I thought I had to go to court today, but I didn't, so here I am, writing again. Last Wednesday, I was on my way home from a meeting, feeling light as a feather, when I stopped for a light on a T intersection. Proceeding cautiously on my bicycle, I zipped forward....
...just in time to get mowed down by a Jeep Grand Cherokee, being driven by a young Hispanic fellow, who had thought to run the light, just a little, and make a right turn.
Having dealt with this situation before, I politely refused to be helped up, citing extreme shock and a sore leg ("which might be broken, I'm not sure...") sprawled in front of his vehicle, until the police and ambulance came. (Hey, I'm a lady, but not dumb.) To make a long story short, I spent the rest of the day in the ER, where I was told my leg was going to be a bit sore for a few days, but ultrasound showed I had a large (benign) cyst on my ovary, and....oh, you DO know you're sick as a dog?
--No problems urinating, no lightheadedness, no weakness? Your white blood cell count is through the roof! Surely you should have noticed?
Actually, I had. I'd fallen off my chair at the kitchen table twice, while having a glass of wine and reading...(my roommates blamed the Chardonnay, I blamed the heat). I'd been having dark pee (dehydration, most probably), pain (same idea, I should cut back on colas), and I had been feeling run-down and a bit daffy (it's been hot).
--Well, we can fix that. Eat this pill, and get more. Congratulations, you've just qualified for Cipro!
So, now I'm sick. With Cipro, more than the cystitis (now I really feel sick). I thought antibiotics made you feel better. But it's made me thoughtful about my grandfather's parents.
I don't have any pictures of them, but they were apparently a charmed couple of The Gilded Age. They were young, they were rich (his dad invented the hacksaw, he was the untainted-by-actual-industry heir), they were attractive and smart...and doomed, being simply lousy with tuberculosis.
Back when I was a self-dramatizing teenager, I used to fantasize about how they spent their last years (they died around the time of the First World War), both elegantly thin and pale and interesting, he an aristocratic Arrow Collar man, she, clad in the languid fantasies of Paul Poiret, living in a convalescent hotel near Saranac Lake (the American Magic Mountain, although that name is used for a ski area elsewhere). Every cold I got, I'd fancy myself consumptive, until my mom got wind of my fantasies and knocked the wind out of my sails -- tuberculosis isn't romantic, it's a serious disease, and besides, no one gets it any more (this was the early Seventies). Since then, I've only used my Camille act for bronchitis, two bouts of bacterial pneumonia, and the occasional allergic attack, when I've gotten extra-tender loving care from attractive young gay male nurses while getting Ventolin. Otherwise, I tend to just soldier on.
One night at Cafe Nine, I was discussing the African situation with a young doctor from the region studying at Yale. I began to cough, loudly.
Kashl, kashl, kashl.
--You sound awful!
Kashl, kashl, KASHL, kashl.
--You sound really bad. You should have it checked!
Kashl. kashl. kashl.
--You sound tubercular.
I must have looked at him VERY strangely. (I think I was trying for disbelief.) He looked at me jovially, as if he'd found out I was left-handed and a natural redhead.
--Well, don't worry, nothing to be ashamed of, and most cases are very readily treatable...I know it's considered a disease of the poor, but...have you had any...have you considered this before?
--Oddly enough, I have...in my teens...
--That's very characteristic! Primary infections often occur around then...they can come back to haunt you, long after...Well then. Now, can you remember if any of your family ever had the disease? Succeptibility to the bacillus is genetic, you know.
Luckily, I don't have it, but it made me think...
What determines the social class of a disease?