Sick of sick
Sunday in the Park
Park Record columnist
I was feeling a bit cocky, I admit it. Friends were falling in December and the first part of January with various versions of what we once just called a cold. And I was exceedingly healthy. Full of energy. Getting stuff done. Daily. I woke up feeling rested and I attacked the days. Good health was being taken for granted. It felt more a right than a privilege.
On the day of the March on Main, the first Saturday of the Sundance festival and the biggest blizzard day we have seen in nearly a decade, I was up early and ready to participate. I bundled up in a new fluffy coat, the first new coat I have purchased for myself in over a decade. It is like walking around in a full length down sleeping bag. My footwear was a trusty pair of fashionable but functional Sorrels. Several seasons old but always dependable in the past. I spent five hours at the event, from start to finish. I was in the pre-March ramp up, in the March, at the speeches, getting off Main Street and back to the Eccles theater where I work.
My feet ended up soaked. I mean to the bone soaked. I told myself it wasn’t so bad. I went to work until 7 p.m. In hindsight I realize I was chilled for about 12 hours total. Medically speaking, being cold does not give you a cold. I understand that. However, when I was weakened and fighting the cold and wet, I was more open to the germs coming through the box office window, as more than 6,000 people a day breathed on me with their home grown germs from all over the world. Lovely people, talented people, funny, sincere and thoughtful people. Many of them with just a little case of the sniffles themselves.
On Sunday, I felt something coming on but I had to be at work and there was an evening full of events to attend. So I did all that. On Monday, I couldn’t get out of my pajamas; I was down completely. Tea and self-sympathy and bad television and naps. Tuesday, I was back at it. But secretly I knew I wasn’t. But it was Sundance and our small staff are all needed to manage our theater and keep the back-of-house-stuff running smoothly. I showed up. I left earlier than any other year from my shifts.
I tried all my fail safe remedies: hot and spicy foods, steamy baths, lemon and honey and hot water and whisky. Over-the-counter meds came into play, still not working. I reached out to my doctor. She said everyone she knew who marched got sick. It seemed to take two weeks to run its course. She would prescribe a Zpak but mostly I had a few more days to just muddle through it.
I finished the episodes of House of Cards I hadn’t previously found time for. I read the Sunday New York Times almost cover to cover. I worked most of each day but not well. And I cursed myself for my pre-Sundance healthy arrogance. I kept my eye doctor appointment and ran into a friend who is, yes, Jewish, and she immediately asked if she should bring me chicken soup.
And while I was spending more waking in my home I was able to observe those tasks that most often happen out of sight and out of mind. My driveway and walkway were cleared every day sometimes twice depending upon the snow, by my kind neighbor who keeps me able to negotiate my way into the world. I also noticed the giant icicle creation on my back porch. A thing of beauty in the sunlight, it was as thick as the thigh of a linebacker and I remembered that is usually an indication of the drain system on the roof…not working. The man who helps me mostly in the summer with all things maintenance arranged for workers to shovel the roof to keep the ice jams of spring at bay.
The garage door, which was installed just about 25 years ago and serviced twice in that time, appears to be unhappy with all the ups and downs this winter. I lost the remote about a year ago so part of the irony is I have to get out and go inside and open the door and ditto when I want to extract the car. Of late, it has taken to holding us hostage for chunks of time, but only on mornings when I am already running late. Cursing does not seem to improve its function.
It is easy to — when minor things seem to gang up — think this is really much more than it is: minor annoyances and inconveniences. I remind myself of that time about 20 years ago when I was really actually sick, so sick the doctors in several states after two years of trying understand my lung issues decided there was nothing they could do. My illness would most likely prove fatal in three to five years. But I healed with great loving support and have been a picture of health for nearly two decades now. Having a rotten cold is just that, a pretty common case of the mid-winter miseries that needs rest and some prescribed medications and maybe just one more quiet Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.