Sickness and Struggle

I don't get sick.  I work with kids; my immune system is ironclad.  Last year my lymph nodes swelled up painfully, and I went to the doctor, who thought I might have mono; a test revealed that I didn't, but had had it earlier that year and just not known I was sick.  "You'll never get mono again," she said. "You have super antibodies!"  (Mentally, I immediately began designing a logo for the Super Antibodies.  They could be the corporate softball team for Merck.  Don't anyone dare steal that idea!)

Anyway, I don't get sick.  Really.  Since beginning my teaching career seven years ago, I've missed one day due to illness, and that was only because I had strep and my doctor maaaade me call out.  I sneeze a little in the spring sometimes, but thanks to a tip from Frederica (don't knock it till you've tried it!) even that is almost nonexistent these days.

But alas, how mighty are the fallen.  I've had this awful, hacking cough and chest congestion for two weeks.  I've been taking prescription cough medicine (it's four years old, and yes, I know that's supposed to kill you; it's actually working very well), but it only treats the symptoms.  Plus, since I rarely take any medicine, it makes me feel weeeeeeird.  I have strange, trippy dreams, and I wake agitated and itchy all over. Meanwhile, I endure the horrified stares of friends and colleagues alike every time I'm seized by a coughing fit.

Thanks to the grace of God, I've made it through two weekend church cycles without expiring on top of my music stand, but this weekend is a really special one: my mom has arranged for a gifted choral director to come and lead a vocal workshop at church.  So this week, I finally relented and went to the doctor, who confirmed my suspicions that I was actually on the mend, though slowly, and there wasn't anything she could do to speed the process. But guess who I met on the way in?  My priest, who has been much sicker (bronchitis and pneumonia) during these last two weeks than I have.

The irony does not escape me: we both became ill right on the eve of Triodion Sunday, when our church begins the cycle that includes Lent and Pascha (Easter, in the West.)  Triodion Sunday is also called the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, in reference to one of many Biblical fables where all is not as it seems: the Pharisee, a religious leader, is shown to be a hypocrite who cares only for his reputation and outward appearance, while the Publican, a tax collector (this vocation was just as despicable then), humbly acknowledges his sin and begs for mercy.

It's hard, admitting you are fallible.  Weak.  Yes, even sick.  And it makes sense that, since entering a season of humility, fasting and prayer is one of the most honorable and salvific things any human being can do, our physical bodies fight it to the best of their ability.

So!  Here I am.  Sick.  And looking forward to the struggle ahead.