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Today is day five of being sick. I’m coming out the other end, though I know the effects (bronchitis, cold sores) will linger for weeks. Still, I’m grateful for the opportunity it’s imposed upon me to “put it all down” for a few days. Illness, in its acute phase, is one of the few things strong enough to silence my incessant To Do mind. During the sickest days, illness insists I just be a body, even a suffering one, napping and breathing and occasionally getting up for a piece of toast.

One morning, I had just stepped out of the shower when a wave of dizziness and nausea came over me, demanding that I go lie down RIGHT NOW!  Wait!! Let me towel off first!  But my body would have none of that, so I staggered across the hall and put my dripping chilly body under the covers till the feeling passed.

Now, as I begin to feel better and clearer of head, it’s easy to think I have the energy to tackle some small projects. I mean, what is unexpected at-home time for? But the supply of energy is very limited, and I quickly hit the wall.

I have to admit that there’s something I love about this process. Maybe it’s because my day to day life is so out of balance. I mean, what does it say when I look forward to surgical anesthesia because it seems like one of the rare times I really rest?

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I also want to thank my immune system for the fine job it’s been doing. I know it’s never a given that the battle will go my way. The virus, which probably arrived as a small raiding party that landed in my nose, proliferated quickly and swept through my body like Hitler’s forces sweeping across Europe and North Africa. (The rapidity and breadth of that sweep was one of the horribly dazzling take-aways from my visit to the World War II Museum in New Orleans.) Soon the battle was being waged on many fronts, hence the headaches, chest spasms, woozy stomach, low grade fever, and general feeling of having weights attached to my limbs.

Clearly now, the tide has turned, stability is being restored, and we’re mostly dealing with a cleanup operation. If I were a general, I would send the troops home on leave with a ration of whisky.

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Between naps, I’ve been reading I Contain Multitudes, which is about the microbes within us. I should mention that the author, Ed Yong, takes issue with applying military metaphors to the immune system. What’s happening is far more subtle and complex. He says the immune system is more like a team of rangers carefully managing a national park, only the control flows in both directions as the immune system manages the microbes and the microbes manage the immune system.

There’s so much in this book! Read it if you want to know who/what you are.