My face felt like a water balloon stuffed with cotton wool. I could only breathe through my mouth and my nose was leaking like a poorly made faucet. ‘Woozy’ doesn’t quite describe the whirly way the world swirled around me. I don’t believe in allowing myself to get sick, but unfortunately some things seem to happen whether I believe in them or not; like gravity, or the economy.
I’d been fighting the slowly encroaching sickness all week; the sniffles, the stuffiness, the dizziness, the nastiness. But I was pretty confident I could combat the illness with a heavy dose of Denial. So I’m feeling a little stuffy, so what? That doesn’t mean I can’t go to gym (Mission Succexy is on FULL THROTTLE!). When the sneezing started, and the running nose, and the sore throat, I thought nah, I’ll be fiiiiiine. I’m just being weak and trying to turn little molehill issues into mountainous gym-skipping excuses. So every day I trekked to Virgin Active and weakly got onto the treadmill, placing myself amongst the dozens of healthy, glowing, exercising bodies. As the week went on and my cold became a freeze, my forty minute runs were slowly reduced to twenty minutes of alternating cycling and panting on the bicycle. I would then weakly totter off the machine to my car, my echinaeforce and my heated blanket.
My denial even let me brush away the woozy dizziness that kept on striking at unsuspecting moments. So I’m feeling a little lightheaded, so what? See, I believe that sickness is like faeries – it only exists if you believe it exists. I was pretty sure if I pretended that the ‘I-might-be-getting-sick feelings’ weren’t there, they would go away. I thought things like, ‘Yeah, I’ll admit it’s weird that I feel so shaky, but my blood sugar is probably just a little low.’
Then, of course, there’s the sneezing. So I just sneezed thirteen times in a row, so what? People sneeze! Everyone sneezes. That doesn’t mean I’m sick. It just means someone, probably, you know, dropped some pepper or something. Or that I’m allergic to work.
I told myself that since I’m not sick, it’s perfectly OK, normal, expected even, to go out on Friday (and Saturday) – right? Right. On Friday cheap sushi with good friends lead to a jug of margaritas in Long street, and then – at midnight, the second Annelie added another candle to her cake – we had celebratory shots. But we made a mistake. Instead of a springbokkie or even Jaegermaester, we had something awful. Unspeakably awful. We had tequila. But it gets worse. It wasn’t just regular tequila. We had jelly tequila.
Now tequila and I have met before. The sneaky liquor goes straight to my head; one is enough to make me giggly and very affectionate. I’ve had it plain, with salt and lemon, with sugar and orange slices, even just with sugar (it’s called a ‘pancake’ then and don’t let the sugar trick you, like it did me, into having several). I’ve even had strawberry tequila (which was weird; first bleh TEQUILA then hmm nice, strawberries). But of all the tequila shots I’ve had in all bars in all the world, the jelly tequila shot is the WORST. Annelie said it tasted like it was “made in a sock”. She then added that it was “slow motion tequila”. The shot did not, as the bar lady blithely promised, taste like the vermouth it was laced with. Instead it was like chewing jelly (sweet but strange) then WHAM! you’re chewing tequila. No one should chew tequila. I wouldn’t wish such a fate on my worst enemy.
But, as I blow my nose again, I must say that I’ve run out of excuses and therefore, bitterly and reluctantly, concede defeat. I thig I’m a liddle sig.
I mean how much freaking snot can one little nose make? I’ve turned into a mucus factory. It’s disgusting. And uncomfortable. It feels like people have been dancing on my sinuses and my tissue expenditure has spiked dramatically. But let me rather stop describing the mucus attack before I create an unbreakable barrier of unattractiveness around myself.
Part of the reason I chose Denial as my treatment of choice instead of something more effective is because I don’t like going to the doctor. I really believe that we’re an overmedicated, over cleaned, over anti-bacterialised society. We’re creating super germs with our all out approach to cleanliness. A little dirt never hurt anyone and a little struggle makes you stronger. I’d still like to get some saline solution to squirt up my unfortunate snozz, but the only two pharmacies I’ve stumbled over in this new city are closed on a Sunday. So instead I will go to Plan B: suffer and become a deeper, more meaningful person (until Monday, when the shops open again). Please buy my poetry book when sales start, it’s a deeply moving collection entitled Sneezing in the City: A Moving Tale of a Minor Illness.
Not to reminisce, but I totally know where all the pharmacies are in Pretoria, my home city. And if I couldn’t find an open one my mom would know where I would. Getting to know a brand new city is an achingly slow process, especially when you’re also building social networks and learning how to do a new job all at the same time.
If I was sick at home right now I know exactly what would be happening. Firstly, I’d be lying in my mom’s bed, watching TV while being fed soup and sympathy. (Speaking of which, screw laughter – sympathy is the best medicine.) Aside from soup and sympathy, I’d also be force fed reality shows. You see, my mother is rather unfortunately addicted to them. She’d make me watch Idols, Extreme Home Makeover and Big Brother with her. I abhor reality TV. It’s faker than fiction, twice as annoying as Fran’s voice, as plastic as a McDonald’s hamburger (though must admit a McCheese is a guilty pleasure) and as watchable as a moth flying repeatedly into a lamp.
Nonetheless, there’s nothing quite like being sick to make you homesick. I’m listening to ‘Better Already’ by Northern State: “Truth be told, we’re feeling better already / We don’t have to leave the living room to have a good time!” I’m pretty sure they’re not referring to the self-medicating, vitamin C infused DVD marathon I’m planning on having in my living room. Let me assure you that no reality shows are in the mix.