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Tuesday, 19 February
Getting Better All The Time

No, no, my droogs! I did not abandon you again! I did not! Rather, I was cruelly withheld from you, held in a prison not of my making!

(Who makes their own prison? Foolish people. Don't make your own prison, folks. Unless you're the Saw guy, in which case: totally make your own prison, because if you don't, those people will fucking run like crazy, and you won't be able to play with their bones like Tinkertoys after you pull their spines out. But you probably knew that.)

No, what happened was: I got fucking levelled by the flu. I mean, I got crushed. Here's a direct quote from the wife: "I've never seen you this sick." Here's another: "I guess I'll go to work again while you lie there, not making any money." And another: "Do you plan on wearing pants at all this week?"

Last Sunday it all began when I woke up and realized that someone--possibly the wife--had replaced all the bones in my body with magnesium rods. I hunched around the house in a misery, looking like Early Man, and marveled at certain phenomena such as feeling a ripping pain across my forehead when I moved my eyeballs to the side too quickly. I settled in my big-ass leather chair and prepared for a long week full of low moaning.

I had no idea what was in store for me. I called in sick on Monday, still feeling achey and horrible; the fever was starting to cycle up in intensity. This, of course led to Phase II: Chills. Chills are sort of fantastically schizophrenic in that even when you are certain that you are going to burst into flames, you can still be sitting there merrily shaking away and teeth a-chatter. When you combine this sort of thing with, say, diarrhea--though you might not have had anything to eat in 24 hours--it gets even better; for nothing pleases the terrified, vibrating buttocks like the cold kiss of plastic, and then you get to clatter around pathetically atop the toilet, sweating and shaking as your afflicted bowels feebly spit into the bowl in some sort of cheerless parody of defecation.

Then, if you're classy, you write about it on the internet!

I called in sick on Tuesday as well after a vivid night of fever dreams; in one, I was attempting to solve an intractable math problem (for me, that's something like a "How many red socks does Jerry have if he mends 3/5 of a red sock every eighth week, and shops at Threadbaresocks.com during Lent?" kind of thing), and then suddenly I was a member of the Roman senate and the senators were all screaming solutions at me.

Tuesday also brought The Cough. Thus far, I had avoided any kind of congestion or respiratory hijinks. That was all over. It has inspired a short poem, in fact.

O cough! Rage o'th' lungs!
Wake the wife!
Shake the rafters!
I beseech thee--
Bring up no phlegm at all.

Thanks, lungs!
You fuckers.

The thing about being sick and being a smoker is, you don't get to choose to just be one or the other for a while. You get to be both. And so, try as one might to wait as long as possible, there you find yourself, wrapped up in a knit blanket, standing outside, shivering with the chills--exacerbated by the fact that you're outside--and grimly trying to manage a few pitiable puffs in between wracking, gut-ripping coughs. It's pretty much the most pathetic thing you can imagine.

I had made the decision before the awful vapors that I describe, but having the sickness cemented it for me: I have gone out and got a prescription for Chantix. Chantix is some new hot-shit drug that is a smoking cessation aid; I got it from my dentist, who is nothing if not enthused about having to chisel the fucking garbage off my teeth so much. He might also be interested in my not dying, but I don't know him that well to claim that. I started this stuff a week ago.

It has interesting side effects! A lot of them are gastrointestinal, so I'm still getting some prime nervy moments in the bathroom, such as last night, when I suddenly and quite unexpectedly vomited up an entire bowl of soup. So I still get to experience these peristaltic cataclysms without having to be sick! Chantix also has a host of neurological side effects that are possible: "vivid dreaming" is one, and if I can survive being screamed at by Roman senators about story problems, I guess I can handle that. Some of the more serious ones now being reported are things like "suicidal ideation," which frankly? Not that surprising. "I'm going to fucking kill myself if I don't have a cigarette in five seconds" is hardly a new thought for the dedicated smoker.

So I'm feeling a lot better. I'm looking forward to Chantix and not smoking to make me feel worse. Somewhere in the middle I expect to find normal. Right?


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

That was nothing short of brilliant

Comment number: 016916   Posted by: Paul on February 20, 2008 06:03 AM from IP: 131.104.87.11

Dude, I completely swear by Chantix! You go, girl... I mean... dude!

