Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I spent part of today lying on my bedroom floor right under the window basking in the tiny pool of sunshine that kept sneaking out from behind the clouds every time the rain let up, reading Marian Keyes's "Further Under the Duvet", a collection of mainly profoundly funny short stories. I neatly smuggled it out of ED's place last week after he spent countless nights nursing me through my illness. I have no shame. (Just borrowing, dude. Know that.)

They say an individual's sickness serves as expiation for his sins. I wonder if the past couple weeks have made me a different person. But really, I don't feel any changes, nor did I even think to pray for any. I'm told a sick person's prayers are granted. So, I prayed some extra. For Dad and the family (people I'm mainly nice to because they love me and make me soup even when I'm cross and childish), but other than that the days and nights were blurred into a continuous stream of fever, chills and restless sleep and gulping down copious amounts of soup and swallowing back endless pills and sleeping some more. I don't get sick often enough to recognize the symptoms well. But after sensing a dry throat coming on, I was smart enough to take two Aspirins and crawl into bed with a relieved sigh. I felt like such a druggie, a pill-popper or something.

Thankfully, the flu is over. Praise the Lord. All that's left now is what sounds like a smoker's hacking cough. Sometimes it nearly brings me to my knees. Usually I'm just bent over double, breathless with the pain of incessant coughing, assailed by a crazy dizzy fear that it won't ever stop. At least the changes it's wrought in my voice are amusing. Most days I sound like an 80-year-old man; when I'm not sounding like a prepubescent boy.

This is how not to be stupid like Ash: Don't pull all-nighters. Don't pull almost-all-nighters. Try, try, try and try to get work done ahead of schedule. And when your barely-started 6-page paper nearly brings you to tears on Sunday morning, remember the fact that you never cry over academic assignments, no matter how frustrating, and that your tears must be related to other things. Like the fact that you have an excruciatingly-painful backache, a throbbing headache and for God's sake, a sore footballing knee that even the magical Elmetacin spray won't take away. Why, oh why are you even sitting here pretending to get anything done?

The days and nights of sleeping, lazing about and senseless reading are over. Tomorrow I'm returning to the hospital after a week off, and the sheer amount of work waiting for me is frightening. I still have to study for an exam, finish writing that damn paper I failed to get an extension on, read some research articles for a workshop and present at the inter-departmental meeting on Thursday to a group of clinicians who'll likely be fidgety and suffering from A.D.D., just my luck. And then more exams and projects and workshops, seemingly back-to-back. Oh my Lord, grant me strength, strength, strength. And then some.

Sometime on Tuesday, after I had e-mailed my senior asking for an extension on my presentation, he sent back a reply that began: Relax, it's going to be okay. I laughed. It must have been a really frantic e-mail I sent him.

Breathe, Ash; it's going to be okay.

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