I made dinner tonight even though I was bored and disengaged by every part of the process: the thinking about it beforehand, the preparation of individual ingredients, the putting together of the parts, the not-too-successful attempts to taste, the serving. Never in my life have I cared less about cooking than I did tonight.
It's the first time in weeks that I have cooked, and though my husband has been doing a great job keeping himself and me—when I could eat—fed, logically he deserved a home-cooked meal made for him no matter how little I wanted to make it.
In the last few weeks, I've gone through every stage of an illness.
First, it started with a sore throat and congestion, just like nearly every schoolyear cold. Easy peasy. I could handle that. When that started up, E and I went out to eat with friends of ours. One asked me why I was out when I was clearly ill. "I don't cancel plans," I said. And, I really don't. And I did want to be there, out with them.
The beginning of the week rolled around, the sore throat worsened, and when Thursday came, the day I was supposed to get my wisdom tooth removed, I called the dentist's office. I told the receptionist, "I don't cancel appointments, but I need to know what to do. I have a wicked sore throat." The doctor's office canceled the appointment for me, telling me I was too sick for surgery.
Then, the worst began. Instead of getting better, I got stupider. I'd find myself in a room, head aching beyond belief, and not remember why I was there. I would get stuck, standing somewhere, unsure where I was going. The sweating came in wretched, reeking waves, followed nearly immediately by body-wracking shivers. I slept for hours and hours, and when I would wake, the bed would stink with my sweat and I would feel as if my brain had been working so hard on something. One day, every time my eyes opened for a moment, I knew, I just knew I had figured out every aspect of our healthcare problem in the United States while I slept. I couldn't remember any of it, but that's okay, because I hadn't really figured out anything, as I was sick with stupidity.
Sunday night, my fever spiked and I dragged myself away from the computer, where I was trying to put together some kind of coherent substitute plans, and to the toilet, where my stomach did its best to purge itself of illness. After puking, I laid down on the cold tile. I would never move again.
I don't leave people hanging though, especially my students, so I did move and I did finish the plans. And then my bed, my sweet, stinky bed embraced me again, and I slept for almost 20 hours.
The sleep soothed my fever, and what remained was the kind of headache that blinds and deafens. I was no longer hot, I wasn't puking, but I could hardly see from the pain. Grades were due Tuesday though, so I doped up the following day and went to school. I didn't turn my head all day, but instead turned my whole body to see things beyond my peripheral vision. Everything I ate or drank tasted like metal, so I didn't consume much, other than orange juice. I drank gallons of that.
What's left? A cough. The cough is annoying and disruptive, but it is possible to live with. Something worse remains though, something that would terrify me if I could care enough about it. Apathy. While I cared all the way through the worst of my illness about what strings were left untied while I was checked out of the world, now that I've checked back in, I couldn't care any less.
I don't want to do anything. Friends and family have called, and I haven't called them back. I don't care if I leave them hanging. I have performed a few basic requirements of the gardening season as I could, but only because they are hardwired, no pleasure or frustration, just nothing. I canceled an appointment Friday. Today, I skipped out on events that I cared about in a previous life.
You know what I do care about? My bed, and that's it. So, the current me, an appointment-canceller, an apathetic teacher, and not-real friend. When is this stage going to end?
I'd feel bad, but I'm too busy not caring.