The Fourth of July, and I'm recovering from what was basically a scalding, eye-gouging, stoat-stunning four-day-long headache. A quick trip to the hospital confirmed that it was not bacteriological—the way I felt, I could just envision black mold spores or something living and malevolent skating on my brain cells with razor blades or wreaking carnage in my lungs. The reason I went to the hospital is that I was interested—in a listless, detached sort of way—in the doctor's opinion as to what was in the process of killing me.
It was "just a virus." I was a little perturbed about that, or would have been if I were capable of stringing three thoughts together at the time. Just a virus? I think not. I know Just a Virus. Just a Virus has been an intermittent visitor of mine, over the years. And this, friends, was not just a virus; this was a giant, a paragon, a king among virii. A great marauding terminator virus; a rampaging overlord virus. I had chills so extreme my own shivering made me cramp, and after days of indescribable body and muscle aches, today I am sore, as if I'd been engaging in over-ambitious athletic activity for three days instead of laying in bed moaning.
The doctors and nurses, of course, were rather insolently dismissive of the intensity of my misery, as is typical of them. I don't blame them, actually. If you think about it, no one can possibly understand the misery of a person who is fond of comfort when he or she is in the grip of a bad virus. In fact, although you most likely have been there a few times yourself, even memory won't do the trick. Think of it. There comes that moment in the course of any bad bout of flu when on the pulsing blackness of your worldview there appears with a ping a distant, faint light—about the size and faintness of Venus—that represents the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. That is, you realize with a happy shock that you actually feel slightly better, and the hope floods in that you might get steadily better still. But before that, no matter what the doctors say, you just aren't sure on the survival question, are you? Admit it. After you're well again, it's easy to be cavalier. You always have the benefit of hindsight. You know how it ended. When you're in the middle of it, on the other hand, you're never sure. Before that first glimmer of hope you have no such security. No one knows the misery of the flu sufferer—you, or I, or anyone—except the sufferer himself before that crucial corner is turned.
Well, anyway, although I'm better, but not better better. I still have a ways to go. But as you've deduced, I can type again; I actually turn the television on when I sit down in front of it; coughing doesn't make me feel like my skull is going to explode, and I don't wake up in agony within ten minutes of the Tylenol wearing off. The corner has been turned. I'll get back to some regular programming later today, when I'm no longer too weak to resist writing about Scooter Libby. Now it's time for yet more Tylenol and as long a nap as I can manage.
Oh, and Happy Fourth to you and yours, if you're American—and good health to you whether you're American or not.