Timeline of a Near Fatal Illness, AKA Bronchitis, *CoughCough*

Note: Every other blogger might be blogging about Love and Valentine’s Day and chocolates and warm and fuzzy and smootchy stuff like that there. I’m not, cause I’m sick. Your pity is appreciated.

Day One – Friday

Unlike most weekends, I actually have plans for this one. Saturday morning is the VNSA book sale. All year this charitable organization receives donations of used books, cds, movies – scads of stuff – enough to fill to abundance the exhibit building at the Arizona Fairgrounds. It’s every bit as much fun as you can imagine.


Also happening, Husband returns home from a five-day visit with his family.

Friday afternoon, approximately 12:27 pm, Mountain Standard Time, I cough.

It is the first of many coughs.

Day Two – Saturday

My sleep was fitful, full of strange dreams involving angry people, lost pets, and Gene Wilder on the beach with a metal detector. In the morning I take my temperature: 100.4.

I stare at it. The thermometer is an old one. Have we ever changed the batteries? Damn thing is broken.

I think all this while coughing.

This is a terrible time to be sick. Which begs the question, is there a good time to be sick?

“Oh, I see I’ve nothing planned for the second week of June. Say Universe, how ‘bout we reschedule for then, yeah?”

I do not go to the book sale. I go back to bed, wake up at 4:30 pm, Husband is home.

“You don’t look good,” he says.

“Nice to see you, too,” I say.

Day Three – Sunday

Morning temp: 101.2.

Husband says we have a transportation issue, so it works out well I’m sick and won’t need the car.

So glad this is working out for everyone.

Why is there illness in the world? Why is there suffering? I should write about this. A deep, profound piece. People will be enthralled. I’ll bring comfort to millions

Reminds me of a Bible class we had a few years back, the woman leading it looked like she walked off the pages of a Coldwater Creek catalog. There was a visitor to our church, a Southern Baptist from Georgia. She was an old college friend of one of our members.

We were studying the book of Job, and I said how I had a class on it (it was a month-long course at a Lutheran school). The professor said if you take the first part of Job and the last part and put them together, you’ll notice they’re the same style and sound like a parable. Most scholars believe that’s what it was, a story people told about being faithful in bad times and God rewarding them because of it. But something about it must have bothered the writer of Job, so he split it into two parts and added his poetry in the middle, with Job’s friends voicing the conventional “wisdom” and Job questioning it, pointing out flaws in their arguments. And isn’t it great, I added, that we have something like this in the Bible? It’s like saying, hey, it’s okay to have doubts. It’s okay to get angry and question things. God can take it.

The woman from Georgia… well, you would have thought I had horns sprouting from my head. “What the Bible says is exactly what it means and if it says there was a man named Job, then that’s good enough for me! Everything happened just as it says! I don’t know what you teach around here, but at MY church, we speak the truth!”

After the class was over, I heard her ask her friend, “Who is that woman?”

“Oh her? She’s our minister’s wife.”

Am I rambling? I feel like I’m rambling.

Day Four – Monday

Morning temp: 101.5

The earliest the doctor can see me is 1:15. I soldier on, brave in the face of this treacherous, vile malady. Patiently awaiting my time, hoping hospitalization does not prove necessary.

He’s new to the practice: a Dr. Berkowitz, a lean man with salt-and-pepper hair.

Isn’t that always the case? When you look your worst, you get the best looking doctor?

He gives my scourge a name: Bronchitis.

How terribly common. I was hoping for something with a little more heft. Scarlet fever, perhaps. Malaria. Bubonic plague.

On the office wall is a drawing of the respiratory system. A picture of healthy bronchial tubes and ones like mine.

Bronchial tubes

How lovely.

He writes a prescription for antibiotics, Husband drives me to Costco. I must look worse than I thought. As the woman at the pharmacy counter writes down my information, she looks at me and says, “I’ll put urgent on this.”

Dear me.

Day Five – Tuesday

Morning temp: 99.6

Daughter’s birthday. You know your kids are getting older when one of the items they request is bedsheets. We also gave her good quality markers for her drawings, and a small voice recorder for when she’s working over something she’s writing while pacing outside (a common occurrence at our house). She loves the recorder and plans on calling it Diane. (Daughter is a Twin Peaks fan.)

We have no cake for her, no plans on going out, no special meal. What sort of mother gets sick on her daughter’s birthday? A terrible one.

Due to incessant coughing, my stomach now feels like I’ve done several hundred sit-ups. Wouldn’t be so bad if I actually got a flat tummy out of it. Not likely, as the only thing that sounds good right now is pancakes. As I eat my so-so pancakes, I listen to the latest podcast from This American Life.

Bad move. It’s on Real-life Rom-Coms. I’m not what you’d call an overly sentimental gal, but… well, give me a fever and tell me a story of a guy screaming into his cell-phone, “ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU” and running like a madman down Ludlow Street in New York?… soon I’m a blubbering idiot, sobbing away, teardrops falling into the maple syrup.

Day Six – Wednesday

Morning temp: 99.0

Valentine’s Day.

