Posts Tagged ‘sick’

High Price

19 May 2011

Dear J-

The one dog we have left, Oliver, is sick — something he ate is not agreeing with him. Thus it isn’t really being choosy about how or when it makes a reappearance and that particular part of the house is rapidly becoming off-limits to bare feet. He has always had some struggles with food, though, to the point where we had put the dogs on an exotic-protein diet (duck and potato) to rule out any food allergies, but with the way that kids are an extra dog treat is no further than the nearest forgetful kid. There is a strong sense of entitlement amongst the animals, who regard the finders-eaters rule as their governing credo. So we may try to save the animals from their bellies but sometimes their greed is too overwhelming.

Meanwhile corporate welfare (four billion in government subsidies to oil companies) continues unchecked — the reason given is that without the subsidies these companies would pick up stakes and move out of the country, even as they announce record-breaking profits with straight-faced inscrutability. This reminds me of little kids and idle threats that aren’t fooling anyone but when called to testify before Congress the CEOs are able to slickly and successfully plead their cases, their hard luck and needs. I’m sure the recent sharp spike in oil prices has numerous interrelated reasons but to me it’s symptomatic of a dwindling resource.

Oliver is old and realistically may not have much longer. What’s happening now isn’t a mortal illness, though, and I would be premature to write an epitapth based on having to clean up the floor the last couple of nights. We’ll find some kind of magic bullet and get his guts back to working order. It is a nuisance but not the sort of thing to panic over. We might have to experiment with his food and have him take it easy for a few days. People who think that we’ve reached Peak Oil are going to see the facts that support that assertion — if oil prices can be speculated up so high based on a drop in production without more stable countries able to pick up the slack that tells me the wells that are out there sre working as fast as they can and their capacity can’t increase. Is it a failure to invest in new fields and wells? Or does it mean we’re starting to run dry on this particular milkshake? This world’s economy is based on the continued availability of fossil resources to power utilities and provide cost-effective transportation. We don’t know what exotic ingredient — more nuclear, more wind, more solar, more electric cars, more of something we can’t even foresee — is going to work though and that makes it impossible to predict.



Back Up

22 February 2011

Dear J-

The TiVo is off doing its thing so that I can free myself from sitting in front of the video panel for now (okay, now I’m sitting in front of a different video panel that works fundamentally the same, what’s your point). It’s nice. I get to feel human again and in return spend time at home reflecting on what’s important. I think it’s one of those illnesses best treated by time off, not getting out of pajamas, and a pocket full of cough drops.

It feels like the weekend just started. I know, I made a long weekend even longer but if you saw me the last couple of nights, staggering around like the febrile infirm that I’d become. I was just starting to have some fun today, after all; it’s been nearly two weeks since I had to do real work and not training or the pleasant work of weekends spent chasing kids.

In what sense do we finally give up our selves? I’m reading about the distinctive retail names I remember as a kid — The Bon Marché, The Crescent — fiercely regional to an extreme and never realizing that they were part of a larger, nationwide conglomerate who finally realized that the economy of a fleet operation outweighed the distinct shopping pleasure of going to a store suited for your neighborhood and region. The Crescent in particular — I remember time spent searching for a parking space, then walking around the whole-block building to peek in the window displays that changed monthly and finally heading inside to see the wares. To know that the grand old building we used to run around in after work at the store was done is now carved up into retail spaces in the name of profit, not service, I dunno; I can’t see progress I guess.


Double Feature

12 February 2011

Dear J-

figgy has been sick the past few days so I’ve come home to see her sacked out in front of a movie — it seems as though for as many animated movies that have come out in the past ten years we have a good portion of them — and that’s okay. I’m well aware that lots of folks use their online presence to broadcast how wonderfully perfect their lives are (and probably just as many are as proud of how imperfect they are) but it’s nice to see a relative sense of normal descend on the house for once. When I was little and got sick I would demand outrageous treatment: pajamas all day, in bed, warmed liquids and carry carry carry all over the place.

figgy has learned from me. I don’t know how but she’s gotten a time machine, hopped in, and taken lessons from the master of whinging complaints. I suspect that just as there are new parent classes for childbirth and delivery so are there new grandparent classes: strategies for I-told-you-sos and ways to not-look-like-you’re-enjoying-the-taste-of-your-child’s-own-medicine. I wonder sometimes if we keep our distance from parents to prove that we can do it ourselves or to hide the damning shameful evidence of what we’re doing wrong. It’s strange that I feel a greater kinship with my folks knowing how difficult it was for them — new country, strange customs, and two kids keeping them on their toes. We are the lucky ones.


