On Illness and Buying Stuff

I’ve had a really fucking bad string of body days.

There’s no point in trying to detail it and, honestly, my brain can’t articulate the swings of symptoms or their severity right now anyway. I can barely focus on the computer screen.

But, lying in my childhood bed in Connecticut in the same room I’ve been sick so many times over 23 years (which never ceases to feel pathetic), I’ve just landed on something about spending money I hadn’t thought about before.

In New York, when shit gets bad, there are dozens of restaurants that will deliver within an hour whatever specific thing my stomach will accept. If a need is more in line with a grocery store or pharmacy, there’s a bodega one block away. I can pay a service to bring me whatever I need rather easily.

In the suburbs… it’s not that easy.

Yesterday, while house-and-dog-sitting for [my brother] after a really bad body day, I couldn’t fathom stomaching what I had in the fridge. I was dying for something hydrating and slightly sweet, like watermelon or strawberries. But obtaining them meant getting in a car. Not possible. So my sweet, sweet mother came over, waited while I deliberated what I could ingest, and then went out and got them for me (and other things).

Today, things seemed a bit better. I cleaned and packed up and switched houses to watch over someone else. I felt totally capable. But within hours my moderate headache migrated into a splitting migraine unlike any I can remember having before it. I was fighting back vomit. I curled on the couch, covering my stupid crying eyes and willing things to get better, having no headache medicine or broth or ginger ale or anything to fix it. I contemplated how I’d get any of those things – plus rice, which I could imagine eating but in no way being able to cook – delivered to me.

Shit got bad. I don’t normally let shit get to the point where I can’t handle it myself, but I misjudged my condition (and sometimes shit gets bad no matter what you do). It took accepting help from mom – again – to get migraine pills and ginger ale and broth and rice to me. I could have muscled through the night on my own if I needed to, taking care of grandmas and dogs and myself, but there’s no way I would have felt as better as I do now, still in the dark and in pain but not so deeply lost in it. I’d probably be much worse.

So here, Jacqueline, is the lesson you just learned. Two lessons, actually.

  1. Yes, you can handle things by yourself. But when you get as sick as you are right now, you shouldn’t try to keep up responsibilities or do it alone if there is someone who can help you. As Muffin said in her text, you are self-sufficient, but you don’t always have to be. And accepting help is allowing other people to love you.
  2. You can be all against spending unnecessary money right now as you like. And you can daydream all you want about living out of the city where it’s quieter and you have more space and there aren’t so many cars and people to overwhelm your body. But if there’s a lesson to be remembered in the last two weeks of housesitting in the burbs and feeling so sick and all of the city-mouse-country-house stuff you’ve been contemplating, it’s that if you’re going to deal with being sick or in pain on your own, New York City is not the worst place to be for it. At least there you can buy what you need to get through a bad moment into a better one.

Okay, that’s it. Congratulations, by the way, for writing this. It’s the first thing other than an email you’ve been able to write in three days. Here’s hoping tomorrow is better. xo


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