Aw, crap. Not only am I sick on Valentine’s Day (albeit improving), I wrote a post about being sick on Valentine’s Day. Probably looking like crap while I did it.

What kind of blogger posts about her illness on Valentine’s Day?

A sick one.


Tell ya what, do you want something lovey dovey sweet to listen to? Try this American Life podcast.

Only don’t do it while eating pancakes.


37 thoughts on “Timeline of a Near Fatal Illness, AKA Bronchitis, *CoughCough*

  1. “I’ll put urgent on this.” That sums it up right there. Everything else in your life falls by the wayside as you plot and yearn and beg for the ability to take more than a shallow breath without blowing the roof off the house in a frenzy of raw-throated coughing.

    Still and all, this piece is just as entertaining as usual, so it’s nice to know that even in your darkest hour, your light shines brightly. Of course, that might just be the glow from the faulty thermometer…

    1. I’m sure she was just trying to be helpful, but when she said “I’ll put urgent on it”… well, my ego really did take a bruising. Sadly, there were no rocks to climb under. 😉

      At my most feverish, I considered trying my hand at a poetic epic, thinking if an opium induced dream helped Coleridge write Kubla Khan, maybe my fever would produce a new culturally significant work of art!
      Fortunately I went back to sleep instead.

  2. If I could, I would send you heart-shaped lozenges for your throat, some pink tissue paper for your nose, and roses, just in case death’s door is closer than the doctor thinks. (I want you to be prepared for all eventualities.)

    Seriously though, I feel for you. My entire Christmas season was a similar haze–though I had the flu and no amount of antibiotics thrown at it would have made a lick of difference. Viruses are not respecters of the calendar or familial obligation.

    I suspect your family will just be grateful when you can recover and stop dripping in your pancakes. Be well soon!

    1. As rotten as I felt, I was deeply grateful it wasn’t the flu. At least this is manageable!

      I can’t get the thought of heart-shaped cough drops out of my mind. Why is this not a thing? We need to get on that!

  3. I was at death’s door once preparing to knock and someone gave me these words of advice which have served me well “Drink your bourbon and believe in Jesus” Get well soon!

  4. Hope you are much better. In my teens I would get bronchitis all the time – my Mum would have to roll me on each side and thump over my ribs, she also made me take horrid medicine which I thought tasted like peanut oil that was rancid – why was there no tablets back then?
    Anyway, get better, do what makes you feel good, and thanks for the good post.

  5. Only the truly great writer can make something that is not only readable but entertaining about bronchitis. To make you feel better about being such a bad mother … mine gave me measles just in time for Christmas when I was six. She reminds unforgiven.

    1. Oh, dear! Measles at Christmas? I’d have a hard time forgiving that as well!

      To make it up to my daughter, as I’m sure to be completely well by Saturday, our plans are to visit our favorite café this weekend which is also by our favorite consignment store. Which now makes our lack of planning on her day seem not so bad at all! 😉

      1. An unbirthday and birthday combined …. it will be super-delicious I just know it! I wish you and your daughter the most wonderful celebration tomorrow …. isn’t it wonderful the way kismet works?

  6. I’m sorry to hear about your illness at this time. But I am impressed by your entertaining journey while being ill. It’s never fun to be sick but when you can still make others laugh, thats a gift. So take care.

    Now I could talk about Job with you and why is their illness until forever but I’ll leave that for another time… jc

    1. Thanks JC, especially for being the one person who would be willing to discuss Job with me!
      Do you want to know my favorite part of the book is? It’s the fact that it never answers the question, it just leaves it there. There’s illness and there’s suffering and guess what? We can’t explain it! It just is!
      Maybe it’s the philosopher in me, but I really appreciate that. We’re allowed to shake our fist at the heavens and scream WHY?!

      1. I agree it’s just like Lt.Dan in Forest Gump. It’s storming outside and he’s at the top of the boats mask, cussing and raging against God, upset and questioning why his life hasn’t turned out like he wanted. The next morning, the sun is out and he’s got a smile on his face and he’s at peace with himself and the world. So yes question and get angry and find peace.

        Thank you… jc

  7. I hope you didn’t let the Coldwater Creek lady get you down. She sounds like the Church lady from SNL. 😉

    I love Twin Peaks as well and love that your daughter is naming her recorder Diane! Agent Cooper is my tv character crush. I love him!

      1. I think she’s right too! I mean you gotta be with the stuff he comes up with. I met him a few months ago! I didn’t think I’d be starstruck but I was. He shook my hand and I was so giddy afterwards. I played it cool in front of him though.

          1. He was nice and pleasant, but I was nervous because there’s just something about him. He has a magnetic presence that I wasn’t prepared for. I was just in awe. I met him at a signing in a record store in LA. A friend had given me her ticket. She’s a huge fan and wanted me to meet him since I never had. So when I went up there to have him sign her Twin Peaks record I told him, “My friend wanted me to tell you that she loves you” “…what?” “My friend. She wants me to tell you that she loves you.” “Oh…well I love her too.” “I bet you do.” Then I winked at him. I don’t know why, it just happened. I’m really grateful my friend gave me her ticket to that signing.

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