Kage Baker suffered from bronchitis on an annual basis. Every winter, every Christmas season, every Dickens Fair was highlighted by the revolt of her bronchi. She caught bronchitis like other people develop hiccoughs – often, inexplicably, and extremely stubborn of purpose.
Flu shots – which she lived just long enough to be eligible for every year – did not help. Oh, she didn’t catch influenza; but she still developed that deep, barking, selchie’s cough every winter. The sound fascinated Harry, and he learned immediately to mimic Kage’s cough. Now he does it to everybody, giving the clear impression that my avian dinosaur is mocking the mammals that surround him. Which is probably accurate.
I did not, in previous ages of the world, get such upper respiratory illnesses. I was usually immune to whatever annual flu mutation was sweeping the nation; I rarely catch colds, and can go literally years without a stuffy head or dripping nose. This made me handy as a home nurse and exasperating to annual sufferers like Kage – while she was grateful that there was a dependably healthy person in the house, she resented my bright-eyed, clear-lunged winter stamina.
Well, nothing lasts. My inhuman resiliency to winter viri imploded the year after Kage died, with the general collapse of my health. Now I get my flu and pneumonia shots with trembling regularity, waiting anxiously through December to see if the right vaccines made it into my helpless veins.
This year, my luck is bad. I have caught the flu – some flu, there are at least 3 strains floating around California, I am told – then had side effects from my flu shot. Last week I started wheezing, which is something I’ve never done before. There’s a certain amusement to it, what with mysterious noises coming from one’s chest out of synch with one’s breathing … after every exhale, there’s a long creaking, squeaking, leather-hinges-sort-of-noise that emanates from my lungs. It varies without warning, and it sounds rather like demon kittens crying. It’s weird.
It turns out I have a sort of bacterial pneumonia. Or bronchitis. Or maybe both. I’ve been to Urgent Care, the ER an my regular doctor – they keep giving me chest X-rays and breathing treatments and sending me home. They are all obsessed with my damned heart, when I would appreciate some real thought being applied to my damned lungs … At home, I continue to wheeze and cough. It feels like I am breathing only with the very topmost tiny percentage of my lungs, and the rest of the volume is filled with some sort of packing foam. Which squeaks and sings like evil kitties.
I’ve spent most of the last 2 weeks mostly in bed, mostly at home, taking weird meds and cough syrups that taste like watermelon and turpentine, and missing Dickens Fair almost entirely. Only today have I felt well enough to sit up and write.; my fever finally packed it in, and my head is something like clear … And I am still hacking and wheezing and doing devil-kitty ventriloquism. Our two cats sit and stare at me in horrified fascination.
So that’s my state at the moment, Dear Readers. Today’s unusual lucidity gives me hope that I can start rebuilding my daily routine. This coming year, I think I’d best devote some time to repairing my health. I clearly can no longer skim along below the radar of whatever disease is making the rounds, but must stock and deploy some serious defenses and weapons.
Time for force fields, and lots of sparkly flak, and caltrops to scatter gaily behind me like confetti to confound the determined evils that follow me. I do not intend to get used to spending the winter sick. It’s a serious waste of my time.
And I got things to do.