Thursday, Mar. 30, 2006
Dear Diary:

I started coughing almost the second I wheezed into my doctor's walk-in clinic yesterday morning. The nurse signing folks in silently handed me a paper surgical mask and then pointed to the push bottle of hand sterilizer beside the box of masks.

Oh yes, I began my day doing a Michael Jackson impersonation. You never know where life will take you.

I avoid doctors. It's not that I don't like or trust my doctor, because I do. It's just that I live my life on the solid medical principle that what you don't know can't hurt you.

But what's been happening over the last few days is beyond my limit. My whole torso just aches from all the coughing I've been doing. It's not just my diaphragm muscles, it's the muscles of my back because they've been trying to help with the burden. I am sore, tired from lack of sleep and oh so low on energy.

When I dragged myself in to the clinic I was a beaten woman. A beaten woman with unexpectedly huge amounts of personal space.

Having problems with people intruding on your personal space? Just put on a paper surgical mask. Even though the doctor's waiting room filled up quickly, folks preferred to stand rather than sit by me, the woman who most obviously had ebola. There was an empty seat on either side of me for the whole time I waited.

I didn't feel a bit conspicuous.

Not a bit.

Finally I was called in. We went over my symptoms and my doctor took my temperature. I had a slight fever. Up went my shirt and he started listening to my lungs while I breathed in and out through my nose. Many, many times. He did not look happy.

There was a discussion of the yellowish mucus I have been coughing up at regular intervals. That clouded his features further.

"Breathe in deeply and then exhale through your mouth," he ordered. I did and was startled when the noise coming out of my mouth sounded alarmingly like a hookah, like air bubbling through water.

"If both your lungs sounded like that I'd say you have a flu'," my doctor said. "But it's just your right lung so I'm going to treat you for pneumonia."

Pneumonia. Oh man. I walked out with a prescription for six hideously expensive antibiotic pills, my first inhaler ever, and an order for a chest x-ray six weeks from now to make sure that I have, indeed, vanquished the pneumonia from my lung.

When I left home for the doctor's I pished and toshed all offers of hand holding by the spousal unit. I am woman, hear me roar. I shoved my shopping list in my purse figuring that I'd skim through the doctor appointment, grab whatever he might prescribe at the village drug store and do my groceries. Easy peasy.

Well, the walk from my car into the drugstore was all I could do. Seriously. The woman who could keep her heart up in the 160 bpm range for 25 minutes on the elliptical machine last week is long, long gone.

When I got home yesterday it took me half an hour to walk up to our house, a walk I normally accomplish in less than ten minutes without breaking a sweat. When I finally got home I was so weary that I couldn't face walking upstairs to my bed for a nap. I laid down on the kitchen floor for half an hour with Savannah loudly purring beside me.

It was oddly comforting to have this skinny little bit of tabby goodness plastered to my side.

I can't ever remember feeling this weak before. It is very unsettling to just walk up three or four steps and have to stop because I can't catch my breath. I know the insanely expensive antibiotics I've been taking will have me over the worst part of this in about a week. In a month or so I will have recovered completely but man, this is unnerving.

The reason I'm going into how all this feels in such detail is because my neighbour Clara had pneumonia in January, just two months before she got her gold medal in Turin.

It takes every ounce of will I have to slowly go downstairs for a glass of water. I cannot imagine what it takes to overcome pneumonia, the huge fitness losses she must have experienced recovering from the illness, and the ferocious will it must have taken to pull herself back to Olympic gold territory.

If I was an athlete at her level and if I had been whapped with pneumonia practically ten minutes before something I'd been training for for four freaking years I think the despair would have killed me.

That she overcame this and went on to take a gold medal skating the 5K, which is an incredible endurance race, well, I can't begin to tell you how much I am downright awed by that. I tried to sweep the kitchen floor after breakfast and had to stop because it was making my heart pound too hard. The most intense thing I can picture myself doing today is petting kitties, and that I will be doing at distinct intervals, with naps in between.

So yeah, huge props to Clara.

She's back here now and the town is holding a celebration to fete her early in April. Being Clara, she asked them to turn it into a charity event and has asked our community to match the $10,000 she donated out of her pocket to Right To Play.

From what I've heard about the donations coming in, despite the fact this is a far from affluent community, we may well end up matching what she gave.

How cool would that be, eh?


Mileage on the Marnometer: 315.47 miles. 10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck
Oh, man, don't be looking for this to budge for about a week. Ouch.

Goal for 2005: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers

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