Viral Opinion

30 September 2010

Dear J-

The world slows down when figgy gets sick; the smallest things become insurmountable obstacles that demand steady coaxing to overcome. The usual bedtime routine of a little dessert followed by a bath, cartoons, and toothbrushing is punctuated by grievances and aggravation. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the child from the illness, to remember that under the lashing out is the same sweet kid we’ve known all along. It doesn’t help that we all end up being hit by the same bug at the same time as nothing is quite as onerous as your turn to usher her through the latest crisis. Half the time the foot-dragging means less time to do the things she does enjoy.

I’m reminded of these manufactured crises when I’m reading opinion columnists during election season (and lately, it’s been all elections all year). All the hand-wringing worry about what might be is nothing compared to the pain of I-told-you-so, and the favorite style of argument is to point out all the dismal predicitons that have come true, as if being smug might compensate for being wrong most of the time. My favorite straw man is the one about job creation — as though jobs might be made out of the money we throw at business and tax cuts for the top five percent. The business of business is to make money; either you increase revenue or cut costs, and costs have been the favorite target lately.

The utility of criticism is marginal at best in the absence of strict guidelines to follow. Without an objective frame of reference it becomes a matter of setting some arbitrary bar to be met. In the political world I suppose it must give the opinion writers some satisfaction to see public opinion molded by their erudite words, even as the art of writing a convincing argument has disappeared. But in the pale light of dawn it’s easy enough to dismiss them as witless cranks driven by their various fevers to spout off some nonsense; it behooves me to remember what it takes to qualify for a spot on the opinion page: a message and a platform. Whether or not you choose to accept that virus is up to you, of course.


Drop Ship

5 July 2010

Dear J-

I spent the day indoors wrestling alternately with a recalcitrant computer and (when she was awake) a sick figgy. The computer at least you can reboot and hope for things to work better, while the baby is a lot less receptive to similar treatment, though she does readily accept the Children’s Tylenol when offered. Clearly medicine has gotten much better tasting in the past thirty years or so, though I was always partial to those orange-flavored chewable aspirin. Life is pretty slow around here when she’s sick and we shift gears to suit.

If I think about it in terms of that at least she’s getting it out of the way before the big trip, that’s a good thing, but if we’re lagging her illnesses by a few days, that means we’re going to be well-impaired by the time we set out. Or perhaps we’ll have a few days grace period, as we incubate and pass the mutating virus between us; if life is like a petri dish, we are the culture that always develops a reaction — one of us has something remarkable.

She had a brief moment of lucidity this afternoon, rising from her pallet (we had literally laid out a few towels and a pillow in the front room and she spent most of the waking hours on it) and so I had a vision of her, vertical and awake beyond the confines of her misery. It’s tough to see her like this knowing how excited she usually is for various activities — wanting only to sleep is a sure sign of how low she feels. This too shall pass; hard to believe that we are back to work again tomorrow.


Two Worlds

16 June 2010

Dear J-

At some point I wonder if we’ve become so polarized that human dignity isn’t at stake. The longer we accept hard partisanship without question, the more we risk forgetting those other folks are people too. I look at some of the bumper stickers floating around — and yes, there were similar stickers around ten years ago — and I realize we’ve shifted to a land where we believe that if you’re not for, you must automatically be against, and therefore not worth listening to. We have a surprisingly casual relationship with the folks we invite into our houses on television and radio, and we’ve become blunt in the guise of honesty.

It seems like we’ve become more interested in levying blame and trying to score points instead of working to solve problems; we take delight in being able to say I-told-you-so rather than moving on past those petty pleasures and finding solutions. Thanks. Is that all you have, are you ready to keep going? No? Get it out of your system first, then. At times it feels like we don’t know how badly off we are until our army of talk-radio Cassandras explain it to us, thanks.

My body wars with my mind today; it was relatively stupid to ride my bike in, and I paid the price by dribbling over the hills in a special gear I like to call febrile effort. My mind is interpreting all the signals with increasing panic instead of sitting back and trying to relax. Food isn’t my friend tonight, and that drives me nuts — the small amounts I am able to take in shouldn’t cause immediate aches and pains. It gets better eventually, right?


Sunny Day

28 April 2010

Dear J-

We’re at the tail end of the day, which means that figgy has been fed, changed, and (generally) is calling for attention from the corner. The day has gone smoother than I had anticipated; we had enough time to run all the errands in between the appointments — our stocks of bland food and Pedialyte are now replenished — and she was sunny, considering how tired she was and how sick she was last night. If every picture tells a story, then remember the weather today: when I got up, a heavy mist kept spitting down, and after the first appointment of the day, the sun broke through. It was still cool, but the sun did what it could.

Sometimes it seems like she’s sick every week: just as she gets better, the incubation period from the prior week is up and some new bug is on its way home. When I was little, I remember the world spinning gently ’round, lying prone and watching the ceiling — it and the walls had a sandy texture which I used to suspect was in place to discourage busy hands from marking them, or, along with the wood paneling and plaid furniture, were signs that the seventies never died, at least in our house. The best part was having time off and wearing pajamas all day; no bug can stand up to twenty-four hours of dedicated rest.

