Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Inadvertently Suspicious Sick Day

AN IGNOBLE BEGINNING TO 2007, with me home with a cold. Too bad, as the weather outside my window looks quite gorgeous, if breezy. And of course there's also the shoegazing tone your voice inevitably takes when you call in the day after New Year's, no matter how congested you sound, no matter how accurate the reading you give from the thermometer. Short of faxing a blood test with an elevated white-cell count, it just doesn't look good.

Of course, with my layoff looming in 3 months, how guilty can I really feel?

The New Year's weekend went calmly. I prefer an evening with friends for celebrating the passage of the year to anything more elaborate. I don't like large, drunk crowds, so I've never gone to Times Square for the occasion. Las Vegas is supposed to put on quite a show, which I would no doubt end up celebrating from my hotel room and watching the fireworks add light to the already sparkling skyline. Preferably with someone special, if I ever do it.

In this case, I met up with Amy and Ratatosk at their place on the 30th for a night of food and boardgaming. I was feeling a bit mopey at the end of this year, as sometimes happens, perhaps a little rocked back on my heels at the responsibilities ahead in '07, and a night with friends was just the bracer I felt I needed. In this, it did not disappoint.

We feasted on barbecued ribs from the Market Basket, along with coleslaw I procured at the town deli, beans, rolls, and apple pie. The ribs were dry-rubbed with a fine blend of spices; I prefer the dry style to the heavily gloppy sauced style for ribs. Brisket sandwiches I can go with either approach. The meat in rack o' ribs was robust in flavor without being too hot in spice, a delicate blend. Once more, I had the passing regret that I don't own a backyard in which I could set up a smoker. Although I don't eat meat during the week, I would love to summon forth a mighty mass of smoked meats for my mates some day.

After dinner, and while we were waiting for the final member of our party, I sat with Amy and discussed a unique editing project she is undertaking. I'm still not sure in which direction my career will go next — now that the holidays are done, I can intensively research that — but it was very helpful and interesting to peer into the details of another realm of my profession. I have to begin presenting myself to employers as possessing a range of abilities, and this sort of cross-pollination is useful for seeing what I can offer.

Once our final member manifested, we played a fast-moving card-based game called Citadel. The goal is to assemble a city of eight different cards, each representing various urban features. The trick in this game is that the role one plays changes from turn to turn, via the distribution of character cards that lend certain powers or allow one to go at specific phases of the turn. This can grant one the ability to knock another player out for a turn, gain more currency (which allows purchase of properties, or destruction of others' properties to keep them from reaching the magic eight) based on the type of cards one has down, or steal another player's currency. This was our first time playing this specific game, so we went a little more slowly than usual, but Rat's description of the game as a quickie looks to be accurate. (We tend to play a quick card or boardgame before the main course of the night, usually a military sprawl like Samurai Swords or Risk 2210).

All in all, it was a most pleasant night spent with friends, gaming, and fine food. Just the ticket.

I elected to spend New Year's Eve in. The Travel Channel was running a World Poker Tour marathon, ESPN was replaying the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event, the Packers were taking on the Bears, and Comedy Central was blasting a clutch of music-themed South Park episodes. Bill had originally planned to have folks over, but when most of the potential invites turned out to have plans (including Matt and his girlfriend with the enviable destination of First Night Boston, much more suited to my temperament than the Times Square crowds), he decided to skip it. With a brief flick over to one of the broadcast networks for the ball drop, I spent my evening on the above list of stimuli, then teetered off to bed at a fairly late hour.

This cost me. On Saturday, I had returned to the gym after a week's hiatus. I did the first of the two-part weight training program I usually do, and I felt a little sore over the course of Sunday as a result. The problem is that when I return to this discipline after a lapse, if it happens amid a sleep deficit, I usually get sick. So on New Year's Monday, when I was coughing fitfully and felt a deep pain in my legs, I knew it wasn't the workout. I hoped that I wasn't communicable yet, because I had a dinner date over at my parents' house, and they, being 70ish, do not easily shake off colds.

By the time I headed back home, I was feeling chills. I crawled into bed after placing a quick Happy New Year call to Felix, drank some water, and . . . lay there for 4 hours. If I dropped off at all, I don't recall it. I was going from hot flashes to chills, alternately tossing off and shuddering under my sheets. I could feel my dinner just sitting there in my stomach, but it stayed down, so I could rule out food poisoning. I began sweating around midnight; although I wasn't hallucinating the way I do when my fever spikes, I sensed it was high enough to register on a thermometer. A quick consultation with that instrument showed a 102.5º fever. I teetered over to the cupboard for Aleve and my cellphone, so I could call into work the next morning.

The Aleve worked. My fever dropped by half a degree in the next 20 minutes, and the restlessness borne from the chills and hot flashes eased to the point where I could sleep dreamlessly (I have wildly exotic dreams when my fever is high). I set my alarm for 6:00 so I could call in without encountering my department head, who arrives around 7:00 some days. With that done, I dropped off again, this time until a healthy 10:00.

For now, my fever has leveled out at 100.2º, so I've concentrated on rehydrating and sticking close to home. I dodged any number of sick train passengers and coworkers since the fall, an especially nifty trick with the warm weather tempting the ill to venture forth before becoming incommunicable. Each one of my teammates has been home with a cold so far, so perhaps I simply eroded my immune system to the point where the bug in my system could sally forth. Still, the benefit of being sick first thing in the year is that it can only get better from here.

So here's hoping for a considerably healthier, prosperous, and bountiful 2007 for all who stumble upon this entry. I'll see you when I stop coughing!


Ratatosk said...

Glad you enjoyed the ribs, my good man. The end of the year in no time for the blues when good friends are within reach!

Sorry to hear of your later sickness! Hopefully this finds you long since rested and recovered.

Schizohedron said...

Feeling much better, thanks, aside from some residual congestion in the morning. I was able to get back to the gym last weekend, which felt incredibly healthful. My back was beginning to hurt after lying around so much!