Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I know this city is killing me

I come from a very healthy family. We're fortunate in that no one in my immediate family has ever suffered from an illness more major than the flu. People in my extended family tend to live to old age and then just...die. Sure, we have our accidents; my dad's car crash, my mom's various horse mishaps and my sister and I just being stupid and falling down, but all in all, we've pretty much got our shit together, healthwise.

Growing up in a family like this hasn't made me feel invincible, exactly. I'm still terrified that one of us will get into a terrible car accident and die. There was a year in college that I was convinced, for no particular reason, that I had cancer. Then there was the time after college when the doctor actually made me legitimately afraid that I had cancer. I know that I am fallible--at least as far as the major things are concerned. It's the minor things, the afflictions of the "common people" that I strongly believe shouldn't be able to touch me.

There was an incident in college where I went out to dinner with a friend and a bunch of his friends whom I had never met. It was a hoppin' friday night in Harrisonburg, so the restaurant was busy. When faced with a crowded restaurant and a choice of smoking or non-smoking sections, I always choose first available. Nobody's going to be smoking at my table, so it doesn't matter to me in the least, and generally, my friends agree.

Except this particular evening, I was not with friends, I was with strangers. Who soon turned into enemies. When I went to ask for first available, one of the girls told the hostess that we needed non-smoking. When I asked why, she explained that one of the guys had asthma, to which I responded, "Why should I have to wait 45 minutes just because that dude's too lazy to breathe right?"

I don't make the best first impressions.

I was, of course, kidding when I called the guy's lungs lazy, but I would be lying if I didn't reveal three things:

1. I was kind of annoyed that we would have to wait.
2. There is a part of me, a part not governed by science or reason, that kind of believes that exposing his lungs to smoke would make them stronger.
3. That I'm kind of better at life than him.

With good health comes a certain amount of arrogance. Being arrogant about something so fragile, something so often out of your control, is a dangerous thing because it can come back to bite you in the ass. I used to have a roommate who was flat-out allergic to everything. Our fridge was filled with anti-allergy pills, liquids, sprays and Lactaid. And I knew that every time I opened the fridge, laughed to myself and called her a loser, that I was tempting fate. But that didn't stop me. I could go roll around in a field of wild flowers while drinking a big glass of milk and eating a grilled cheese, and she couldn't. Therefore, I was awesome and she was not. She wore glasses when she drove, too. I mean, come on, she couldn't even see right! The question of who rocked the hardest was quickly asked and answered. I took a vision test that year and found out that I was 20/15. Nobody could touch me.

When I moved to New York, I started getting sick more often than usual. At first I chalked it up to stress and not taking care of myself and moved on. Then I read this article and found out that New York was trying to kill me--well, not me, exactly, just losers with allergies. I didn't have allergies, so this article clearly was not about me.

Then, recently, I was at work. I had to update one of our databases using a medical book with very small type. I worked for a while and then realized I was squinting. Me! Squinting! Like a common middle-aged housewife trying to read her grocery list in the supermarket. After working on this for the entire day, I had a hell of a headache. It didn't go away until the next afternoon. I started to worry. Did I need reading glasses? My dad didn't need them until he was 40. I'm only 25. Is this the first crack in my shield of genetic superiority?

Last weekend, I came down with a cold. I could feel it coming on. My eyes were watery, my nose started running, I knew it would be only a matter of time before I got a sore throat and a headache. Except none of that happened. For the past four days I've only had sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. JUST LIKE ONE OF THOSE STUPID PEOPLE IN AN ALLERGY COMMERCIAL.

Am I this old? Have I reached the age where my body slowly just stops working? Because, no. I can't handle that right now. I've always joked about being old and boring, like how I barely partied in high school because I was too busy working all the time, paying bills and listening to Rod Stewart. Or my senior year in college where I was in bed by 8 or 9 so I could wake up at 3:45 in the morning and go work with Drinky McWhorepants and The Surly Asian. Yeah, Kona's so sleepy, ha ha. Deep down, I was still better than all of you.

But now I'm not. And I hate that. That's all I had going for me, and it's gone; replaced by a big box of Benadryl and plans for a new vision test. What am I going to do now? Learn a skill? Develop a talent? It's a little too fricking late for that. I don't really see myself becoming a master juggler anytime soon or developing "goals" or "dreams" or any of those other things that used to be beneath me. Oh sure, maybe I have "issues" and I should "talk to someone" and work on my "rage." But that sounds an awful lot like therapy. And therapy is for suckers.

1 comment:

Over 50 Fitness Femme said...

Hmm...watery eyes or a fatal car crash? I say, "Enjoy your Benadryl!"

Seriously, though, just wait until you reach the hot flash era. It's inevitable and it sucks harder than (fill in the blank with your own dirty punchline). If there IS a God, hot flashes are proof that God is male, not female. There's nothing like being perfectly healthy and sweating through your clothes four or five times a day. Oh, and after you break out in profusely aggressive sweat, you're immediately freezing because...you're all wet! My very first hot flash happened in front of a milliionaire client and I thought I was having a heart attack. My beautiful, expensive pale green suit looked like I went outside to play in the sprinkler, and my makeup began to slide down my face...so attractive! That part of my life began in the early 1990s, and I STILL get hot flashes a couple of times a week.

NYC is not killing you. Just think of yourself as a complex machine that's not "factory fresh" anymore. Sometimes you've gotta get new parts, or at least acknowledge that your original parts have seen better days. But, lucky for you, your superior genetics make you an Infiniti, not a Yugo.