And nice Kubrickian term... Always loved using droogs and davotchka myself...

Comment number: 016917   Posted by: Matt on February 20, 2008 06:33 AM from IP: 151.151.73.165

"...for nothing pleases the terrified, vibrating buttocks like the cold kiss of plastic."

Note to self...

Comment number: 016918   Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' on February 20, 2008 06:39 AM from IP: 152.17.55.152

If the Chantix doesn't work out for you, what with the side effects and all, you might want to try out Zyban (the generic form is bupropion). It's apparently not quite as effective, but the side effects are more mild.

(Insert the standard "I am not a doctor and consult your physician" disclaimer here.)

Comment number: 016919   Posted by: Mr. Bad Example on February 20, 2008 11:12 AM from IP: 77.103.64.67

I smoked all the way through Pneumonia once...which makes me a genius

Comment number: 016920   Posted by: Jenn on February 20, 2008 05:19 PM from IP: 69.251.90.98

Loved the rant.

If misery loves company, you might enjoy a recent article in The Guardian wherein the writer manages to get in lines like "Britain is diseased: a septic isle bobbing on an ocean of warm sick." and "I had to lie naked in the bath for three days, blasting hot fluid from both ends."

I somehow can't see that making it into a national paper this side of the pond!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2240441,00.html

Comment number: 016923   Posted by: coop on February 21, 2008 07:04 PM from IP: 209.250.129.8

Aww...poor guy. I remodled my bedroom while you were gone. Missed ya :)

Comment number: 016924   Posted by: Alyxmyself on February 21, 2008 08:31 PM from IP: 68.201.0.251

Skot:

I want to offer warm encouragement on your smoking cessation. I undeerstand smoking from an intellectual point, but it skeeves me out physically. I love you, though, and don't want to be skeeved by you. So quit! With my blessings and my approbation.

Comment number: 016925   Posted by: Bill on February 21, 2008 09:01 PM from IP: 216.99.198.141

My theory is that us lifetime non-smokers crave cigarettes just like smokers do, but since we've never smoked we just chalk up that weird achy empty-inside feeling to other things, like existential angst or unresolved parental issues. At least recent ex-smokers know why they feel like crap.

So yeah, hope you settle into "normal" soon! Your lungs thank you.

Comment number: 016927   Posted by: flamingbanjo on February 22, 2008 10:05 AM from IP: 216.231.38.72

This one time I had strep and still managed to smoke. Each drag of the cigarette gave the unnerving sensation of my uvula distinctly and unpleasantly laying on the back of my tongue. But dammit! it would have been so much worse without the nicotine! Plus the coughing made me want to lay down and die.

Comment number: 016928   Posted by: topher on February 24, 2008 12:21 AM from IP: 76.170.3.62

Well, Skot, here's another grotesquery from the "Future fun for those who continue to smoke" motivational category. Ever been around a lifelong smoker now in their seventies? They couch a lot, and it's wet and sloppy, like lungs full of snot, so it's just -hack/rattle, hack/rattle, hack/rattle- over and over and over.

Last time I got sick before I quit, I sounded like that. I was THIRTY-FOUR!!!, and I sounded like my old, sick grandmother! My kid used to ask me when I was going to die...

Anyway, it's been 12 years, and still, every time I get sick, I thank my kid for getting me to quit - no coughing fits, none! I can go to sleep without 1/2 or 3/4 of a bottle of cough syrup! And this too can be yours! Hope that helps...

Comment number: 016929   Posted by: linnea on February 24, 2008 09:32 AM from IP: 209.129.192.60

I was a confirmed, dyed in the wool, loved it from tip to nub kind of smoker...then I quit. Hypnosis. And I am not the woo-woo type. I had always been curious about hypnosis, mostly whether I COULD be hypnotized...so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone (maybe) by being hypnotized to stop smoking. It took four sessions ($300) and I have not smoked in over two years. So if the drugs don't work, call Joan Milliken in Edmonds and get 'er done. I don't have her number handy but she's bound to be googleable.

Comment number: 016953   Posted by: on March 4, 2008 07:53 PM from IP: 24.19.7.17

So it was flu? Or was it... deathilitus?

Comment number: 016954   Posted by: dashofpanache on March 5, 2008 03:45 PM from IP: 69.128.244.162

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