Monday, January 14, 2013

The Fog

I quizzed myself over and again. I googled various versions. This new cough, its first spasm registered as I entered the van after exiting Agway, could it have been caused by the fog? I felt fine, but the dry cough increased throughout the day. My brother was visibly disturbed. He didn't shake my hand. There's flu fear going around. But the fog, could it be an irritant? Could it make someone cough?

After a bout of wheezing in the summer of 2009, I spent the next year with a smart-alecky (like me) pulmonary doctor. Spots on my lung's X-rays resulted in a year and a half under the radiological gun looking for obvious changes in size and location of those spots. I had no idea what brought it on. Was it the radon from a month's worth of steamy showers at a residency, or was it a year and a half of dirty, dusty, toxic fumes at work? Maybe I was allergic to cat dander, or maybe the general moldy disrepair of our wooden apartment building? I had no idea. And we still don't. On my last exam, a PET scan rendering my full body in three dimensional layers of flesh, muscle, fat, veins, organs, and bones, I was released from pulmonary care -I was clear.

Ever since, I've been more sensitive, succumbing more easily to sinus and bronchial infections than I could remember. My condition is not aided by working in a brew of sickness and infection we like to call college. After 2011 -a particularly bad year, I learned the fine arts of identifying sick students -Is that sweat on your brow, I've noticed you are still wearing your coat, so how do you feel? I've got into the habit of spraying down our computers, switches, and handles with a citric-based germicide. It takes several hours to beat the flu so students are always asking why the keyboards are sticky.

Students come to school sick as a matter of rote behavior. They anticipate that their professors will have low tolerance for their absence. They are probably right. Plus, they are behind on their work, probably close to failing. These are the ones that compromise the health of those less able to bounce back; they are the chronically unprepared.

With less than a week before my exhibit in Providence, with work still to be done, I have had to accept today while plugging away half-heatedly, that at best I have a cold and at worst the flu.

I am very well aware of washing my hands, short of OCD. I've isolated myself in the studio since Thursday. I did what I could to not get sick and i felt great, until I didn't.

Was it the fuel pump at the gas station, the ATM, any number of interior door handles, the change from the lackluster coffee I bought or was it the cup, maybe it was that strange and needy friend who required sleeping on our couch last night because of something about vibrations in her Manhattan apartment building? I'll never know, and now it shouldn't matter, but I feel slightly better for the opportunity to express the confoundedness of getting sick out of thin air, or was it the fog.


7 comments:

  1. Poor Frank. I'm like you when I get sick, I go all CSI to find the probable cause. We now eat slices of raw ginger as a matter of course when flu goes around. I have no idea if it is effective. It feels effective.

    And of course everyone will tell you what to eat. So I'll zip my lips :-)I hope it does not last long...

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  2. Have to ask, did you get the flu shot?

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    1. Sarahh, I'll always be grateful that you brought me soup the last time I got the flu in January 1998. That was the worse ever.

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    2. If I were there now you'd get soup too. Feel better :(

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  3. Yuk. Narsty stuff being passed around.

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    1. You said it. Half the newscasters were out because of flu.

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