At some point we joke that the illness is a bit of a blessing; she’s able to take naps where she normally wouldn’t, and bedtimes get pushed back to baby-era periods that allow for actual work in the evenings. I’d rather have my sunny kid back, though; she is courageous though shy, charming at turns and sweet all the time despite what might ail her. Life is good. The sun rises eventually, and that’s enough.


Catch Understanding

27 April 2010

Dear J-

I understand that it’s not a conspiracy, but the day we had planned tomorrow — four different medical appointments between the two of us and various errands to run, not precisely fun perhaps but a day full of accomplishment — contracted in the space of ten minutes as figgy, fussy tonight, vomited. It’s selfish of me to have wanted that time for myself, isn’t it? It’s life; I can’t pick the schedules, and I suppose it’s lucky that we had the time slated off anyway. Every so often I just need to remind myself that my time really isn’t; we have obligations and responsibilities that are inescapable.

It doesn’t stop the first hot initial reaction, that little stab of flame from infecting my mouth. Reaction always outpaces reason. So long as I eventually come around to realizing how silly I look with my foot in my mouth, I think there’s hope for the future. Be the change you want to be and all kinds of swelling music rises in the background; motivational phrases and cliches fall from the ceiling over my head. Point of fact: there’s a sick kid sleeping thirty feet away. It’s not about me. Easy.

Frank Miller of Sin City and 300 fame also wrote Batman: The Dark Knight Returns; it’s a graphic novel that chronicles the late career of Bruce Wayne, and it shows how old they’ve all gotten — Wayne, Clark Kent, Selena Kyle. And Jim Gordon, Commissoner Gordon has an oft-repeated catchphrase throughout: “I think of Barbara. The rest is easy.” I’m starting to understand — understand again, understand for the first time.


Day 20: Escape

16 April 2010

Dear J-

Because figgy has been sick we kept her out of daycare (finally — we are those people who keep sending their child; in our defense, we’re probably only re-gifting the germs). I found out before lunch and after class, so I skipped out on the rest of the activities (today was planned to be a light day at any rate) and fairly flew home; I’m not terribly proud to note that I made it back in fifty minutes or so. And so of course I felt angry that I didn’t get the last hour or two our of class today and stewed about it for a few hours more, no patience for figgy or what she was asking for, whatever it was: milk, movie, or moaning. Stupidity multiplies once you sit there feeling sorry for yourself.

At some point — soon after we were done with Monsters, Inc. (I swear, it’s allergies, not the reconstructed door) and just after starting Meet the Robinsons, she fell into a deep, exhausted nap that carried her to six o’clock. I had more time to think about what I’d done: at one point this afternoon I was yelling at her, which prompted her to yell at me, and all we ended up doing was test the decibel levels in the house. What am I thinking? Better, what am I teaching? Does the loudest person win?

I’m reminded at odd points how much figgy has grown; whole sentences are issuing forth, underwear stays dry despite my paranoia, tea parties are planned with surprising sophistication (sure, we’re not talking sandwiches with the crusts cut off, but the dolls all have their place settings, and they’re not all jumbled up, either). The more I dare to assume, the faster she gets; she keeps sprinting where I had always assumed walking. We’re getting there. I need to catch up.


Slow Step

9 June 2008

Dear J-

Sick today; I’ll spend the time on the way home resting and pretending that these various aches and muscle pains don’t portend anything too serious.  It feels like minor things — colds — hit me that much harder once I passed some invisible age marker:  believe what you will, but my throbbing head tells me the true story.  Ironically, I had a medical exam this morning to requalify for vanpool driving duties, and the symptoms were kind enough to hold off until I’d managed to demonstrate some semblance of fitness.  Or perhaps it was the somewhat suspect two-weeks-expired string cheese I packed as a snack, believing that everything prepackaged is chemically preserved into near-mummification and that I could safely ignore the ominous date.

The days I manage to convince myself that I don’t need the fenders inevitably turn out to be the ones with the most threatening atmosphere; it’s not cold outside, but the air is heavy with the promise of moisture to fling.  But it’s not the stuff falling on me that I mind, it’s the stuff my wheels kick up all over my pants and back (during the last rainstorm, the muddy tracks made it look like I’d been run over by several motorcycles, directly over my spine).

Our weekend excursions and dinners may soon find themselves limited to walkable distances; gas keeps rising, the days are longer, and the weather has, besides the unspoken threats, been remarkably cooperative, breezy and sunny, giving you the option of roasting or freezing, depending on the tree cover.  Honestly, maybe it’s just a bad case of mondaywork-itis; as the miles interpose between myself and those concrete domes I find my spirits lifting, low clouds or no.  I’m getting a handle on what I need and can do in the absence of those with serious experience.  I can do this, I say.  And for once I believe it.