Sick Days


I’ve been sick the past few days. Any tasks requiring excessive physical or mental exertion have been shelved, any engagements with friends have been postponed. This gives me more time to wipe my nose and whine.

My major activities have devolved into naps, Netflix, and nothingness. Walking my dog has shifted from a minor responsibility to a monumental event, as it requires becoming vertical and putting on pants. It’s almost asking too much. It’s at the threshold.

It astonishes me how much being sick makes me adjust my expectations. For my day job, I had planned on writing a comprehensive guide to closed captions for not only my department, but perhaps all of UCSB; instead, I simply replied to emails and updated a spreadsheet. For my latest story concept, I had hoped to craft a new and unique tale; instead, I merely fixed typos in an existing draft. For exercise, I had planned on running a couple of 7-mile courses; instead, I napped hard on my couch. My usual sense of ambition found itself snuffed out in direct correlation with my inability to breath through both nostrils at the same time.

And for me, that’s the real downside of being sick. Not the buckets of mucus soaking into my mustache. Not the wet coughs and sneezes that creep up on me right after I’ve put on my face mask. Not the sore throat due to a post-nasal drip that wakes me from a fever dream about swallowing razor blades. No. For me, it’s the feeling that the world is going on without me, and that I am unable to contribute.

That is, until I stop giving a shit. And accept it.

This usually happens around Day Three. At some point, I just say screw it. I’m not establishing entirely new protocol at work today. I’m not writing a new short story today. I’m not running seven miles today. But in addition to not doing those things, I tell myself: “And that’s okay.”

Telling myself that is key. It’s the difference between wiping my nose and whining, and simply wiping my nose. Because the whining doesn’t help.

I’m still not at 100% as I type this. But I’m getting there. I wouldn’t have exerted all this blogging energy if I wasn’t at least up to the mid-eighties. But to be honest, typing all these words has worn me out. I’m going to shut down and veg out after this. Not every day needs to be about goals and creativity. Some days, I’m barely capable of walking my dog.

And that’s okay.

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