Sickness and Health

A doctor once told me there’s an old Arab saying: “The secret to a long and happy life is to develop a chronic condition and take good care of it.” Since I have three chronic conditions (a wonky digestive system, allergies and ear problems, and low back problems resulting from a work injury in 1995) and I do try to take good care of them, I could live to 100. I also inherited longevity: my maternal grandmother lived to 95, and if my parents had never smoked they might have made it to 100; as it was, my father died at 84 and my mother at 92, after having smoked for 40 or 50 years each.

Now, for some reason I haven’t figured out, I’ve had two nasty respiratory illnesses in as many months. In November I had a sinus infection–my first–and for the past few days I’ve had a terrible cough and a stuffy nose. I suspect it’s either allergies, which in Austin plague just about everybody, or constant exposure to the little petri dish known as a pre-schooler–or a combination of the two. It can’t be bad living:  I exercise regularly, I’m a fanatic about healthy eating, and now that I’m retired I get enough sleep.

Being a driven obsessive-compulsive I have usually pushed right on through illness, even when I was working, especially with deadlines. And I hate to miss anything! Yesterday was going to be the busiest day of the holiday season: two church services (as membership co-chairs Gary and I get there before the 9 a.m. service, and often stay till well after noon); then a congregational meeting (to which I would take my knitting, the only way I can get through meetings without getting antsy–I used to wish I could knit during Medical Board meetings); followed, finally, by a solstice/Christmas cookie party at the home of dear friends who throw great parties. I love parties and I rarely miss an opportunity to eat, drink and socialize with friends.

I stayed home and missed it all. We kept Chloe overnight Saturday and I took her home at 10, came home and hunkered down in sweats all day. I went out only to get a cough medicine refill and later to pick up Gary, because his battery had died and he got his car jumped and dropped it off at NTB.

Indigo scarf, a gift for an elderly friend

Amethyst scarf for my sister-in-law, who I hope doesn't read this


It was the right decision. For one thing, it hurt to talk, and after 24 hours with Chloe, who starts every sentence with “Gramma…!”, a day of silence was good medicine. I fixed simple meals (egg and olive salad for lunch, tuna melt for dinner) and read the paper. Oh, and knitted in the evening, but knitting is relaxing, even as I’m trying to finish some gifts.

I went to bed at 9:30 and got up at 9 this morning, with no big coughing attacks like the previous nights. I’m still taking it easy today while working up my Christmas to-do list: grocery shopping, gift wrapping, baking….

Since I had to take Gary to pick up his car anyway, I decided to tackle the biggest and most onerous of the to-dos, grocery shopping, so I can do the baking next.  The store was buzzing already, six days before Christmas and school not out yet, so I hate to think what it’ll be like later in the week. There was a warm, steady rain falling when I left the store, and traffic was even nuttier than usual, but I love these dark, wet days before the solstice, and I felt very happy, even joyful, to be alive and out in it.

Leftovers for dinner, a Netflix movie and knitting tonight.


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