11/23/24 (Thanksgiving)

And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Good grief. Having to come up with a moment of happiness after a week of being really sick is a challenge. Not only a week of being sick, but a week of mishaps and mistakes by the medical industry that left me sicker instead of better, and it was during a week that I wasn’t teaching so that I could glue myself to the computer and work on the new novel. Which I still managed to do, just not as much as I planned.


Well, actually, I can think of some things. It’s amazing how important creature comforts become during times like these. Two of my creature comforts were actually creatures! But here is a list of what helped.

  • Chicken soup. Now this one is a mixed bag for me. I actually purely hate chicken soup. Once, when I was about thirteen years old, my mother, never a great cook except for potato salad and cole slaw, took it upon herself to make homemade chicken soup. The house reeked of the cooking soup all day, and unbeknownst to us, I was in the process of getting the worst case of stomach flu. As the smell (note I do not say aroma) grew more and more pervasive, I grew more and more nauseous. About the time the soup was done, so was I. From that point on, I have associated the smell of chicken soup with vomiting. When my kids were little and sick, I had the hardest time not gagging while I fed them Campbell’s Chicken With Stars soup.

But on my first real visit to see Michael when he still lived in Omaha, he introduced me to, of all things. Maruchan ramen noodle soups. You know, the cheap ones in the cellophane package that you can pick up at the store for like ten for a dollar. The chicken noodle soup was amazing (so is the chili flavor!). And so that’s what I had (the chicken noodle, not the chili) at the height of illness this week. It felt so good on my throat and it cleared up my sinuses for a few minutes…and I know it’s probably the only chicken soup that isn’t all that healthy. But it was oh so good.

  • Root beer floats. I was about three or four days into this episode when I suddenly began to crave a root beer float. Not a shake, not ice cream…a float. We went to Culvers and I had to take Michael because my voice wasn’t working. I’ve had several floats this week, and with my latest visit to the doctor, I came home to find Michael had stocked the fridge with vanilla ice cream and root beer. I’m all set for recovery.
  • Sleep has never ever felt so good. It became a challenge to fall asleep between coughing fits, because once I was asleep, it seemed I could stay that way. But add to this sleep that I was covered to the nose with two blankets, but also had a fan blowing…heaven. When I woke in a fever sweat, I had the fan. When I had the chills, I was buried. And every now and then, I was joined by a little gray cat named Muse who perched on my shoulder and purred. Creature #1.
  • Watching reruns of the old television game show, Match Game. Michael discovered on the Freevee channel that there were several old TV game shows from our childhood being replayed. One was the classic Match Game, with Gene Rayburn, Richard Dawson, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and more. This was the game that introduced my young teenage self to the power of innuendo. And one week in 1973, the show featured Michael Learned and a young Richard Thomas from The Waltons. It’s hard to laugh and cough at the same time, but I was happy to do so.
  • Well, books are always a creature comfort, aren’t they. I ripped through Elizabeth Berg’s Earth’s The Right Place For Love like a mad woman, bringing it with me to every trip to the doctor.
  • Oh, my dog, Ursula. Creature comfort #2. Typically, if I sit down next to Ursula on the loveseat that serves as her bed, she flips onto her back, bares her teeth in a smile, and waits for a tummy rub. But on these mornings, she sat up, tucked herself under my arm, and leaned into me, tucking her head on my chest. What a hug. When I sat at my desk, she was beside me, with her concrete head on my knee. Now that I have a nebulizer for breathing treatments, she’s caught between running up to save me from the machine and tearing from the room in fear. She’s been choosing tearing from the room, but she always comes back to make sure I’m okay.

And through it all, I’m healing and I’m going to be okay. The hardest part was that my regular doctor, who has known me for over two decades, was out of town and I had to face off with new young doctors who seem to mostly think that the only illnesses in this world are Covid, RSV, and the flu. They would tick off each one, nope, nope, nope, declare me fine, just a little cold, and send me home, despite the fact that I was wheezing loud enough that people in the waiting room stood up and moved away from me. I kept telling them what it was, bronchitis that then throws my asthma out of control, but they didn’t listen. Luckily, my doctor came back into town yesterday, saw what was happening, and called me in, even though he had to stay after hours to fit me into his schedule. He listened, kept saying, “Yep, there it is, yep, there it is,” and set me up with a predisone burst, a breathing treatment, and antibiotics. He even got me an at-home nebulizer, which I’ve never had before, so I can have the breathing treatments throughout the holiday weekend and terrify my dog.

I have never been more grateful for a doctor who listens. And who realizes that at the age of 63, I am the one who is the most knowledgeable about my body.

All is well here. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone. Be grateful for life and breath, and for all the people who love you.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving from me to you!

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