asked him if he was sick and he told me that he’d had a sore throat for the last nine days, which had evolved into a cough. If looks could kill, he would’ve been dead and buried after the side eye I threw his way.
See, one thing I don’t mess around with is germs. I am a certified germaphobe (which I just discovered isn’t actually a legit word, but there is an entry in the Urban Dictionary, so humor me). I keep a can of Lysol on my desk (and a mini can in my purse), wash my hands constantly, and make use of hand sanitizer throughout the day. I’m a pretty gentle and non-confrontational person, but have been known to curse people all the way out for potentially exposing me to their germs. Hence, the dirty look I gave my colleague. Our meeting wasn’t important and if he was sick, he should’ve stayed at home and not come to work to infect everyone else!
Anyway, Tuesday, I was fine, but Wednesday morning, I woke up with a tickle in my throat that, by Wednesday night, was a full-on throbbing. Every swallow was painful. Wednesday night, I headed down to DC on Amtrak for an all-day conference on Thursday and grand plans of spending the weekend with my folks, my friends, and the love of my life, Nas. Yes, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, the rapper. Back in December, I caught wind of an epic opportunity to see Nas perform with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in honor of the 20th anniversary of his legendary album, Illmatic. I’ve loved Nas from way back. First, he’s adorable, so there’s that. But then, he’s got this New York swagger (which is all his own because I’ve met dudes from Queens and they don’t have swagger like that), and even though he’s so clearly… “urban”… his intellect is off the charts! (As is evidenced by the new Harvard fellowship created in his name.) Anyway, obviously, I was ecstatic about the concert and had jumped through all kinds of hoops to make sure that this particular weekend stayed clear of other events so I could be in DC to see this one-of-a-kind show.
I told my mom that I wasn’t feeling well and by the time I made it to my parents’ house in MD, she had a pot of chicken soup on the stove waiting for me. I ate that and went straight to bed in preparation of the conference on Thursday. I felt immediately better after eating the soup my mom no doubt made with much love, but when I woke up Thursday morning, my throat was ON FIRE. I went to the conference anyway (isn’t that ironic that now *I* would be the one infecting everyone else), but had to leave early because I felt so awful. Instead of going back to my parents’, I drove myself straight to urgent care.
If you haven’t been to urgent care, let me just tell you know: it is the most amazing concept ever invented. You can walk into one of these places without an appointment, see an emergency room doctor almost immediately, and also get your meds right in the same building. When I saw the doctor, she took one look inside my mouth and put me on an antibiotic. She told me to take the pills and if I wasn’t better in two days, I should report back to her for further treatment options.
Two days later, not only was I not feeling better, I was 100 times worse! I might as well have been popping M&Ms instead of the amoxicillin the doctor prescribed. I returned to urgent care teary-eyed. Not because I was sick, but because I was sitting on the examination table with tonsils so swollen, I could barely breathe, and later that evening I had a date with Nas. The doctor took another look at my tonsils and gave me a look to suggest she was stumped. She prescribed a stronger antibiotic and also prescribed steroids to help with the swelling, which she had a nurse bring into the room so I could start them immediately. Before I left, I asked to borrow a writing pad and a pen, and I wrote (because I could not talk): “I have concert tickets tonight. Can I go?” And in response, she actually laughed. Laughed! Not the response I had been expecting. I swallowed (painfully), and began to cry (painfully). Not because of the pain I was in, or because I was scared, but because I was totally frustrated that my body could betray me on such an important day.
I had to text my cousin who was my date for the night and who, like me, had been waiting for this concert for months, to let her know that I wouldn’t be able to go with her and she began a last minute scramble to find someone to take my place. I sat at home on a couch in my parents’ living room while my cousin got to enjoy my date with Nas. Like the sweetheart that she is, she recorded video of the show and sent it to me, so it was almost like I was there (not really).
I also never got to do any of the other things I had planned that weekend like going to see my grandma or my 18-month old niece. I spent the entire weekend going from my bed, to the couch, to urgent care, and by the time I was packing my bags to head back to NY on Sunday, I was still sick. My mom didn’t feel comfortable letting me go back by myself, so she returned to the City with me. This was a huge sacrifice because my mother, who attended college in NYC back in the 60s (aka NYC’s “dark period”), absolutely abhors the City. I know this because she has asked me no less than 200 times “why anyone would want to live in that God-forsaken place”. But, she still packed her bag and bought a last-minute one-way ticket on my train back to NY. She stuck around for several days doing what mom’s do, cooking, cleaning, and babying me until she was satisfied that I could take care of myself on my own.
While it was fantastic to have her there, when she left that Thursday, I felt a sense of relief because I am turning into an introvert that values my alone time in my apartment, but I also felt a deep sense of loneliness. Had my mom not made the decision to come back to NY with me, who would’ve cared for me? I have friends here that are fabulous for happy hours and brunches and parties and shopping. But when I am faced with the plague and need some juice, or more garlic for the soup that *I’m* making for *myself* (because I can’t rely on anyone else to do it), could I count on them?
Maybe it’s because being sick made me feel extremely vulnerable, or maybe it’s because I’m turning 35 in two months and my impending birthdays always cause me to be introspective. But either way, I’m starting to realize that I need to work on building a support system. This was a situation where my illness was only temporary, but suppose – God forbid – it had been more serious? It’s been five years since I’ve been in the City, yet the only people on whom I can count live hundreds of miles away in another city. The glitz and glamour of the City are what brought me here, but I hadn’t recognized that I’d be leaving other comforts and assurances behind. What does that mean to me? Does it have to mean anything at all? Is a support system necessary? These are all questions I’m asking myself two weeks after I beat whatever it was I had.
I guess it goes without saying that being out of commission for over a week put me behind in a lot of areas in my life, including blogging, and that’s the reasoning behind my long hiatus. And even though two weeks have passed, the prick who passed me his germs is still getting stabbed with my sharp glares.