I was the sickest I can remember ever being this past week. On Sunday night I began to come down with a cold, but by Tuesday afternoon I knew it was not my usual sniffle-for-a-few-days-and-get-over-it kind of illness. I don't usually get sick, and I can't remember the last time I had a fever. But by my fourth day of fevering, I was starting to forget what it was like to be able to regulate my temperature, and when I finally hobbled to the urgent care on Wednesday, the doctor told me I had an upper respiratory infection. Thanks to modern medicine, I'm on the mend.
Since beginning the recovery, and regaining the ability to do any thinking outside of basic survival, I've had a lot of thoughts. When my illness was at its height, and I was lying on my couch with a temperature of 103, I kept seeing the face of the Count from The Princess Bride flashing through my head, saying: "If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything." In my fevered delirium, I thought this was just the most profound thing anyone had ever said.
Even if Count Rugen's words are not quite as profound as I found them while lying prostrate, he had a point. Loss of physical ability and the slow recovery have shown me how precious a thing health is, and how when it's taken away, it changes everything. I had big plans for all that I would accomplish this week, and instead I did absolutely nothing. Even now, five days into my antibiotics, I'm still sluggish and moving slowly as my body mends itself.
When I was sick, I could think of nothing but being sick. Yet I know people who are chronically ill, who deal with being sick and feeling miserable every single day. Losing out on a few days to being sick suddenly made me realize how difficult it would be to be kind, or patient, or to feel necessary if I was sick every single day.
Being so ill also gave me a sudden appreciation for the importance of others. I am a completely self-sufficient person, but I suddenly became very dependent on my roommates, and phone calls to my mom. I even had an irrational moment (when my temperature was probably high enough to cause me to be irrational) during which I thought my pulse was so high that I might have a heart attack or spontaneously explode (or something crazy like that.) Anxiety is a real thing, and just telling myself to calm down was not nearly enough. But talking with my mom and my roommates not only calmed me down, but days later is making me thankful for the people in my life who love me.
It's good to be very, very weak from time to time, because it shows us how grateful we should be for the things we take for granted--like good health. And it shows us how important it is to be thankful for the people who are willing to help pick us up and carry us along in our moments of weakness.
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
Eugene H. Peterson
The Devil in the White City
Peter A. Pitzele