On Being Sick, But Not Really

So Megan was telling me this story about this guy who had a sleeping sickness.  Not the kind you get from the Tsetse Fly, no, or, in fact, any sort of real sickness.  Instead, what this guy had was a sleep disorder.  He was sleepwalking.  Well, it was sort of like sleepwalking.  What it was, exactly, was sleepacting.  Or sleepactingout.  Or dreamenacting.

You see, at this point already it becomes hard to define.  It being sickness.  Define being a reason you could present to someone else without embarrassment.

So this man was dreamenacting.  While he was sleeping, he would physically act out his dreams.  Though most everyone who hears this would concede that such a condition might be a problem, should be looked into, and maybe this guy should invest in some straps for his bed, he didn’t look for help until he’d jumped through the second story window of a hotel, convinced, in his dream, that jumping was the only way to escape a guided missile aimed at him.

But before something so drastic happens, it’s hard to look for a solution to a problem that, so far, has revealed itself only as an annoyance.

So I’m sick.  But not really.  My throat feels tight, and it’s been burned raw through constantly trying to clear my throat of phlegm that’s not there, that’s just the skin of my esophagus pushed closer in.  The top of my throat itches.  That’s, well, it.

I’ve no fever.  But I feel drained.  Tired.  Readily available for bedding.  I sweat faster at night than Megan, leaving my side of the bed a damp puddle so I’ve got to go sleep in the other room till the bed dries out.  But is that sickness, or just a natural difference in body temperature?

Erin was feeling unwell off and on for weeks. She’s always busy, so didn’t have time really to sleep.  Her life was a web of stress regarding jobs and theater (as it, currently, almost always is).  And she saw no reason to give up drinking, not that she ever drank herself into a stupor (though it’s hard to imagine the amount of liquor that would take).  But then she succumbed to fever.  She went to the hospital.  She had pneumonia.

How long had she harbored this intruder?  It’s hard to say.  Without insurance and, more importantly, without a reason to go – obvious, perhaps life-threatening – she wouldn’t have taken her chance with a doctor’s opinion (the chance = paying money regardless, whether problem exists or no).

And I won’t either.

p.s. Reading a poem the other day I was struck by the word “cave”.  In the poem, it was talking about the possibility of space “caving in” but used the infinitive “to cave”.  This made me think that you could use to the verb as one of creation instead of destruction – to cave meaning to create a cave-like space out of something else.  And that’s your wordplay for the day.

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2 Responses to On Being Sick, But Not Really

  1. Brendan says:

    That guy’s name is Mike Birbigela (I’m sure I’m spelling that wrong) and he has a book coming out called COME SLEEPWALK WITH ME. He’s a regular on THE MOTH, a podcast that makes me wish I were a better storyteller.

  2. Andrew says:

    That’s where Megan heard him, I believe. Either on The Moth, or she found The Moth through him appearing on This American Life.

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